Knowledge is Power

Women’s Cyclocross Nationals 2019, by Caroline “Cazza” Goward

Having had a confident race at the South East Regional Champs a few weeks before at the Cyclopark, Gravesend, getting third and using the analogy “knowledge is power”, I headed to the National CX champs at the same venue, knowing roughly what the course was going to be like, so not having to waste nervous energy worrying about the course I could focus solely on my race.

Coming from a MTB background, this course was very much suited to a mountain biker, with technical off-camber bits and lots of single track. All I wanted now was some rain and mud and then I would have been in heaven (well kind of), much preferring to plod through the mud than be a crit rider.

Unfortunately there had been no rain for the whole week before the race so this meant it was going to be fast, and fast it was!

I was very surprised to be gridded on the front row, not that this helped much as the start loop was on the road circuit and I soon lost what I gained being on the front row, probably being 15th going into the first off-road section. My position soon changed once we hit the first off-camber section, where coming out of that I found I had moved up to 5th!

Normally my trend is to pick my way through the field using my MTB endurance meaning I get stronger as the race goes on, so this was alien territory for me but I thought, “just go with it”.

Loving the course and the crowds I was able to keep this position until about half way into the race. Tasting blood in my mouth is never a good sign and I started to realise I may have over cooked it a little bit … “damn it!”, I thought. 

Racing with all vet women, some 40-44, some 45-49 (my age group), some ladies were beginning to overtake me and I really wasn’t sure who was in which age group race, but I have to say that the last two laps were very hard. However I kept going and on those last two laps no other riders overtook me – it was just that third lap in that did the damage.

Having set a goal of top 10 before the race and finishing in 9th place, I have to say I was chuffed, well chuffed in fact.

A few lessons learnt on the day, but more enthusiasm than ever for next season to come round quick!