Last year I randomly went to a cyclocross (CX from here on out) race to watch my friend Chrisgo race. I had never heard of CX, but the minute that I saw all these hard core cyclists running with their bikes, jumping off their bikes and then back on without falling flat on their faces, I knew right away that this was something I had to try. It reminded me a little bit of riding my bike in the horse pasture down the street from where I grew up. Fortunately these cyclists weren’t having to dodge piles of poop everywhere. After the second race I went to, I made the decision that I would try it, at least once. It looked hard, but at the same time it looked like a lot of fun.
As a little girl, I always walked a fine line between girly and tomboy. I liked my dresses, I liked kicking soccer balls against the school building during recess. I liked to do tricks on my bike (and subsequently falling off it), I liked climbing trees, but I really liked having my hair pretty too. I’m a girl, I liked pink… and I still do. So, when I saw Chris in his Black Sheep Cartel “outfit,” (and yes I know it’s called a kit now) I knew I wanted to rock it.
I bought a new bike, slapped some CX tires on it and was ready to roll. Here’s the catch, I am a commuter as far as my bike goes. I run for exercise and I run about 3 races a year… and not for competition. Let me write that just ONE more time, and NOT for competition. So when I decided to race my first race, I kept telling myself, just for fun, just for fun. And that’s what I did. I didn’t check out my results because I didn’t care, I just raced to do something different. One thing I do know; I came in DEAD LAST.
But cyclocross is fun! It’s tough, it’s tiring and it is challenging. Furthermore, something I REALLY want to do again. What was so funny to me about riding the course at Swope Park is that it did really remind me of being a kid again, even horse poop was scattered in certain areas. The course for the typical CX racer was probably very average, but for me, not so much. I can ride in the grass just as well as the next person, but trying to remain pedaling while going around sharp corners is another matter for me and something I’ll probably have to work on a lot more in the next few weeks. Climbing hills does not phase me, in fact it was in the hilly areas where I was able to overtake a few of the competing ladies. As a runner, I run hills about every third workout to keep my gluts strong. I have mastered hill climbing and have been able to transition into that part of riding. It’s all about breathing and that I can do. So, I’m able to hold my own on a hill, but those girls were able to get right back at me when it came to the long straight-away on pavement. I guess sprinting is another area I will have to work on. One of those fancy trainers is definitely in order for this girl!
And then the single track dirt through the woods part of the course! That got me and I was too nervous to run my bike over those “natural barriers,” aka logs in the middle of the course that I just jumped over them. To my surprise, that part of riding my bike as a kid came back easily. And I did slow down at one point because one of my fellow lady riders hit the ground hard. I totally forgot I was racing, slowed down, and seriously almost got off that bike to help her. All I could say, was, “oh my God are you okay… oh crap, I can’t stop to help, but I want to.” She was like, “I know… I know, I wouldn’t stop either… keep going.” But this poor girl looked miserable. So, I just kept riding and then got passed by about three girls. I guess they know the drill better than me.
So I came in last, no biggie. All that means is that I have only one way to go, up! I can only get better and for right now, all I want to do is ride my bike!