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Lessons from the mud: women’s 40 – 44 cyclocross national championship

January 10, 2014

Most people don’t go to a cyclocross race to be reminded that life is unpredictable. But that’s at least one of the lessons spectators received from watching the women’s 40 to 44 age group race Thursday at the cyclocross national championships in Boulder.

Nina Baum becomes a ‘cross national champion

After winning the race Nina Baum (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Mountain Bike Team), a really good mountain biker, described herself as “terrible” on the ‘cross bike. She called her result “unexpected.”

Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport) only races cyclocross. The USA Cycling ranking system, whose outcomes some would treat lightly, predicted a win for Weber in this race. And with good reason. She enjoyed a fantastic season, winning multiple local races and the Colorado Cross Cup competition.

For most that kind of momentum can lead to high hopes. Weber, who lives in Boulder, wanted to win “really badly, because I have not had a good nats yet. I’ve been fifth two years ago, fourth last year, and I was like – of all of the years, this is the year.”

Baum produced the winning ride while Weber placed sixth. Each came to Thursday’s race with the best they could offer at the time. “She was off and I couldn’t even respond. I was like, whoa, she’s flying,” Weber said about the Stan’s NoTubes rider. “Mostly I just didn’t have the legs today. I just knew it pretty much from the gun. What are you going to do with that? So I just tried to do my best and minimize the damage I guess.”

Kristin Weber passes Lauren Costantini at 2014 cyclocross nationals, 40 - 44 race

Kristin Weber passes Lauren Costantini at 2014 cyclocross nationals, 40 – 44 race

So much goes into a successful forty minutes of racing – fitness, skills, and curveballs that arrive in the week leading into the big day.

For example, Weber’s children were sick. “…it’s stressful – usually I can roll with that I’m so used to it. That’s not the first time I’ve had two ER visits in one day,” she said, reflecting upon the previous weekend’s family events.

Then she crashed warming up on Wednesday. Before Thursday’s race she rubbed embro all over her neck and back to ease discomfort there.

“It can be so many variables that make it all come together when you have this caliber of women; the best in the country are here…I’m bummed but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t,” Weber said on Thursday. “I had an awesome season and this was just a mediocre day.”

While they achieved different results, both women held one additional thing in common aside from an unexpected outcome on the bike: their kids matter the most.

Kristin Weber's son, Will, had a question for mom after the race

Kristin Weber’s son, Will, had a question for mom after the race

For Weber, it’s her young two daughters and son. “I just have perspective. I have three kids that are way more important than bike racing [which] is my hobby…”

For Baum, it’s the kids on a cycling team she coaches called Get Out! New Mexico.

Winning a cyclocross national championship, she said “is nice because I feel like I’m representing the kids that I coach which is great…I just think of them when I race ‘cross. Mountain biking is more for me. But this is, I do it with them, I do it for them. I would probably not be racing ‘cross at all if I wasn’t coaching a kid’s team…”

Several of her kids raced on Friday. Two got top five results. They showed up and gave their best. And likely they’ll try again. Because you never know what can happen next.

Nina Baum's winning Cannondale

Nina Baum’s winning Cannondale


[Video to come]

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