Winding down and ramping up

Last week marked the end of my first season (half season but really who’s counting?) as a pro road racer. It’s been such an amazing ride and I have met such cool people and learned so much I really wish it wasn’t over.

I have to admit that in the last month I was as close to being burned out as I’ve ever been, more mentally than physically.  Cascade Classic was so challenging to get through just five days after being doored by a cab driver knowing that my body was not performing anywhere near its potential.

The last race of the year was the Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge in beautiful (and hypoxic!) Aspen Colorado.  I was so excited for this race because Niels was coming with me, we had plans to visit some very dear friends in Fort Collins, we were going to ride roller coasters in Denver, we were getting to see two stages of the U.S. Pro Challenge, and my much needed two weeks of rest was just on the other side of the finish line.

The race was originally supposed to be a three day stage race including a hillclimb TT, a circuit race, and a crit.  Due to lack of funding (I don’t know from who but I have my ideas) it was shortened to just a crit.  Although saying “just a crit” I think takes away from all of the amazing and hard work that Jessica Van Garderen put into making this race a reality and also the fact that racing “just a crit” at 8,000 feet is roughly the equivalent of racing a crit while getting punched in the stomach every lap … especially when you live at about 132 feet above sea level.

Despite a dude saying some dumb shit and then totally backpedaling, the race was super fun and really fast, one of the fastest of the year with our average speed being about 27 mph for the hour.  It was also crazy aggressive as the ladies showed all the spectators (who frankly were there to see the men) that women can be fast and aggressive too.

The day after the race I somehow managed to talk Niels into riding to the top of Independence Pass to watch Stage 4 of the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge.  The climb from Aspen to the top of Independence is over 4,000 vertical feet and tops off at a brutally hypoxic altitude of 12,095 feet as shown by our sweet outhouse pose.

At the top of the climb we settled in with the least crazy cycling fans we could find to watch the men come over the top.  It was a good thing we did because we got to see our number 1 guy, Jens Voigt come over first on a solo attack that he had launched just miles into the stage and that held through to the finish.

After leaving Aspen we spent several days with some good buddies and even went to an amusement park where we rode all of the terrifying roller coasters and water slides.

So that’s it, road season is done and dusted and I’m totally ready for cross which I guess brings me to my second big announcement of the year …

I have been lucky enough to be asked to ride for the p/b Blue Competition Cycles Elite Team!  As many of my friends know, as much as I love to race on the road, Cyclocross is my most favorite.  Last year was a breakout year for me when I won several local races and managed to hold my own at the UCI level.  I’m so excited that has seen enough potential in me to give me this awesome support.  I am getting the opportunity to race at Cross Vegas as well as the majority of the USGP series (provided it’s still happening) and possibly nationals.  I picked up my beautiful new Blue Norcross SL yesterday and am building it up this weekend!  The team is really interested in working to build the women’s end of the sport and being the cranky dour feminist that I am, this is right up my alley!

I’m grateful for the much needed rest I’ve had over the last week but I’m chomping at the bit to start cyclocross season where I’ll try to be less of a hot mess and more of a pro!

About Jess Cutler

35 year old pro road and cyclocross racer. National Champion. Generally nice person.
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