Hello, Juliann Vander Haegen here and I’m back with another installment of this blog series. At least for me, cyclocross is an art form. From choosing the fastest and most efficient line, to heckling as loud as you can while wearing insane costumes, cyclocross forces our minds to think fast, to think differently, to think creatively in a way nothing else does to form a perfectly unique race that can only be described as art. Pushing mental and physical boundaries constantly, training alongside teammates with the same weird understanding of a rare lifestyle, and spending our Sundays riding bikes in crooked circles while it’s raining sounds insane, crazy or ridiculous to most.
Cyclocross is insane, it is crazy and it is ridiculous, but it’s also beautifully challenging, smoothly poetic, and most importantly it brings people with an extraordinary type of mindset together to form a supportive camaraderie that is spread across the world, but unified by a lifestyle like no other.
Two weekends ago MFG #3, The Katie Blincoe Prestige, was held at Silver Lake and it was very fun! The course was really sandy, decently grassy, and even had a little bit of pavement in it. The Silver Lake race began with a pavement start that led right into a fast right turn. The course had a bunch of punchy hills and bumpy little descents that led us through a couple of sandy sections and a technical off-camber section.
The second sandpit was pretty difficult - there was not a popular line or groove already there. In this stretch, I usually ended up riding halfway and having to get off and run the remaining portion of sand due to deeper spots that I was unable to ride through. Following the taxing sand-running came a steep hill which I again rode half and ran half of. Next was another bit of twisty, off-camber downhill that sent us sprinting on the pavement to the finish line and onto the next lap. I loved this course and felt relatively confident during my Cat 3 Women's Race, which I finished 6th in.
MFG #4 was held at luxurious Magnuson Park in Seattle. Because the course featured mud, mud, puddles and more mud, our Sunday was a very dirty one. Conveniently, a storm had occurred the day before, bringing lots of rain in before the race and turning the park into a mud bath. From a long pavement start dappled with puddles we were sent onto a wet grass section made up of lots of tight turns and included the two barriers. “Green was good” in most of these turns, providing grassy traction mainly on the outermost lines.
Up next was a very muddy section, through which took the right outside line that went through some deeper puddles. I chose this line because the I found firm ground under the puddles which offered more control and better traction than the deep, sloppy mud on the left side. Going up the muddy hill I opted for the running choice- mainly because I wasn’t able to ride up it! Then we pedaled up a long gravel climb leading up Kite Hill, which made for a great passing opportunity. Magnuson was such an awesome course and made for an exciting challenge with all the mud. I pulled out a first place finish during my 15-16 Junior Girls category and had a lot of fun in the mud with my team.
Last Thursday during practice I got the opportunity to use the Origami Fenders by Portland Design Works, and guys, these are so, so cool! When you get them, they come in a flat plastic sheet. Just punch out the rectangular-ish fender and fold the middle up and boom- you have a fender that actually works! How cool is that! Once you have the basic flap all you have to do is attach a plastic holder and put in on your bike. Bing, bang, boom….. a pair of really awesome fenders that snap on and off your bike between races! Thank you so much to PDW for sending me some really cool gear.
And thank YOU so much for reading my second blog! I love writing these, and sharing my views on a topic that I am so passionate about with you guys!