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Local Ironman finisher tries her hand at cyclocross
Six short days ago, Angie Murphy had zero experience in cyclocross. She never had ridden a cross bike. She never had maneuvered through barriers. She never had sprinted up a steep hill carrying her ride.
Yet, on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon, the Colorado Springs resident appeared quite comfortable turning laps in the inaugural Fall Back Cross race on a course designed by World Cup cyclocross champion Katie Compton.
Check out a photo gallery from the race!
While Compton spent the weekend competing in Ohio, more than 100 riders tested her new layout. In the women's Category 1/2 division, Rebecca Gross of Lakewood cruised to an easy victory a day after winning the School Yard Cross on a muddy course in Brighton. Danny Summerhill of Denver also pulled off back-to-back wins in the men's Category 1/2 division as he outdueled Boulder's Allen Krughoff for the second straight afternoon.
"This course was super fun because you just never stopped turning," Gross said. "You kind of had to pay attention to where the straightways were because that's the only place you could get time."
Murphy was among the riders in the Category 4 division for first-time competitors. The race director, Tara McCarthy of USA Cycling, had urged Murphy to give cyclocross a try. Barely a month removed from completing her first Ironman -- an endurance event that consists of 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling and 26.2 miles running -- Murphy remained reluctant before finally relenting to her friend's request.
"I hadn't had any practice whatsoever," said Murphy, who works for USA Triathlon.
After borrowing a cross bike, Murphy went on a pair of training rides last week and even spent a half-hour lugging her mountain bike back and forth on a runup -- a portion of a cyclocross race where riders are forced to dismount and carry their bikes.
The last-minute preparation paid off Sunday as Murphy finished runner-up to Linda Cleveland, her boss at USAT who lives in Woodland Park. Third-place finisher Jessica Johns of Silverthorne made sure Murphy's first brush with the sport included a challenge when she took over the second position early during the final lap.
"Let's just say I'm competitive so I was going to fight for second," said Murphy, who quickly passed Johns and pulled away in the homestretch. "It's an all-out effort versus an Ironman where you're pacing yourself. I mountain bike a lot so it kind of helped with some of the skills needed out on the course."
One race into her cyclocross career, Murphy said she's hooked and sees the sport as a fun offseason challenge. She's already planning her second race -- the Pikes Peak Supercross on Nov. 19 at Rock Ledge Ranch.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "I had a blast."