Report contributed by Nancy Labbe-Giguere
When I decided to buy a road bike two years ago, I was told by many people that I should try ‘cross and I should register for The Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester. At that time, I thought it was stupid. I couldn’t be a racer: I had no fitness, I was too old, I had no skills and it sounded painful. I still had no idea what ‘cross was about; but what everyone that was talking about it had in common was their passion for the sport and it attracted me. I did not really understand how they could be so passionate, so I decided to try it. My first time at Gloucester featured a beautiful and scenic site on the ocean that was spectator friendly with a nice and challenging course and the famous beer tent. My racing experience itself was not very memorable, other than the pictures of my crash in the sand pit found later on the web. But the most important thing for me was that I had a good time, and I decided to continue.
My second trip to Gloucester was last year; and I had no expectations about the race other than having a great weekend. I even used the lure of the beer tent to convince coworkers to spectate; and one of them is now racing ‘cross as a result. Just to let you know, I finished 5th last year on Sunday and this showed me that with a more performance-oriented focus, I could do well. In the mean time, LadiesFirst were recruiting for their development team and I contacted them about joining. Then, the registration opened and I saw that it was crossresults.com staging. I was so excited that I signed up early anyway. The week before, I was looking on bikereg.com at how many of us would be racing, and it increased from 70, to 80, then 90 and it closed at 99! WOW! Great! Usually, there are 30 to 50 women racing. Also, I noticed new names and several non New-England racers. This would be a competitive field.
Saturday morning came, I saw my LadiesFirst teammates, then we started warming up in our team tent area. Crossresults.com had staged me in the front row. The downhill start was scary; but I survived and made my way to the sand pit near the front. I passed some people, battled for position, closed some gaps, lost some positions and I finished 5th at the end. I was happy but I knew that I could do better. My teammates were back, smiling and some nice congratulations words too me!
Sunday was a more classic course with the uphill start, the big run-up and the long flat section that I loved from the past. At the starting line, some rivals informed me that they staged behind me because they trusted my start. Emma White got the hole shot; and I sat second wheel. We were quickly joined by Libby White just before the run-up. At the end of the first lap, I used the start-finish hill to close a small gap that had developed between me and Emma. I also noticed that we had a gap on the 4th position and encouraged others to go hard. I took the lead on the long flat section before the chicane and continued to hammer up to the start-finish hill. Libby White was not to be seen again. I was riding with Emma until a young junior and a lapped rider appeared after the run-up. Emma passed them before the chicane, but I was stuck behind through the tight turns. As I tried to close the resultant gap, two more young kids were riding side-by-side on my favorite long stretch. I decided to pass between them, but I caught one on my shifter and he went down hard. I felt really bad about that. (If you’re reading this, I’m sorry!) The last lap was very painful. I was unable to regain contact with Emma. I worried about crashing; but I had a lot of encouragement and made it to the line 2nd. My only regret for the weekend was that I couldn’t find the junior or his parents later, so I was unable to apologize to him in person.
LadiesFirst Development team results:
Nancy – 5th
Rebecca – 56th
Devon – 57th
Anna – 64th
Nancy – 2nd
Devon – 53rd
Rebecca – 61st