YANQUING STATION, CHINA- Promoters of the China’s inaugural UCI cyclocross race recruited riders from around the world to race the Qiansen Trophy event, held September 21, about 50 miles outside Beijing. Among the racers from 18 countries, was Nor Cal’s own, Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Blue Book-ROCKLOBSTER). After kicking jet lag and recovering from Chinese coco puff withdrawal, Sherrill discussed the finer points of her first international cyclocross experience.
Rumor has it, you earned an all expense paid trip to China to race your cross bike? Tell me your secret!
Fill out the raffle ticket – you might win! Seriously, outside of simply having the appropriate prerequisites (a UCI license and rank, a passport, and the willingness and ability to travel during the necessary time window), I was just lucky. My timing was good and racer interest was lower than I thought it would be – due in some part to Cross Vegas, I think.
What was the local response to the international cyclocross field?
Yanqing didn’t know what had hit them. They were obviously wondering, who are all these skinny white people and why are they dressed like circus clowns in skintight neon? We got a lot of heads turning when we rode down the street, especially the first group ride out to the course, through town, with a 50-strong peloton. Between the spandex parade and the super-loud canti-brakes-on-carbon that announced our arrival at each intersection, we were a spectacle.
How did the plans to ride the Rock Lobster on the Great Wall of China go?
I’ll sadly need to use Photoshop to create that moment. There just wasn’t time to figure out how to get there, with my bike, and get my bike on the Wall. I wasn’t the only racer who wanted to ride the Wall, but when they stuffed us into a bus and took us on a tour, we knew better than to complain about not being able to bring bikes. Next time!
What was the highlight of the trip?
Amongst many highlights I’ll have to say the actual race, for me. It was pretty spectacular to be in a small break that got away almost immediately in the first lap, in a UCI race, and with so much media coverage, in the form of television cameras all over the course. I was a little incredulous, but excited out of my skull, at the chance for a UCI podium. Until my derailleur hanger snapped with less than a lap and a half to finish. Oh well – these things happen; it’s cyclocross!
Any sort of China withdrawal going on or are you happy to be home?
I would have enjoyed a little more time there to travel a bit, but I’m happy enough to be home. The good thing about being in China less than a week is that I didn’t have time to get burnt out or stressed from traveling, which I know from experience traveling elsewhere happens after awhile. It was still novel and fun even as I departed.
How did the jetlag combined with a double-header race weekend treat you once you returned from China?
I was pretty messed up from the jetlag the first few days after I deplaned at SFO. After a couple days of slothing around feeling like Santa Claus was hitching a ride on my shoulders, I started to come around, but only by realizing I needed to be really disciplined about maintaining a normal schedule. By the weekend, I was on-track enough to feel okay racing at CCCX and BASP.
You’ve already put in more travel miles in two weeks than most put in during an entire CX season. What are your plans moving forward?
I’ll travel to Colorado for the UCI races in Boulder in a couple weekends with teammate Jay Melena, do a few more UCI weekend around the country as the season continues. Local races all the weekends I’m not away, Nationals in January. You know – racing, racing, lots of racing!
We’ve seen you on a couple Men’s B podiums during the start to the season. What’s the deal here?
Ahem, that’d be men’s SINGLESPEED B podiums. Actually, Folsom was open singlespeed, but I still managed a third place there. I’d like to more practice racing SS in hopes I can land a bit higher on the Nationals podium for that championship event. Since nobody in NorCal offers women’s SS, outside of the state championship race, my choices are either race elite women on a singlespeed, putting me at a great disadvantage, or race the men. I’ve chosen to race Bs as I am actually competitive there, where I’d likely be spat off the back of the men’s As. I also want practice with large-field starts, but also working around traffic, for UCI and Nationals women’s events. The fast B guys give me a run for my money, but there’s plenty of people move up and around. Plus, who doesn’t like beating on dudes – I know you do, Juiliano, so why can’t I too??
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