With two laps to go in the Masters Women 40-44 race at the USA Cyclocross National Championships, Linda Sone (Cycle-Smart) was feeling the pressure at the front. You could see it in her face as she tried to push the pace in the greasy corners to hold the gap to a chasing Kimberly Flynn (Scenic City Velo-Ussc-Trek p/b Vantaggio).
And then, Sone slid out, sending the gap down from 10 to five seconds and a glimpse of panic was seen on her face.
“She was right there, I could feel her breathing down my neck.” Sone said about that moment in the race. “Have you ever had those moments where you’re under a lot of pressure, and it’s so stressful and to go to that place in your head and just try and chill. Just forget all the noise, go to that quiet place, that’s what I tried to do.”
And that’s what she did. She quickly remounted and kept on pushing the pace at the front. “It’s almost like meditation in a way. It’s that pressure feeling, you can either give up, let up or you can just keep going. That’s where you have to go in order to win.”
The two had been battling it out throughout the 40-minute race on a sunny and balmy day in Madison. So warm in fact, that the corners had turn greasy sending riders down.
“A lot of it is getting tackier and faster but then the muddy sections are getting more slippery so you’re coming into them with more speed and just sliding all over the place.” Flynn said of the changing course conditions.
After a slow start, Sone surged forwards. “See those bumps there?” she said pointing to where the course leaves the pavement at the start. “I saw people skid out the first earlier races, I saw pile ups so I was just cautious. In my old age, I’ve become more cautious, patience right?”
One lap later, Sone was at the front until she dropped her chain at the top of the first climb, and Flynn took off.
“My chain dropped and she probably had a good 20, 30 seconds. I had to close it down, she was right there but she just has great perseverance. She just kept going, she never gave up, she was just flawless, she never fell, she took those corners great, I think she’s a mountain biker, it’s very obvious, she had clean lines. I tried to follow her lines, and I couldn’t always do that.” Sone explained.
The duel was on. “We changed places probably five or six times. She was getting to me on the wide open power stuff and I was getting her on the bike handling. It was fun, probably twice a lap we traded places.” Flynn said. “I’m a pro mountain biker. She’s a road racer, we both have the fitness.”
Flynn managed to catch back up briefly on the final lap, but it was a line Sone that made her way onto the pavement. She never stopped pushing the pace however, just a small wave to acknowledge her win and a big smile.
“It’s great.” Sone said about her win. “Honestly, I’d been eying that without vocally saying it to anybody.”
After a tough battle, Flynn was satisfied with her race. “it was a wonderful race. Linda is a great competitor, her and I got back and forth every time we race. It was a fun battle, and I’m proud to take second behind her.”
Top 5 Masters Women 40-44
1. Linda Sone (Northfield, Minn./Cycle-Smart Inc.) 46:10
2. Kimberly Flynn (Hixson, Texas/Scenic City Velo-Ussc-Trekp/bVantaggio) 46:30
3. Katrina Dowidchuk (Wilmington, Del./Team Tbb-Deep Blue) 48:06
4. Margell Abel (Boulder, Colo.) 48:12
5. Heidi Beck (Delafield, Wisc./Twin Six) 49:00