Elite racer Sue Butler brings us a report from the trenches of this season’s first World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland.
by Sue Butler
When I found out I was lining up 27th, I decided not to stress about it. That is the price of not going to Worlds the year prior and not having the [UCI] points. I knew I wouldn’t be getting a holeshot. What I didn’t anticipate was One: having no one behind me, because the 15 or so girls after me slotted in somewhere to the left, and Two: getting pinched in the short straightaway, making backing off the only solution. I was 32nd down the straightaway. To make matters worse, I got elbowed in the first corner, then put into the fence just moments later. Do I have “push me around” tattooed on my forehead? I am not going down. What I was thinking was, Really People? Is that necessary? Oh, that’s right. I am in Europe. I better get used to it.
At any rate, I was in the back. Not where I wanted to be. Not where I anticipated being after the straightaway. I would move up, but then get caught. Girls were not riding the off-camber steep poppers that were very rideable. Shocked that they were braking and caught off guard, I would ram them from behind and my frustration came out in rather unsportwoman-like behavior, yelling, “Are you kidding me??? Come on, ride that!!!”
The energy and effort to keep moving up after each unnecessary dismount were frustrating at best, but I kept pushing. What else could I do? I was in 25th after the first lap. That was a hard-earned 25th. And then I worked five more laps for five more spots. I felt good and the course was super fun. Technical. Lots of off and on. A long sand pit to run, only to remount, go up a steep up, down an off-camber descent, and then around a quick corner to dismount, run stairs and try to clip in before plunging into a corner. Then ride for 15-20 seconds before a set of barriers. The off-camber and ups and downs were all rideable, except one after the pits after a corner.
After I got through the bad traffic, I actually could ride and enjoy myself. I started racing without anyone in my way. What a great feeling. I had Amy [Dombroski] in my sights, but did not close the gap. After the race, I just chalked that up to experience. Next week is another race, another chance. And with the re-set of UCI points which comes before that race, I may be further up the grid. What I do know is I am sharpening my elbows, getting my Euro hat on and holding my lines, racing a bit more aggressively.
In the front of the race, Katie moved up after a slow start, sitting maybe 15th, then went off the front, putting time in on all of us. Katerina finished a strong third in a sprint. Amy and I cooled down together on the awesome bike paths, and I asked her about her race. She said she went backwards, it wasn’t awesome. We met in the middle. Even with our somewhat disappointing races, the things we agreed on were that the course was super fun and it’s way too beautiful here. Oh, and a bad day racing is still better than a good day in the office. Until next week…
I would like to thank my sponsors for the great ride: Ridley, Reynolds, Rotor, TRP, Vittoria, Lazer, Sram and of course, Hudz and Vista AutoGroup Subaru and everyone else that makes it possible for me to chase my dream. I hope to be chasing it faster and faster…