By Robert Annis For Planet Adventure
For some, Saturday’s cyclocross race at Major Taylor Velodrome was a welcome return to form. But for one winner, it was emphatic proof that she was ready to retake her place on the podium after nearly dying months earlier.
Bob’s Red Mill rider Nicole Borem won the elite women’s race just five months after a pulmonary embolism nearly took her life.
“Today was the first day I felt really good since I almost died,” Borem said. “This was my fifth cross race I’ve done this year. When I did Yorktown a few weeks ago, I felt fairly alive, but today I felt like a bike racer again. … To go from not being able to brush my teeth in the hospital to standing on the top step of the podium is incredibly special. I’m very blessed.”
Borem said her game plan for the day was “not to finish last or get mentally down on myself.” When race leader Janelle Renschler wrecked on a greasy corner of the course, Borem attacked, keeping the pressure on until crossing the finish line.
Second-place finisher Sierra Siebenlist of Indiebike.com took second place, nearly 45 seconds later.
Next up for Borem? She’s focusing her efforts on elite nationals and master’s worlds in January. Her expectations are in line with her fitness – she has good days and bad days on the bike – but she believes lining up at master’s worlds would be a victory in itself.
Borem admits her elite win was due in part to the split field, as many of the top elite riders in both the men’s and women’s raced in the collegiate elite category; Saturday’s race also served as collegiate regionals. Marian University’s Katie Antonneau and Josh Johnson won their respective collegiate races after dominating the elite fields less than a month earlier at an earlier race at the velodrome.
Antonneau – coming off a huge podium against a stacked USGP field in Louisville last weekend -- beat teammates Coryn Rivera and Jackie Kurth for the top spot on the podium. Johnson decimated the men’s elite collegiate field, beating teammate Weston Luzadder by 2:45. Johnson took command of the race early, hoping to regain some momentum after what he considered to be two lackluster USGP races.
“My fitness was good, but mentally I wasn’t all there (last weekend),” Johnson said. “I was able to stay focused out there today.”
Indiebike.com’s Cory Swihart won the elite men’s race over J’s Bikes’ Andrew Truemper, but not without some drama. Swihart went down in a second lap crash, destroying one of his shifters. After grabbing his pit bike, Swihart pedaled like a madman, finally catching Truemper’s wheel.
“I was patient,” Swihart said. “I knew he (Truemper) would make a mistake and when he went down, I attacked.”
Competitors will return to the Major Taylor Velodrome for a third time this season Dec. 3 for the seventh race in the 12-event Indiana Cup series.