Our coverage is brought to you in part by Feedback Sports. See them at the Women's Forum tonight if you're in Reno.

Our coverage is brought to you in part by Feedback Sports. In Reno Friday? Check out the 2018 Mechanics’ National Championships.

One thing that makes cyclocross great is it requires total focus for 30 to 60 minutes of racing. One lapse in concentration or bad line choice can take a career ride and turn it in an instant. On Friday in the Women’s Masters 55-59 race, one rider learned this the hard way.

The 55-59 race was bound to be a good one from the call-ups. Among the riders in the field were two former Masters world champions in Karen Brems (SunPower Racing) and Lori LeClair Cooke. The two faced off against each other at Masters Worlds in Switzerland, and LeClair Cooke came away with the title. Brems would certainly be happy to win this round.

Early in the race, it looked like the rematch was going to again go to LeClair Cooke. She got off to a big lead, before disaster struck during the second of three laps.

Early on, Lori LeClair Cooke was in control. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Early on, Lori LeClair Cooke was in control. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

LeClair Cooke crashed on one of the technical descents, forcing her seat askew. She could not get it back online and had to stand and pedal past Jurassic Park, through the start/finish straight and to the pit. As she exited the pit, Brems made the catch. From there, the shock of what happened was too much for LeClair Cooke to overcome.

Brems opened up a gap of her own and did not give it up during the last trip about the dry circuit in Reno. For her persistence after losing contact with LeClair Cooke. she was rewarded with a National Championship.

“Anything can happen in a ’cross race,” she said about her comeback. “I just rode my own race and it worked out.”

Karen Brems finished in a celebratory mood. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Karen Brems finished in a celebratory mood. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Anything Can Happen

It did not take long for the two former World champions to get to the front. Brems and LeClair Cooke got off the front while Marit Sheffield (Park Avenue Bike Shop) and Susan McDonough (BMB Racing) led the chase behind them.

Lisa Fitzgerald navigates the off-camber. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Lisa Fitzgerald navigates the off-camber. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

LeClair Cooke picked up the pace heading out toward the technical hill, and Brems could not follow. After one lap, LeClair Cooke had a comfortable lead solo off the front. Her lead held until her section fateful trip up the hill.

Lori LeClair Cooke had a comfortable lead early on. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Lori LeClair Cooke had a comfortable lead early on. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

On one of the off-camber descents, she hit one of the many rocks protruding from the dry ground and went down. Everything seemed fine to her, but then she saw her saddle pointing the wrong way. She had a long way to go back to the pit. She did her best to pedal standing up, but it was a less-than-ideal pedaling position for a long period of time.

“I went down and thought everything was fine with the bike, and then I looked and my saddle was going the other direction,” she said. “There was really no way for me to fix it, so I kind of rode standing up for a while until I could get back to the pit, which is a good distance off the hill.”

Brems was ready to take advantage of the opportunity. After falling behind early, she found her pace and rode as fast as she could handle at the high Nevada elevation. As LeClair Cooke pulled through the start/finish, Brems quickly narrowed the gap. When LeClair Cooke emerged from the pit, the two riders were side-by-side. A new race was afoot.

Earlier in the race, Brems got stuck after hitting the sand second. This time, she made sure to be first. Experience often finds a way to pay off. “I led in the sand pit, so she had to run it,” Brems said about her last lap strategy. “Then I got there and just went for it.”

Went for it Brems did. She extended her gap and cruised to the Masters 55-59 national championship.

Karen Brems was focused once she had the advantage. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Karen Brems was focused once she had the advantage. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

LeClair Cooke finished second and Laura Howat (Ski City Bike Club) won a tough battle against Colleen Wanty and Sheffield to take the third podium spot.

A line of riders heads down a straight made faster by the drying conditions. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

A line of riders heads down a straight made faster by the drying conditions. Masters Women 55-59. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Interviews and results from the race are below.

Women Masters 55-59 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity STTimeGap
145BREMSKarenSunPower RacingRedwood City CA28:10
230LECLAIR COOKELoriPlymouth MA28:5646
340HOWATLauraSki City Cycling TeamSalt Lake City UT29:591:49
447WANTYColleenReno NV30:172:07
543SHEFFIELDMaritPark Ave Bike ShopPittsford NY30:252:15
641BURCHTinaNewbury Park CA30:492:39
733MCDONOUGHSusanBMB RacingYork ME30:552:45
838COYNELisaTeam Thrive p/b Kaiser PermaneSeattle WA31:233:13
942FITZGERALDLisaKUHL Cycling TeamSalt Lake City UT32:204:10
1035LIDENLaurenMichael David Winery Cycling TeWoodbridge CA32:234:13
1137WEBSTERBridgetBike Like a GirlReno NV32:334:23
1229GARVEYDeirdreBoulder Cycle SportBoulder CO32:594:49
1331HIGGINSSallyArvada CO33:595:49
1428CHANCEKimberlyRBM/Matrix RacingDallas TX34:456:35
1532STIEDUHARLindaRacer X Cycling/ColoBikeLawGolden CO35:006:50
1646DALLASMaryBend OR35:537:43
1727MORRISSEYSandraTeam Cross ColoradoBoulder CO35:53s.t.
1834ROBERTSKeliMontrose Bike ShopPasadena CA36:118:01
1936FENTONCindyRamona CA36:478:37
2048NIGHTENGALEMichelleCA Technologies RacingModesto CA37:239:13
2126JOHNSONKathy LWomen's Free State RacingLenexa KS38:069:56
2244FAUROTMichelleBike Like a GirlReno NV39:0310:53
2339MONTANEZLeticiaMontrose Bike ShopAltadena CA40:1512:05
2449STEWARTKristiBike Like a GirlReno NV41:2213:12

For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.

Photos from the races and reports are available to license here, with more to be added throughout the next week.

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