My First Cyclo-Cross Race Report

Good evening everyone! Before I get into my latest race report I’d like to say a few things. First I’d really like to thank everyone for your comments on my marathon race report. They meant a lot especially since I’d been AWOL since my HM report in September. Second, this marks my return! I will be back tomorrow and hopefully most everyday like I use to be. I’ll explain my absence in tomorrow’s post. Tonight though let’s get to the fun stuff 🙂

Some of you may remember me telling you about Cyclo-cross in early September…..”cyclo-cross combines both road and off-road riding seeing racers ride on grass, mud, sand, gravel, pavement for up to 60 minutes. The course is typically no longer than 3 kilometers, with racers attempting to complete as many laps of the course as possible in the time limit.”

Well they also do this even if it snows and sure enough it snowed last night! I’ll be honest I really wasn’t looking forward to this once it snowed. Snow and biking doesn’t seem natural to me. I did pay for the race though so I got up and in gear this morning. I was told you could practice on the course if you were early enough so I made sure to be there a 1/2 hour early.
When I got there I realized they got twice as much snow as we got at home 45 minutes away.

The practice lap went pretty well except for one spot called an off-camber? It was a section where you had to ride across the side of the hill. With the snow though it was pretty tough as your rear wheel kept wanting to slide down the hill. Other than that spot my only other nervousness came from going down the big hill and I heard because of the snow we were only 1/2 way up instead of the top like usual. Well 1/2 way was fine with me as being a newbie and trying to mount my bike before going down it 1/2 way was challenge enough. After one lap I was good to go so went to put my bib on.

THE RACE
Because I was new I lined myself up at the back of the pack. Dead last as I even lined up behind all the kids with some as young as 5-7?! I figured what the heck as I’m not sure of my footing in snow and I didn’t want to hold up the better, more experienced riders. This race as well was a feeling out one for me to decide whether to include some of them in my 40 race quest next year.

I don’t remember if they just said go or what but I do remember seeing a wave of riders in the distance as the elite women and faster men blasted off ahead of us. It’s kind of hard race to do my usual report as it’s just the same lap over and over again till they tell you you’re out of time. For the most part the race went well for me considering I didn’t train at all for it even though I knew for 2 months I’d be doing it. My running fitness allowed me to complete the race without dying but you could tell it wasn’t the same as if I’d been biking for the last 2 months.

Some details I remember: I managed not to wipe out once all day and only put my foot down twice when I shouldn’t have had too. On one lap I came across a young girl maybe 6-7? riding just ahead of her dad I said to her “jeepers I didn’t know if I’d ever catch you!” Well I think this bugged her as she picked the pace up a bit! Glad I won’t have to race against her when she grows up cause if she has that spirit now she’ll kick some butt! I did manage to pick the pace up to pass and stay ahead of her 🙂 I also made it down the big hill each time on my bike and without wiping out. Unlike the more experienced/crazier/no fear riders I basically stopped at the top of the hill,made sure the bike was under me properly and then waited till there was no one in my way when I went down(didn’t want to take anyone out).

My biggest problem with the race besides inexperience was my bike itself! I was using a mountain bike that had grip shifters and a front derailleur that wasn’t behaving all the time. The grip shifters were a problem as I’d accidentally shift when I didn’t want to when I’d change my grip depending on the section of course I was on at the time. The derailleur was a problem when I wanted to use my lower rear gears while still on the middle gear in the front. When I went to the lower gear in back the front would slip to the lower as well unless I held onto the shifter the whole time which was hard on the wrist and arm.

The problems I had though were of the small variety as one guy broke his leg on that off-camber section! A kid went down in front of him and when he tried to go around he wiped out. His foot didn’t un-clip from what I heard and he broke his ankle or leg. This would have been less than 5 minutes into the race and maybe a quarter lap into it! The good thing about this for me was they changed the race line and we got a nice flat section to ride the next time through….I know I’m terrible! 🙂 Afterwards I did tell a friend of his to wish him well.

In the second race that I stayed behind to watch, one guy had his day end before that section going down the big hill. He wiped out and his rear derailleur broke off! He could have used another bike he brought or borrowed one as it was allowed but he decided to pack it in. I’m guessing it was because this was the Elite Men’s race and he would have no chance by the time he got back racing? It was tough to see a guy’s day end so quick but at least he didn’t break his leg!

All in all it wasn’t too bad and I’ll probably add a race or two to my schedule next year. I don’t think I’ll add all 10 though. I’ll also be trying to add the ones from earlier in the season so I’m not riding in snow. If I was to add all 10 I’d want a better bike and I’m not sure I want to put out money on yet another bike. The cost of the races are cheap and the racers and organizers are very friendly so they have that going for them so who knows maybe more than one or two? 🙂

Well I think I’ll end it there as it seems to me like I’m all over the place. I’ve tried to straighten it out a few times but I’m getting nowhere. Guess I’m a little rusty with the blog writing as well! Here’s a few pics taken today with my Iphone. The pics of me were to show the mud on me but it didn’t show up too well. Ok I’ll see you tomorrow…promise!

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5 Responses to My First Cyclo-Cross Race Report

  1. vickith says:

    Hey John!
    I’m super happy that you came out today. Not many people would race their first cyclo-cross in such conditions. So big pat on the back for it. Definitely add some of the earlier season races in next year. In the summer we should hook up for some more practice sessions. Be proud that your rode down the hill – I know some experienced riders who chose to run down it!
    cheers,
    vicki

  2. Congrats!!!!

    Good to hear from you – I had been wondering when you’d post again!

  3. Wes says:

    You are a brave one! Cyclocross + Wes = recipe for disaster 🙂

  4. Astrid says:

    It sounds like you are having an absolute blast with the races. I agree, it is awesome to hear from you again. I’ve missed you!

  5. congratulations! Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty brave..bike..snow..mud.

    Looking forward to reading more. Welcome back!

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