When your background is in mountain biking, it is tough to find better features than the gnarly descent chutes on the 2019 Lakewood Cyclocross Nationals course. When you are taking on those descents on a mountain bike frame with flat bars, it is just that much better.
Such was the case for Kira Mullins (Avout Racing) in the Junior Women 11-12 race on Saturday. "I don’t think I could have done the descents with drops," she said after the race.
Even though Mullins loves going down, it was the way up that would prove to be her most impressive move of Saturday's race.
The Junior Women 11-12 race started with Lily Edwards (Rock Creek Velo) getting things started. The D.C. area native ripped out to an early lead after the holeshot. Edwards held the lead spot until Elsa Tomko (NWCX Project) caught her and made the pass right before Pit 1. The two then joined forces while winding toward the looming first run-up.
At the run-up, Mullins bridged and then charged up the steep, muddy feature ahead of her two fellow travelers at the front.
"Honestly, I was surprised that I got ahead on the run-up because I have a mountain bike frame and its harder for me to shoulder," Mullins said. "I was surprised, but I think it really helped me, getting ahead on that run-up."
Once at the top, Mullins exploited her lead on the descent and earned a gap on Edwards and Keaghlan Robinson (NWCX Project). Robinson then took over solo second after the sand pit.
One lap into the three-lap race, Mullins led Robinson by 15 seconds. Edwards and Alexandria Beard (BYRDS) sat another 20 seconds back.
In the next lap, the race's final finishing order took shape. Mullins maintained a 22-second lead, and Robinson held onto second. Beard got a gap to take third by herself.
Mullins rode a strong last lap to take the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
"Going fast enough, and also staying safe," she said about the keys to holding her lead. "Also getting enough of a gap that if I did crash I would be able to get back up and stay in front."
Robinson finished strong to take silver. Beard took third, and Edwards and Tomko rounded out the wide-angle podium.
For more from the Junior Women 11-12 race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Kira Mullins: Junior Women 11-12 Winner Interview