The first cyclocross race of the season took place at St. Edwards Park (Kenmore, WA) in the form of the Washington Women of Cyclocross Festival.
This women focused event is a terrific introduction to cyclocross. In the past year or so I’ve seen many promoters and prominent racers voice enthusiastic support for bringing more women to cyclocross. At the elite level, more US races are offering equal payouts to the men’s and women’s fields. Until recent discussion about the pay discrepancies, I didn’t even think that there would have been a pay gap.
Having an event like this helps grow the sport and will help bring more voices to the call for more racing opportunities and equality for women. And if you get a chance to see the elite women race, be sure to catch it. You will find a lot of people saying the women racing is some of the best they’ve seen!
The day at St. Edwards started with a cyclocross clinic geared toward beginners. This was a great start as there were a lot of new racers there on the day. The clinic started off with discussions of tire pressure, then moved into the importance of dismounts and remounts.
The beginners race was one of the first to go off and it looked like everyone was having a good time and rising to the challenge. Having the friendly and competent instruction earlier in the day from accomplished women CX racers seemed to be big confidence booster for a lot of the women.
Although this day was all about the women racers, there was one all-inclusive men’s race. This field included all abilities, ages and a variety of equipment choices.
The race starts progressed throughout the morning much as any other race day. The lower categories and less experienced races taking the early starts and the higher categories schedule for the afternoon.
Plans went a bit off the rails though when the wind picked up.
It was windy around mid-morning, with a few tents getting moved about, but with no real damage. Not long after that though, the wind really started kicking in.
Looking around at the team tents you could see canopies coming off the frames and teams grabbing onto tent rails to keep them from blowing away. A few tents getting tied down to their attendant vehicles, but even those tents were still getting squirrelly.
The final blow that ended up in cancellation for the remainder of the day’s racing came about with large, tree size branches falling down on the course and nearly onto the crowd at the beer garden. This was at around noon, and you could see groups of people hastily taking down team tents and working to salvage course tape blowing streamers in the wind.
All in all, it was a good morning of racing and a memorable introduction to cyclocross racing for many new women racers. The unfortunate weather circumstances were surely disappointing for those who were set to go in the afternoon races. It’s just that much more anticipation to get the first race of the season under the belt!