Dombroski representing the US at the World Championships at Tabor. File Photo ©Bart Hazen

American Elite racer Amy Dombroski is in Europe preparing for the fast-approaching World Cyclocross Championships. Read on as she gives us a play-by-play of her experience at Sunday’s World Cup at Pont-Chateau. Stay tuned for a profile of her ’cross rig, the Ridley X-Fire, coming soon!

Bridge of Cat Water

by Amy Dombroski

That’s what Pont-Chateau means in English, right? At any rate, I’m glad it wasn’t a bridge over troubled water…only my start was. I’ve gone full gear reverse in UCI points and in today’s field of 28, I was right around the last one called up. No worries though – that’s really not many people to work through, especially in today’s wide open course. The course was reminiscent of CrossVegas: wide track, long straights, some fast corners, but more tacky than that Vegas sponge-turf. And a balmy 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit felt almost as shocking as Vegas’ 90 degrees. I think this was the first Euro course that I haven’t been scared on, it was just balls-to-the-wall fast and wicked fun.

When I’m not on the front row I always hope I’ll find that opening, that magic passageway void of elbows, colliding wheels, and crashes. Although starts are always important, today was less stress if it didn’t go to plan, so I bided my time. Again the aggressive nature of racing was present, as a few times I was stuffed into fences and ridden off lines. But after yelling “you cow!” at one rider my anger switched into a new gear and I was able to work through a good bit of women on the first lap, in particular on a descent through a couple small, soft ruts where many women were sitting up to take a breath.

After this descent we ducked into a wooded section of the course, which held a smoking fast, tacky wide trail with two stair sections. My dismounts and short little steps were spot on at these, but my remounts are what I needed to focus on. After the second set of stairs we went up a long drag of a climb (this section sparked my memories of Vegas the most). It rounded left where, cross-eyed, I had to force myself back onto the big chain ring for a descent into a U-turn and back up another drag climb through the second pit and back onto the pavement through the start/finish.

The night prior to the race I took inventory of where the important efforts would be made and where I could potentially take a breath. The course ended up being so fast that it seemed the gas pedal always needed to be pushed. But certainly the biggest effort was after that second set of stairs leading into the Vegas wall. Here is where I made the majority of my forward momentum in an attempt to leap frog group to group. With three to go I found myself with a group of three who were not overly willing to share time at the front, so I was stuck with debacle of whether to sit on front to drive the pace, or to sit on and lose time to racers ahead and behind us. On the final lap I had in my mind where I was going to make my big attack to clear the other three girls, but found myself with a prime opportunity earlier in the lap for this attack and went for it, holding off the chasers for 12th place – my second-best World Cup result.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your support and belief.