Sue Butler has her game face on. by Andrew Yee

Sue Butler has her game face on before the start.

Cyclocross World Championships: It is what you work all year for!

Five days have passed, so only 360 more until the 2010 CX world championships. I am already excited, even though the fog of jet lag has definitely taken its toll. I’ve been ushered in to reality and catching up on life from being gone six and a half weeks with a to do list of a mile long, while the welcome home and congratulatory messages keep streaming in. In response, I smile, thank them and am quite satisfied thinking of last Sunday, but then the inner competitor in me reveals itself, wanting more, wondering “what if” and knowing I can do it again, better. I guess this is the hunger that drives me for the crusade of another season of cyclocross.

Arriving in Hoogerheide almost had a calming effect on me. I don’t know if it was because I was just ready to go home or I had already determined I was going to end the season with one last amazing race and I knew I had done everything I could do and it was just a matter of doing it. Perhaps a combination of both. The days leading up to Sunday seem to be a mixture of too much time on your hands and a lot of crazy energy. When Sunday finally arrived, I was ready. Laura and I decided to ride to the course and put our nose into the below freezing wind. It was a great way to start the day. The realization that again, I was at worlds was starting to set in. It is always more like a dream. Arriving at the U.S. camp, I grabbed my race bike and went for a few quick laps, only to determine that the course was even firmer and faster than the day prior. I knew it was going to be game on from the gun. My tire pressure felt good, my bike was running smoothly and now it was time to get ready and start to focus. I squeezed myself into my lovely USA skinsuit with a double layer of wool and legwarmers. It was cold and I was taking no chances. My thick Gore gloves, full length and toe warmers in my shoes and wool earband were sure to keep me toasty warm. Warming up on a trainer for the first time all season provided to be very entertaining, signing autographs and getting pictures taken in between some hard efforts and concentration. But when I went to the start line, I was ready. Both physically and mentally. I knew it was going to be fun.

sue-butler-wendy-simms-jsales_G5Y2882-e.jpg The light turned green and the surge forward was fast. One problem for me. My start was not going as visualized. I could not, for the life of me, get my left pedal in. I felt like a total rookie. I didn’t panic, but I was last in the blink of an eye. This could have been a blessing in disguise, because I was so far back that I came upon the crash and was able to ride around. Granted, I was still last and perhaps I could have, and definitely would have rather been in front of the crash, but girls lined up next to me were in it and here I was, and it was time to get back in the race. I was aggressive in the turns, powered out of the saddle on the straightaways and put my head down and pedaled. I remembered my husband Tim’s email: “Put everything out there on that course… and then some… walk away with NO REGRETS… and a smile on your face!” And that is exactly what I did. I kept chasing, passing and somehow rode that course by myself most of the time, hearing supporters along the way! I sprinted for 16th, ended up 17th. And I smiled. Of course I had set higher goals, of course I wondered if I had started better I would have done better, of course I wished I would have timed the sprint better, but that was irrelevant. I did accomplish one goal, my biggest goal. I wanted to improve from last year, and that, I did. With a smile on my face and no regrets. And now I can look forward to setting that goal again for 2010.

Thank you for reading and the support along the way. It has been a great ride! This season has been my best yet, but I guarantee it is not my last. And yes, Cyclocross season is finally over for me, but the adventures will continue. You can always come along at www.suebutlerrides.com and www.monavie-cannondale.com.

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