Saturday, November 12, 2011

Warning: Cyclocrossing Zone!!

What a mindblowing season of mountain biking! It was so awesome hanging out with great people and meeting new friends. Accomplishing what I thought was unreachable and having a great time along the way is something I won't soon forget.

With the Cross Country season starting to feel like a distant memory, I find myself looking for other avenues to fulfill my need to compete and maintain fitness. Enter Cyclocross. Here in this cycling discipline wedged firmly between road biking and mountain biking I find my fix. Composed of a very interesting cross section of the cycling community, you are just as likely to find yourself racing against a mountain biker, a road rider or even a triathlete or runner. But it seems more laid back than any other bicycle competition I have been a part of. For example, the beginning of the race is fairly casual and almost anticlimactic. The race official tells everyone they have one minute before the start of the race. Then he slowly backs out of the way after about a minute and nonchalantly saying something, "okay, you can start."

For those of you unfamiliar with Cyclocross, the best way I can describe it is racing through a grass field or park on a course that has been marked off with tape on a bike that looks a lot like a road bike but with knobbier tires. The courses usually incorporate obstacle and short steep climbs that are not rideable for most as well as lots of sharp 90 and 180 degree turns. In Cat 4 where I have been racing, the race is 30 minutes in duration which usually encompasses 4 laps. Such a short race amounts to revving up to red line from the get go and barely coming back down before pushing right back up to red line and doing that for a half hour. I can tell why people hate it so much that they love it. It hurts so much it almost feels good. Sound an awful lot like masochism to you?

I don't have a Cyclocross bike at the moment and have just been using my Goblin 29er mountain bike and it seems to be doing okay. I'm finishing in the top half of the field so it's not like my bike is killing me.

In fact, at my first race in Sheboygan, WI, I was awarded $5 every time I cleared a steep climb that no one else in my class could. The reason was I had gearing for that type of thing on my mountain bike while everyone else in my class did not have the gearing for it on their CX bikes. There was one other racer on a mountain bike there, but he was riding a single speed which did not afford him the opportunity to find the right gear for the climb. End result: $20 cash in my pocket on my way to a 7th place finish. Not too shabby for my first CX race; ever. The top 3 won medals and a pair of socks. I'll take my $20 thank you very much :)

In my 2nd race last weekend in Estabrook Park in Milwaukee, WI, I did okay. There was more than twice as many competitors than in Sheboygan and I finished 20th out of 52 or so. Like I said I'm really doing CX for the fix and the fun so I am more than happy just being out there competing.

I'll probably do 1 or 2 more races before the offseason really settles in (which I can tell you, I am NOT looking forward to). But it will give me some time to work on a bunch of the video I've shot at the end of the season and iron out my plans for the offseason and next season. I'll talk about that in other post. For now I am going to ride outside as much as possible until it just gets too cold to bare.

Other flight crew news:

For a great read, check out my buddy Dan's blog post on what pizza and an epic road trip have in common. Be sure to read carefully. There'll be a quiz later.

You can also check out Brent and Kevin's adventures at the Collegiate Mountain Biking Nationals at Angelfire Resort in CO in this awesome video put together by the Flight Crew's own Brent Davidson.

Lastly, I'd like to wish Wendy Davis a speedy recovery from her ankle injury sustained during a recent ride. Heal up quick!!!