Braving frigid temperatures, unpredictable terrain and billowing gusts of wind, two local riders, Chris and Hollie McGovern, weaved their way to strong finishes at the USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships in Boulder, Colo.
Hollie, competing in the women’s 40-44 age group, took to the course first, racing Jan. 9 on a soft, muddy surface that was far different from what she had experienced in the early morning pre-ride.
“It was a 100 times different,” Hollie said. “It went from frozen in the morning to mushy when I raced, and I prefer the ice, but it was still freezing. I was freezing.”
Holly started in the third and final row of the 24-woman race but quickly made her way through her competition.
“My start was not very good,” Hollie said. “But I clawed my way up to seventh, then I got a front flat on the last lap and had to run my bike to my pit, which took about three minutes, so I lost a bunch of places and had to fight back and got 13th, mid-pack.”
Hollie finished with a time of 49 minutes and 16 seconds. The event winner, Nina Baum of Albuquerque, N.M., finished in a time of 42:58.
Hollie said she plans to race again at next year’s nationals, which will be in Austin, Texas, and hopes to get a top-three finish.
“I would like to podium at the next nationals,” she said. “Of course, I’ve had dreams of being a national champion, but I might have to wait until I’m 80.”
Chris took to the course Saturday, racing in the highly competitive men’s category 1/2/3 Master 40-plus age group, along with 127 other riders.
Chris started at the tail end of the pack of racers, making his 23rd place finish all the more impressive.
“For me, it was more like, ‘Let’s see what I can do,’” Chris said of his mind set heading into the race. “I had a ton of athletes that I coach there, so it happened that I was there, so I raced, and I happened to have a really good day and finished 23rd.”
The frozen course proved to be tricky for some riders but not for Chris.
“Our course was very frozen, and it had been muddy the day before, so the ruts were frozen, and I just think a lot of the people didn’t have the experience to handle that,” he said. “It’s scary. If you’re caught in a rut, it’s just going to throw you to the ground unless you really know how to ride ’em.”
As the race progressed Chris weaved in and out of the competition, passing more than 70 riders along the way to his 23rd-place finish.
“I was in the zone. What can I say?” Chris said. “I laced that thing up like a pair of boots. I was catching people the entire race. I just kept moving forward.”
Chris’ time was 51:41. The winner of the race, who is also the course designer, was Peter Webber, who finished in a time of 47:38.
A pair of riders Chris coaches also fared well with Tobin Ortenblad finishing fifth in the men’s 19-22 age group and Carolina Gomez Villafane taking first in the women’s non-championship race.
Ortenblad’s performance earned an invitation to the World Championship team, and Chris will be traveling to the Netherlands to help him prepare.
Chris and Hollie own Real Wheels Bicycle Studio in Nevada City.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.