VERONA, WISCONSIN — As temperatures rose throughout the day, course times slowed as conditions became more greasy, slippery and generally treacherous. Even race winner Linda Sone (Cycle-Smart) readily admitted to sliding all over the course and falling several times. She told Cyclocross Magazine, “If you increase your pace a little bit, and you’re tired, the likelihood of going down is just there.”
The four-lap race opened poorly for Sone, who was sitting mid-pack when the racers left the pavement and headed onto the muddy section of the course. With a false flat and muddy uphill that caused some riders to dismount and run up, the course started hard and pushed racers to their limit early. As an announcer put it, racers had to “push the needle to the limit, and then break the needle.”
With three to go, Sone had moved into first place, but only five seconds behind her, Kimberly Flynn (Scenic City Velo-USSC-Trek) was chasing hard through the finishing straight. Seconds behind her was Katrina Dowidchuk (Team TBB-Deep Blue) and in fourth and fifth were Heidi Beck (Twin Six) and Jennifer Herrell-Rhoades (Bicycles of Tulsa), respectively.
As the racers continued around the course, the power needed to place well steadily increased. Sone said, “I thought it was tackying up though – it was less icy, the hills were difficult, getting greasy, but Kim was able to ride all the hills though.” Parts of the course were touch-and-go, with some riders pedaling through while others found running more efficient. Sone was trying to ride the sand pit in early laps, but ran at the end once she regained her lead. “I had to [run], I only had so much left in the tank. I had to chase two times to get back up to her, and because that, my quads were just … I didn’t have very much left.”
Dowdichuk spent her race in “no man’s land,” as she told us, until Margell Abel was able to bridge up to her, at which point the two began dueling for the third podium slot. “It was hard … really hard,” Dowdichuk said. When asked how she handled the slipperiness of the course, she said, “I prayed … It was a little embarrassing, but I just went really slow. I think staying upright is a little more advantageous.”
With two to go, there was a shift, and Flynn was ahead of Sone by seconds. The two traded places throughout the race, rarely getting more than a few seconds away from each other. And with one to go, the two were still together going through the finish. Behind them was Dowidchuk and Abel, who were battling for third. Behind the top four, Heidi Beck was furiously making up time after falling behind in previous laps.
Coming into the finish, spectators were surprised to see Sone alone, comfortably cruising in for the win. “It was a mind game. I was trying to dig down, and then thinking about maybe giving up. It went back and forth so many times.”
Sone told us that she was familiar with Flynn, who finished second, and had raced against her before. “She was flawless, I never saw her fall, and I was stumbling everywhere. There were a few girls who were strong, so it could have been anybody … I am pretty lucky, I had a lot people rooting for me.”Finishing third was Dowidchuk, who told us she dropped Abel on the hills in the final lap, followed by Abel and Beck.
To find out more about Linda Sone, check out Issue 14 of Cyclocross Magazine, where the full-time firefighter was recently profiled.