Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday Cyclocross Race

2 posts in 2 days! If you missed Bec's birthday, scroll down.

Sunday was my first ever cyclocross race. It is a combo of road racing and mountain biking, but twice as brutal. We ride bikes that are basically road bikes but they have knobby tires and mountain bike brakes so when it is muddy, your brakes don't get clogged up with gunk. The courses are typically a 1.5-1.9mi loop in a city park, mostly on grass but there is some pavement included. The course is flagged and/or has cones. They make it technical so you zig zag up and down hills, descend a hill and do a 180 turn and come back up, put up barriers that are about 18 inches high (or huge old telephone poles work too) so you have to get off your bike and jump over it carrying your bike, then you get to ascend a steep hill. They make it so you have to dismount your bike 3-4 times a lap, unless you are skilled and can bunny hop stuff. I don't fit the later group. Cross racing as we call it involves a lot more confidence on taking off camber corners with a tree to fall on if your bike wipes out on you (see below).

I had ridden my bike only 6 times since my 5 week rest period after the half Ironman, so I have NO fitness for racing. I wasn't last, but I didn't care (I did pass 2 people). The race the was 10min from our house and 6-7 other teammates did my race so I went. I decided to ride a sustainable pace, not letting myself get sloppy and crash on a barrier or something and get hurt. So no crosseyed riding, but that happened anyway. It;s unavoidable. I got off the poorly marked course twice (can't remember the second time but remember getting off course somewhere a second time). I also almost fell twice, but stayed upright. It built my confidence on tricky surfaces, but I'm still a wimp.

The race was to be 30 min, but I got lapped sadly with only a couple hundred yards left on a lap and the race coordinators made me do an extra solo lap, which I shouldn't have needed to do. I raced for 43 min while the winners went for 35 min. Uh. Good practice. It was fun, but very hard and scary when your rear wheel is sliding out from under you on a 180 degree turn!!!

Take a look at the picts and you can get an idea of how the courses are set up, technical aspects, etc.

Here I'm zig zagging up and down steep hills. The course here is marked with yellow caution flagging and wood stakes (which I tried to not fall on as that would seriously hurt).

Here we came up a steep hill after flying down an equally steep hill. I really had to grind out the last couple of yards. Uh.

So immediately after I ascended the hill in the previous pict, we went about 20 yards and did a 180 into a sandbox. I carried my bike through both sections of sand, while I should have gotten back on the bike and rode through the second one which immediately followed the first (I just didn't think to do that and was never behind anyone that rode the second section). It stunk. I walked through on most laps. Tough to run with your bike.

Here's me with the barriers. Just behind me are the yellow barriers that we ran over and then we jump back on our bikes and ride more. Uh.

Here is the scary corner. Worn down corner around this huge tree. I unclipped a foot most laps (I kept it locked in on one pass) to balance myself better. If it rains or is wet, stuff like this is a real mess. Bike gets covered in mud as do the riders. I will not be racing in very wet conditions. I can barely stay on my bike on the dry, let along if it is like ice!! Yes the guy on the bike behind me was about to lap me. I hate him:)

My finish. Amazed I could no hands it on this bike, while going uphill completely exhausted. I lived to tell about it.

Many props to Bec for the great picts!!!

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