Skip to content

Eleventh U.S. cyclocross title for a Katie Compton adept at change

January 16, 2015
Arly Kemmerer guides the elite women after the start of 2015 cyclocross nationals. Katie Compton will slot into the first ten riders to begin lap one.

Arly Kemmerer guides the elite women after the start of 2015 cyclocross nationals. Katie Compton will slot into the first ten riders to begin lap one.

If Katie Compton could urge a cyclocross bike from zero to sixty miles per hour in four seconds like she accelerates her flaming orange BMW in autocross, she’d find a way to do it.

She’s acquainted with the word “slow” as it exists in the English language, but it’s more enemy than friend. For example, when asked about switching to disc brakes when they first appeared on ‘cross bikes, she replied with a question along these lines: why use something that slows you down more when the goal of bike racing is to go fast? Photos of her in action on a Trek Boone 9 at World Cups this season exhibit cantilever brakes, though Trek has provided her with a disc set-up too.

Physiological adversaries like mold and food allergies and asthma insist on reducing her speed. This season they have plagued her consistently.

“She hasn’t been feeling good for months,” husband and mechanic Mark Legg said in Austin on Monday, the day of the women’s elite race at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships. “The last time she felt good was Valkenburg.” That World Cup race took place on October 19.

At nationals after the race, referring to the stretch of time before the whistle signaled go, Compton said, “I definitely was a little more stressed than I usually am, but mostly because my lungs aren’t functioning as well as they could.”

In the press she sounds very practical when it comes to the physical demons that hamper her breathing. There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Instead she focuses on how to adapt her activities and choices. Avoiding certain foods, for example.

The skill of adaptation served her well Monday when she let the need for speed drop, if temporarily. It proved essential for winning her eleventh cyclocross national championship against a field of women hungry to take advantage of any iota of weakness.

“I raced it smart; I didn’t go too hard at the start, which I usually do,” she said. “I was just conservative and kind of waited [to move up.] And then when I came through after the first lap where there were ten minute laps, I was like: ‘OK, it’ll be four laps and I can gauge my effort by that.’ I just needed to stay within myself today.”

She made another change too. According to Legg, at nationals she rode an entire race with disc brakes for the first time. Granted, peanut butter mud aided the decision by clogging the cantilever brakes during pre-ride.

Those messy course conditions became her ally. Running was the preferred way for most riders to negotiate slippery, off-camber sections and some uphill turns.

“I think today was so technical. That helped me a lot because there were places to recover. Whereas if it had just been super-fast, it probably would have been harder for me,” she said. “So I loved the fact that it was techy and hard and a lot of on and off the bike so I could save some time there.”

Luck in the form of weather took her side too in another fashion. Officials had delayed the race one day after Saturday night’s heavy rain caused locals to raise concerns about damage to the Zilker Park venue and its valued heritage trees.

“If the race was yesterday, I think we might have a different result; she wasn’t feeling very good at all,” Legg said Monday. “We think she may have had some food that didn’t quite agree with her.”

At the world championships a little luck would come in handy for Compton to at last win the rainbow jersey. To secure those stripes at the Tabor venue in the Czech Republic, she needs that one perfect day that’s eluded her. No leg cramps. A course venue without allergens that trigger an asthma attack.

Based on her own comments in a recent interview, for that perfect day she also needs to exercise those adaptation skills to make another kind of change. Her coach, she said, has told her if she stops wanting the worlds win so badly, it will happen. “I wish I could do that,” she said after recounting the coach’s observation.

Her post-race remarks Monday indicate that, after a season of having no choice but to make friends with the word slow – or at a minimum its cousin “slower,” she may have already accomplished that attitude shift.

When the race announcer asked her about expectations for worlds, she said, “If I can race and have a good race and just feel well, then I’ll be happy with that.”

We’ll find out how the approach works on January 31 at Tabor.

Right behind Arly Kemmerer and Ellen Noble, Crystal Anthony, Rachel Lloyd, Georgia Gould, and Courtenay McFadden set upon the first stairs in lap one

Right behind Arly Kemmerer and Ellen Noble, Crystal Anthony, Rachel Lloyd, Georgia Gould, and Courtenay McFadden set upon the first stairs in lap one

cc

By the end of lap one Katie Compton is off the front with Rachel Lloyd trying to catch up

By the end of lap one Katie Compton is off the front with Rachel Lloyd trying to catch up

cc

Ellen Noble, fourth on course at the end of lap one, would finish as the best U23 rider

Ellen Noble, fourth on course at the end of lap one, would finish as the best U23 rider

cc

Rachel Lloyd falls on a descent and Kaitie Antonneau flies away

Rachel Lloyd falls on a descent and Kaitie Antonneau flies away

cc

Georgia Gould looked super powerful and moved up to finish fourth

Georgia Gould looked super powerful and moved up to finish fourth

cc

An eleventh consecutive cyclocross title for Katie Compton who went slow at first to go fast overall

An eleventh consecutive cyclocross title for Katie Compton who went slow at first to go fast overall

gg

Gallery

 

 

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: