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Finding her groove, Judy Freeman takes second weekend win at Zombie Cross

October 28, 2013
Zombie Cross women's open podium (l-r) Judy Freeman 1st, Caitlyn Vestal 2nd, (Laurel Rathbun 3rd, absent)

Zombie Cross women’s open podium (l-r) Judy Freeman 1st, Caitlyn Vestal 2nd, (Laurel Rathbun 3rd, absent)

[updated 10/28/2013]

“What are you?”

At a race just days before Halloween, and Zombie Cross in particular in Parker, Colorado, riders responded to that question with a number of storybook answers. Princess Leia. The bride of Frankenstein. Lori Grimes, surviving mom and wife of the zombie apocalypse.

When Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers Race Club) raised her arms skyward as she claimed her second victory in as many days, she wore no costume other than that of bike racer. Her win at Zombie Cross on Sunday followed Saturday’s first place at Cyclo-X Xilinx.

The momentum she built on course counted as much – if not more than – Sunday’s result on the finish line.

“…it felt really good to be able to come in first, to roll in first,” Freeman said after her win at Zombie Cross, “but I guess most importantly I felt really good on the bike, and sometimes when you’re riding and you feel good about how you’re riding that’s the best thing to walk away with.”

"Kitty" Margell Abel coming off the covered bridge on the Zombie Cross course

“Kitty” Margell Abel coming off the covered bridge on the Zombie Cross course

Race action

Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports) sped away on the pavement ahead of the field followed by Margell Abel of Tough Girls, Feeback Sports’ Lisa Hudson, Laurel Rathbun (Exergy Twenty16), and then Freeman.

Before the riders entered some tight turns early in the lap, Freeman attacked.

Then the field dealt with the “the run-up from hell,” which Freeman later described as one of the most challenging parts of a course that included sand, barriers, and short climbs and descents connected by S-turns and straightaways. The blinding angle of the sun at the time of the women’s open race made it difficult to pick out the best line on the steep run-up. Freeman cleared it on the bike more laps than not.

On the "run-up from hell" in the women's cat 3 race

On the “run-up from hell” in the women’s cat 3 race

By the second lap Freeman had moved into first on course and quickly built a lead of fifteen seconds.

Behind her Vestal and Rathbun rode as a twosome in that order until the next to last lap when Rathbun moved into second. But Rathbun’s claim on the number two spot was short-lived. She crashed early in the bell lap.

Caitlyn Vestal led the chase twosome with Laurel Rathbun

Caitlyn Vestal led the chase twosome with Laurel Rathbun

Trying to gain speed on the start-finish pavement, Rathbun put her head down. She looked up just in time to see course tape but without enough time to negotiate the corner where she slid out in the sand, she explained post-race.

Vestal seized the opportunity and flashed by. No one could catch Freeman, who zoomed on to a solo finish. Vestal placed second. Rathbun held onto third.

When she spoke after the race, the Crankbrothers Race Club rider sounded determined to put together a strong cyclocross season. If this weekend and the UCI races in Boulder earlier this month are any indication, that goal is becoming a reality. She placed eighth at the Colorado Cross Classic and tenth in the Boulder Cup.

“I didn’t have the best cross country season because I was dealing with a back injury and so I’m starting to figure that out, starting to get back to where I where I can ride and train really well,” Freeman said. “I want to get into a season where I can actually race, so I’m excited about that.”

The Valmont Bike Park venue for cyclocross nationals is fueling this Boulder resident’s season as well.

“My biggest motivator is, nationals are in Boulder this year, and I think that’s incredible. I’m so happy that Boulder brought it to town,” Freeman said. “It’s going to be such a great vibe and I really want to be a part of it.” She intends to enter the women’s elite race.

Find full results for the women’s open race on the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website.

Judy Freeman with her Scott Cross Addict. She likes how it accelerates.

Judy Freeman with her Scott Cross Addict. She likes how it accelerates.

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