Sunday, October 25, 2009

E's cross race 1

Our first cyclocross of year (my first ever and A's second ever, although first on a cross bike) was a couple of weeks ago now. We had some family visiting but we still dragged them on a cold, wet day to Broomfield to race in Boulder Cycling's 2nd race.

We had just gotten my bike and ordered a bike for Amber, so we would be sharing mine. Fortunately we ride the same bike size and almost identical seat height, so fitting isn't an issue. Unfortunately, A's race was immediately before mine which left me unable to 1) pre-ride the course (kind of key for cross racing, but...) 2) to practice clipping into the Candy pedals that we just put on the bike (this turned out worse than #1).
There are a few new skills to learn for cyclocross that we just don't practice while swimming, road biking, running, or Nordic skiing. Oh sure, some triathletes work on flying mounts onto their bikes, but since we focus on long stuff, we just don't. And not many triathlon courses (road tri's at least) put barriers in your way. Or had sand on the bike course. Or off camber grass sections.
Naturally, we would have been practicing these skills before racing, but more naturally we started racing first. Kinda like the swim of my first triathlon. I did get a bit of practice dismounting and re-mounting while commuting, but did get a good scrap from falling on the gravel path from an unsuccessful dis-mount.
Anyways, we showed up to the race with the tiniest bit of practice for me and zero practice for very nervous A. A and I signed up and then got her on the bike for about 10 minutes of mounting and dismounting. She then pre-rode the course a bit and got ready to race. I walked around a bit to see some of the course and heard from A that there was another set of barriers on the far side of the course. Shortly after the start of her race, I went to change and ride the trainer a bit to warm up.
With a bit of warm up in, I went back to the start line and watched A finish. She was worried that the rear wheel was flat, but she thinks that during 65% of her races (the other 35% being ski or run races). I got the bike and headed to the start.
I got lined up pretty far back, but was fine with that since I didn't know the course well. Starting a race with 60+ cat 4 guys can be a bit sketchy and having that race be a cross race just adds to that, but the start seemed pretty well controlled. I had one foot clipped in, but had some trouble getting the other side in until we were near the first set of barriers.
The 1st set of barriers seemed very tall the first time around (pretty tall the rest of the time, but not as bad). I just ran through the first sand section based on earlier observations and rode the second section. I didn't worry about getting clipped in during the sand section, but started to get annoyed when neither side would clip in. We had a pretty mild section of path and grass until the next set of barriers during which I got passed by a few guys that I had just passed while riding. This would become a familiar theme of passing people while riding and getting passed back over the barriers. Skills, I need skills.
Over the barriers and through the woods (actually there were only a few trees) I continued to struggle to get my feet clipped in. It took almost all the way to the start/finish line to one side in. On the s turns, my lines were terrible. Too much speed going in, too wide and slow going out. Skills, I need skills.
On the second or third lap, I had a nice little slide down the off camber grass section. It might have been fun except for the facts that I was racing at the time and it knocked my chain off. I eventually had a bit more luck clipping into my pedals, but still spent at least 70% of the race with one or both sides not clipped in. Maybe that's why your not supposed to race on new equipment.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful as I only hit the ground one other time on a slippery 180. The 45 minutes of racing went by very quickly and I was soon done. Many lessons learned, but it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cross Action

We haven't wrote for quite a while, but we finally has something worth blogging about. The awesomeness of cyclocross!

Well, that sentiment is somewhat tempered by my hip which too the brunt of a crash (not the only) on Sunday. But, this morning I told A that I felt like I got kicked by a small horse, which is an improvement over yesterday when I felt like I got kicked by a frigging Clydesdale.

Last year, A suffered through a very snowy cross race using my mountain bike. Not good times. She was pretty convinced that her life you be complete without every doing another cross race. Fortunately, I was able to convince her to try again and in the course of the last two weekends, we've done three races. We're hooked. More details on the races and photos to come.