Colorado Cyclocross State Championships

by U23 Athlete Ellen Campbell

Two weeks before USAC Cyclocross Nationals 2.0 in Louisville, KY, myself and the Fort Lewis College cycling team headed up to Parker, CO. Our mission was to take the collegiate women’s and men’s A win, which would grant us a front row call-up at nationals.

We arrived in Parker after a 7-hour drive from Durango and settled into our hotel. Our races were in the afternoon on both days and the high temperature for the weekend was around 35 degrees. The course was at an equestrian park with packed out sand corners and lots of short punchy hills. They had set up a fast-paced course with very little off-the-bike features. There was one steep and short run-up and one set of log barriers. Some of the top racers could ride the entire course without getting off the bike. This was a power course and the key would be to hit the corners as fast and smooth as possible. Although this course was not technical, I was excited to race.

On Saturday, we raced the collegiate race. Us girls raced with about 4 other junior girls, there were about 8 of us total. It was a good, fast start, Katja took off and raced alone for the first laps. For the first few laps I sat in and worked with the other girls in the chase. I found myself learning with every lap, where to take the inside line, where to sprint and even where to rest. I even figured out which obstacles, like the run up, was easiest for me to ride or to run. Eventually, I caught Katja and we worked together with another junior. I made a couple small mistakes in the middle of the race but soon found my groove and was able to finish the race strong. In the end, we accomplished our goal and I secured the front row call up with a win followed by Katja and then another Fort Lewis gal.

Next up was Sunday’s open race on the same course. I had little to no expectations for myself for this race because it was a strong field with a few world cup riders and women that had been racing since September. I had the last call up on the back row, so for the first few laps I just worked on moving up and staying smooth. As the race progressed, I got stronger. Luckily, I knew all the lines from Saturday’s race, which really helped me figure out when to push harder and when to sit in. The raced finished with a little battle between us 3 Fort Lewis girls. I finished 7th and Katja finished just behind in 9th.

Overall, it was an exciting weekend filled with important race experience and lots of fun with the team. I’m looking forward to a challenging and action-packed national championships in Louisville, KY.