Pan American Championships
The first Championship race of the season. The first chance to win a special jersey. The Pan American Championships is where the champion of the American Continent is crowned. That always brings a lot of excitement, because everyone wants to win the honours.
This year was particularly special because for the first time, the PanAm Championships were in Canada.
Our plan was to use the Saturday race as a tune up for the Pan American Championships of Sunday. Good thing we had this race as a preparation, because I was a total disaster that day!
I forgot my race bag at the rental house. Then I did a very unnecessary and sketchy pass 2 minutes into the race, which led me to crash on my own. I dropped my chain in the crash. By the time I got the chain and myself back on the bike, I was super far back. I chased, I flatted, I chased again, making plenty of mistakes… Somehow, I managed to finish 3rd and I attribute that placing solely to the fact that I oddly stayed extremely calm. I did enjoy slipping and sliding in the mud though 🙂
On to the big race…
Back in 2014, the Pan American Championship of Cyclocross was introduced for the first time. Back then, I was an U-23 and because of the way the schedule was made, the U-23 Women was the first race of the day. And so when I won the title that day, historically, I became the first ever Pan American Cyclocross Champion. I always thought that was pretty cool.
Today, I had 1 goal. That goal was to repeat, but in the Elite category this time. To achieve that, I knew I had to do the opposite of yesterday…which means, I’d need to bring my race bag to the race and have a clean race. However, I was also going to have to stay calm and be patient.
A few years ago, the only way I knew to win a race was to go to the front from the start and grind it out until the end. Nowadays, though, I realize that you only have to be first when crossing the finish line. I had that in mind today during the race. It doesn’t matter by how much you win…especially for a Championship race. You just want to cross the line first. Defending champion Katie Compton wasn’t racing this year because she is already in Europe, so the battle ended up being between Ellen Noble, Kaitie Keough, and myself.
It was pretty tactical; we were staying together and testing each other from time to time. I pushed it in a long staircase and managed to get a little gap, which I extended going into a technical section. Ellen ended up coming back to me, and when she did, she tried to pass me and crash doing so. That mistake allowed me to open a gap again, which I kept on the last lap until the finish. I was really happy to take the title!
The best part of the race, though, was the energy that we could feel out on the course. Canadians have the FEVER, and today, they truly showed me that they did. Throughout the course, their screams gave me energy.