Cross is here…. and so are a lot of other things. It has been a complete whirlwind since getting back from the World Championship in Australia. After such an incredible experience to represent the United States of America, my brain was still in a fog when I showed up to class the day after nearly 50 hours of travel. My body was cracked from such a hard crash on course (see past blog post), but my mind was still fighting. It wasn’t time to give in yet.
In order to go to the World Championship I missed 1.5 weeks of school and came back to 2 internships and a full load of course work. It was worth every tireless assignment and hour I’ve had to make up. I felt like I was back into the rhythm within 24 hours of being back at school. I was going to classes, interning at a physical therapy clinic, interning as an athletic trainer at a high school, and of course riding my bike.
After about a week, I had had enough of the “normal” life and was ready to go back to the races.
On Tuesday, I flew to Las Vegas for the infamous Cross Vegas and Interbike. Under the lights on the warm Vegas night, we had a chance to sparkle. The crowds were gathered with true cross spirit and heckling for all ears to hear.
When the lights turned green we were sprinting through the thick grass. The pack moved right and I had scoped out a left section. Suddenly, I found myself sitting toward the found of the group. Suppressing my excitement, I settled into the pace. I was grinning from ear to ear in my heart. I was riding in the front pack of the race and loving every moment. Fighting through some of the corners where I was slinking off the back of the pack, I continued to pull myself up to the group. On the third lap, there was an attack and I found myself off the back. I took a deep breath and relaxed…then I rallied. I decided to pass every other person who got dropped. I was playing games with myself. “Ok Hannah, give it every single thing you have til the next corner.” “Good, now every single thing until the next corner.” In the sand pit, I felt my decade of running experience come into play as I caught and passed a small chase group ahead of me. By the time I crossed the finish line in a full sprint finish, I was on the ground, exhausted and happy. It feels so good to push yourself to new limits. I had completely emptied myself, and that filled me with complete satisfaction. I finished 11th on the day.
On Thursday, I was in the air again, flying back to St. Louis, Missouri. Friday morning I woke up, went for a ride, worked in the physical therapy clinic for a few hours, and then started driving to Wisconsin for the cyclocross World Cup. Oh the life of a student-athlete.
Not only was this my first cyclocross World Cup, but this was my first time on the start line in the senior category. Even though I am only 21 years old, I am no longer in the under 23 division because our race age is whatever age we are on December 31st of 2018.
This race is a big of a blur in my mind. Starting in the 7th row was a battle in and of itself. By the first corner I was already almost 15 seconds back from the leader just because of the crowds. The first descent we came too, there was such a mess of people that I dismounted, ran the descent and remounted, passing about 5 people. It was exciting to attempt to move up through the field and the crowds were legendary. I finished in 33rd, but for me this is just a number. I was out on the course for the experience.
Now, after a week of school, I’ve switched bikes again and am heading to my first Collegiate Mountain Bike Race of the 2017 season!