Though she’s been enjoying a wildly successful cyclocross season, Luna star Katerina Nash will wrap up her 2013 campaign in Bend, Oregon, this weekend, opting out of competing in any European World Cups, or the February 2 world championship in Hoogerheide, Belgium.
A bronze medalist at the 2011 world cyclocross championship — and the winner of the Roubaix World Cup stop in January 2010 — Nash went into this season planning an early exit after several years of full mountain bike and cyclocross seasons stacked on top of one another.
Nash has won 10 of 11 races she’s entered this season, finishing second only once, to World Cup leader Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), on November 2 in Cincinnati. Nash also bested Compton over the Cincinnati weekend, as well as twice in Providence in October. She currently sits second on USA Cycling’s Pro CX rider standings, behind Elle Anderson (Cal Giant), though Anderson has started 18 Pro CX events, to Nash’s 11. And though she hasn’t raced in Europe this season, Nash was ranked sixth on the UCI individual rankings as of November 26.
The winner of both CXLA races last weekend in Los Angeles, Nash will travel from the Bay Area, where she’s spending time at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville, California, to Bend to compete in the UCI-sanctioned Deschutes Brewery Cup on Saturday, and the finale of Oregon’s Cross Crusade series on Sunday.
“I have had an amazing cyclocross season, and part of the reason is that I haven’t focused as heavily,” Nash said. “I haven’t traveled as much, I have been able to rest up, and I’ve had really good training, which is exactly what I needed. I’ve done both mountain bike and cyclocross for the last four seasons, and that translates into 10 months of racing per year, and that’s just too much.”
I know I could go and do worlds, but I have been enjoying more of a pick-and-choose approach,” she said. “With less traveling, and less racing, it really helps my results. If you look around, there aren’t many riders that are combining two seasons for so many years. At some point you have to back off, and take an off-season.”
Nash, 36, also dismissed any notion she might be retiring in 2014.
Rumors swirled after an interview she’d done in September with Czech web site mtbs.cz, was mistranslated into English. Though Nash stated that she would not be chasing the entire mountain bike World Cup circuit in 2014, she will very much be racing for Luna again next year, pursuing mass-participant events such as the BC Bike Race, the Downieville Classic, and, possibly, the Leadville 100.
Nash won her first ever World Cup event this year, in Mont-Sainte-Anne, in Quebec, and said she intends to return to that race in August 2014, as well as the World Cup stop in Wyndham, New York, the following weekend, which would, unfortunately, conflict with Leadville.
“My contract was through 2013, and I’ve extended it through 2014 with an adjusted schedule,” Nash said. “I am not doing all the World Cups, but I will still be heavily involved in both (mountain bike and cyclocross), there’s just not a set schedule. Like many North American racers, I’ll be backing off the World Cups. Logistically, they are unsustainable. You travel to Africa, and then Australia, and then Europe, and it’s really hard if you are based in North America.”
Nash said the World Cups make sense for those aiming at an Olympic berth. However, after competing in the summer Olympics in 1996 and 2012, as well as the winter Olympics, in cross-country skiing, in Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002, she no longer feels compelled to chase an Olympic medal. Nash finished a disappointing 14th in London last year, 5:30 behind France’s gold medalist Julie Bresset.
“You have to do the World Cups if you want to go to the Olympics, but at some point it doesn’t make sense any more,” she said. “I’m no longer willing to fly across the world for just one race. I’m looking forward to a change, but I want to stay involved at the top level. I’m looking forward to competing in domestic events where I’ll be riding with a thousand other people that love mountain biking. It will be a new challenge in my cycling career. I did BC Bike Race a few years ago, and it’s as good as it gets in mountain biking. It’s just back to basics, back to why you ride your mountain bike in the first place. I’m excited to do a few events like that next summer.”
At the 2013 world championships in Louisville, Kentucky, in February, Nash was in tears at the finish line after a dropped chain on the final lap cost her a second bronze medal; she finished fourth.
Still, the Czech star said she had no unfinished business that needed to be resolved in Hoogerheide, and that she was at peace with the decision to holster her unbelievable run of late-season form.
“I don’t think about it that way,” Nash said. “I was just looking forward to a change this fall. I knew I was carrying good fitness, I had one of my best seasons ever on the mountain bike, and I carried that into cyclocross. I didn’t expect to have the season I have had. I haven’t focused on cyclocross, but it’s been really fun racing. Maybe it’s been good to step away from the high-pressure racing, for me to realize I’m in the sport for the right reasons.
“I like to ride my bike, and I enjoy racing, but I don’t feel like I am missing out. I’m not really sad that I’m not packing my bags for Europe this Christmas. I know there is another year, there are more big events, and I want to give myself a chance to recover from all of the travel of the last few years. Who knows? Maybe I will pick it up next year, but it feels okay to not be heading to Europe this winter. At the same time, it feels good to know that I am still competitive and able to ride at a high level, and to compete with Katie Compton at the same time that she is winning World Cups.”