With her eye toward cyclo-cross season, Katie Compton (Planet Bike / Stevens / Kenda) has been honing her form in some mountain bike races this summer. Most recently, at the US Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado, last weekend, Compton made the trip to the podium twice. She backed up a fifth place in the elite women's cross country race with a gold medal winning ride in the elite women's short track the following day.
Compton's victory gave her a second short track national title. She also won in 2008 in Mount Snow. The short, painful effort - 20 minutes plus three two-minute laps - was a perfect match for Compton's proven talent as one of the best cyclo-cross racers in the world.
"If that race had been an hour, it would have been different. But I can suffer and go hard for this amount of time," said Compton after winning.
The path to a second national short track championship wasn't easy for Compton, who has battled with health issues such as asthma and leg cramps. In March, she was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition which she has been trying to manage ever since.
She described her experience with hypothyroidism. "I don't have any energy and I'm weak as a kitten most of the time. I have an hour of effort in me and then I just shut down. I think it's been there for awhile, but I didn't notice until it got bad enough."
Compton thinks the condition may have related somehow to her asthma. Severe past attacks have forced Compton to drop out of races and at least at one US Pro XCT race - the 2009 Bump 'n' Grind in Alabama, she ended up at the hospital.
"I'm seeing an endocrinologist to find out exactly what's wrong and get the medecine worked out," said Compton. "Right now, I'm not really training, just racing and recovering and just trying to get healthy for 'cross. It's hard to keep racing when I want to do better. I'm going through it now and trying to not lose fitness."
After a tough cross country race, one day before winning the short track in Granby, she said, "I definitely suffer - even in everyday things. I'm really tired all the time. The good thing is that I still have 45 minutes to one hour in me. I think that's why I can do short track and 'cross. It's just the longer efforts getting to me." Though she said she suffered through the short track, she made her attack and solo to the victory look easy.
Compton will have a chance to work on those longer efforts both this weekend and next weekend, when she competes in the Champéry, Switzerland, and Val di Sole, Italy, mountain bike World Cups.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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