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Judy Freeman conquers climbing course to win Cyclo-X Louisville

November 19, 2013
Women's open field in the "Bowl of Death" in Louisville, CO

Women’s open field in the “Bowl of Death” in Louisville, CO

[updated 11/20/2013]

Sport is full of expected and unexpected peaks and valleys.

Saturday’s Cyclo-X Louisville delivered both every lap on a course built around the infamous “Bowl of Death,” a dry grassy reservoir with soggy borders at the bottom.

The signs were everywhere

The signs were everywhere

Three times per lap riders dropped into the bowl; three times they climbed out. Multiply times five for the women’s open race which Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers Race Club) won by a small margin over Ann Trombley (Tokyo Joe’s).

Freeman is riding a rising peak of consecutive top podium steps that’s perhaps unexpected for a mountain bike specialist on a cyclocross learning curve.

Trombley’s second placed her on the podium twice in as many weeks. Another peak. And unexpected. Trombley, who coaches several of the ladies who pinned on numbers Saturday, said she never knows how well she’s going to race.

Around them riders who planned to peak a month ago and then peak again for ‘cross nationals in January found themselves in a planned valley. Others like Kristal Boni (Rapid Racing) dipped into unexpected valleys; barely into the first lap and just after the pit area, course tape temporarily disabled her bike’s gears.

Freeman’s win was her third in the Cyclo-X eight-race series. That makes six wins total so far this season in local Colorado cyclocross races, the most of any woman in the open category.

“I’m stoked about that. It’s pretty cool,” Freeman said post-race as she talked skewer quality with a mechanic under a tent battered by the wind. “And I never feel like it’s guaranteed. Anything can happen. It’s such a short race. I’m excited…”

Race Action

The course designer obviously wanted the venue’s “Bowl of Death” nickname to live up to its promise. Not much longer than five seconds after the start, a set of barriers at the far side of the first turn forced riders to slow and leap into a moat of muck on the other side before climbing to the top of the bowl.

Ann Trombley at the front climbing out of the "Bowl of Death" in lap two

Ann Trombley at the front climbing out of the “Bowl of Death” in lap two

Kristin Weber of Boulder Cycle Sport reached that initial challenge first. Trombley jumped over at the opposite end of the barriers. Junior Ashley Zoerner (Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle Co) joined them up the hillside and they carried a small gap into lap one.

Meanwhile Freeman, who got a slow start because she had trouble clipping into her pedal on the uneven turf, began a march to the front from eighth in the field.

By lap two Freeman rode third on course in a front group of five led by Trombley with Weber, Melissa Barker (GS Boulder / Studio 1 Dental), and Karen Hogan (Team Kappius.) Jess D’Amato and Kristen Peterson of Evol Foods pursued not far behind. Later in the race Tough Girl’s Margell Abel, Ksenia Lepikhina, and Heather Szabo (Tokyo Joe’s) formed a mid-field chase group.

Judy Freeman with Ann Trombley tucked in behind

Judy Freeman with Ann Trombley tucked in behind

Freeman and Trombley pulled away in that order and gained a ten second gap into lap three on Weber and Hogan who rode together ahead of Barker. In the fourth lap Freeman surged into a lead that became a solo win with seven seconds to spare over Trombley.

Given the open nature of the course, Trombley, a former coach of Freeman, could observe the leader for most if not all of the last two laps. What did she see?

“…Judy was railing the corners and I was trying to stay with her,” the coach and former Olympian said. “She’s just strong…And she is smooth on the technical – she’s very good. So she doesn’t lose any energy on that stuff so then she can power on the climbs and on the straightaways. She looks great.”

Hogan also looked great on Saturday. She gained a gap on Weber, riding a fast third lap, and held it for third place at the finish. Weber got fourth. The effort seemed to deplete nearly ever rider’s reserves; each of the top ten claimed their places on the finish line alone.

What's Judy Freeman up to?

What’s Judy Freeman up to?

“The course was pretty rad,” Freeman said. “It’s funny, it was kind of like a two hour course condensed into 45 minutes. It was really bumpy. Some really long stretches into the wind. For whatever reason it was a little more, I don’t know, I guess I’m going to say a little more taxing…But it was a great course. It had a little bit of everything. It was fun.”

Freeman said she’s been enjoying the different types of courses in the Cyclo-X series and the skills each has tested. “I’m stoked because I think it’s really preparing everybody for [cyclocross] nationals coming up…” In October the Crankbrothers rider indicated she’s eager to take part in what she anticipates will be a great “vibe” when nationals comes to Boulder.

Weber leads the Cyclo-X points series. The next race takes place this coming Saturday in Westminster.

For full results from Cyclo-X Louisville see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.

Cyclo-X Louisville women's open podium: (l-r) Karen Hogan 3rd, Judy Freeman 1st, Ann Trombley 2nd

Cyclo-X Louisville women’s open podium: (l-r) Karen Hogan 3rd, Judy Freeman 1st, Ann Trombley 2nd

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