These days anyone planning to race State or Nationals is struggling to find daylight for training and races to hone their fitness and skills. The weekend of November 17 & 18 eastern Iowa types have several choices. There are state championships in Omaha, Nebraska and Minneapolis, Minnesota, but closer still are Valley Cross in West Des Moines and Pheasant Run Resort CX in Chicago.
Valley Cross, West Des Moines
Valley Cross, Saturday at the permanent cyclocross course at the Valley Community Center in West Des Moines, is your last chance to race in Iowa before the State Championship December 1. Now in its third year of hosting races, the event's organizers are working to make the course better than ever.
"The course has had a face lift. Now it’s as smooth as blacktop," said U-ME COMPETE's Jeff Osborn. "The course layout is pretty much the same, maybe a couple of changes from last year. If it’s dry, it will be very fast."
The course is fast with sweeping turns, a berm with off-camber sections, a steep hill run up, and a fast 1/2 mile section around the Global Greens Farm. "Last year we donated $500 to Global Greens Farm, with a good turnout we hope to do the same again this year."
Registration will be at the Valley Community Center, which also means indoor plumbing and a warm place to hang out -- important details this time of year. The total purse for Valley Cross is $1,960, with equal payout of $600 to the men’s and women’s top races. This year there will be cash payouts to all categories except juniors, who will win prizes.
Valley Cross is just under two hours of driving from Iowa City, and just over from Cedar Rapids. Not quite twice as far away (3-3:30 hours), but with two days of cross racing, is Pheasant Run Resort CX in Chicago, stops 10 & 11 of the Chicago Cross Cup.
Pheasant Run Resort CX, Chicago
"The course was really fun last year," said Rule #5's Jim Cochran, "There were some long fast straights, tricky off-camber turns, a few barriers, and a tough muddy run along a flat section. Throw in and an off-camber section that if you messed up you could slide into a nearly frozen pond and you have a good time."
2018 is only the second year for Pheasant Run, but it's part of a long tradition of a late season two-day race in Chicago. For years Indian Lakes Resort CX offered top level cyclocross at a posh venue, and riding from hotel lobby to starting grid proved almost as popular as a weekend with cyclocross friends and family. When Indian Lakes was no longer available the South Chicago Wheelmen moved their race weekend ten miles down the road to Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois.
"It's fun to get over to Chicago at least once a season," said Cochran. "You can usually grab a hotel for around $100, have two good days of racing, race some new people in bigger fields, and explore some new restaurants." Is it worth the long drive? He thinks so: "It's only about 3 hrs 15 minutes and I'm heading to Le Mars (5 hrs)!
"The race announcers usually do a nice job with shout outs to Iowa riders, and the fans are fun too," said Cochran. It was super cold and muddy last year. I think I came the closest I ever have to crying after a CX race as my fingers regained feeling!"
Hopefully it won't be quite that cold this year. But even if it is, expect 500+ racers to line up at Pheasant Run Resort. Discounted rooms are just $92/night (630-584-6300, code "cyclocross").
If you have yet to commit to racing the Cyclocross National Championships next month in Louisville, Kentucky, now might be a good time. Early registration ends Friday night, after which the price goes up by around 30%. Besides, with just five weeks to go, it's time to tweak and hone your training and to make some arrangements for housing.
This year's second Cyclocross Championship, "18.2" marks the event's return to December. For several years USAC scheduled Nat's for January, when national championships happen in Europe. But in the colder climates of the northern United States that made for sparse schedules leading up to the event and lower attendance as a result. The first CX Championship of 2018 was January 9-14 in Reno, Nevada. 18.2 will be December 11-16.
Lucky for us, Nationals this time around is in Louisville, Kentucky, an easy 7+ hour drive from eastern Iowa. Many of us visited Louisville for Masters Worlds and the UCI's World Championship in 2013. But Nat's this year isn't at Eva Bandman Park & Cyclocross Venue, the permanent cyclocross course right on the Ohio River. Instead it will be a few miles south in Joe Creason Park, home of last year's Derby City Cup and the 2017 Pan American Cyclocross Championship.
We won't race the exact same course this year, but videos from last year's races can give us some idea of what Joe Creason Park has in store for us.
Come for a race or two, stay for the week. Louisville is a beautiful city with tons of stuff to do. Sadly, the Mega Cavern Bike Park is closed for the season, but you'll find plenty of other ways to keep busy. Score an Airbnb in the Highlands or Germantown neighborhoods and you'll be within biking distance of both the race venue and downtown Louisville.
Five weeks is too far out to predict weather, but on average Louisville is 11-12˚ F warmer than eastern Iowa in December, with an average high in the mid-40s, and an average low hovering right around freezing. With twice the chance for rain -- eight days a month to our four -- Louisville seems the perfect spot for Cyclocross Nationals.
Six more weeks of racing are on offer in eastern Iowa's 2018 cyclocross season. Adding to the challenges of shorter days and falling temperatures, cyclocross races are getting fewer and farther between. Dust off your trainer, pack your warmest kit, and read up. You have choices to make, and travelling to do.
There are some great options for racing next weekend, November 10 & 11. Frosty Cross, the last stop in the Iowa Cyclocross Series, offers two days of racing in Le Mars, Iowa. Alternately, Saturday is the Sun Prairie Cup near Madison, Wisconsin and Sunday the Chicago Cross Cup continues with Wheeling Heritage Park CX.
Did I mention travelling? From Iowa City that's nine hours of driving round trip to Le Mars, six and a half to and from Sun Prairie, just over seven round trip to Wheeling, or a total of nine hours to do both Sun Prairie and Chicago. If you want to race and you're willing to travel, this could be a tough decision.
"Frosty Cross was a lot of fun, I was able to get a couple podiums, and I will definitely go back again this year," said Trevor Roose, Iowa City Cycling Club. "Le Mars is a ways a from Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, but Frosty has a lot to offer. It's a fairly flat course, but includes a great little uphill and downhill that's slightly off-camber, a flyover, a sandpit, stairs, barriers, and it's all linked with plenty of power straight-aways."
Seamus O'Connor-Walker (Ames Velo) agreed: "I did Frosty last year because I was trying to do as many races as possible and it looked fun from pictures I saw online. It ended up being even better than I thought, so I'll definitely head back this year.
"There was a fun little descent and ride in the woods with different lines to choose from, lots of fast fun turns as well as some technical sections, and some nice elevation change which included a run/ride up choice. Last year I would have put Frosty second only to Jingle in terms of my favorite courses. I'm pumped to see what it's like this year."
Regardless of such high praise, Frosty's organizers keep working to improve their event. "The course will be a little different this year," said Ian Richards of Bike Central. "We've added more sand sections and modified the big staircase run up. And we're proud to offer equal payouts for men and women."
Frosty Cross draws plenty of talent from South Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota, yet maintains a friendly, almost cozy atmosphere. "We have a food truck and wood-fired pizza on site, and even free beer. For the last several years, we've invited everyone down to the shop (Bike Central) on Saturday night for a little after party and it's been a lot of fun, so we'd encourage everyone to come hang out with us."
"The Sun Prairie Cup is a super fun race," said Greg Ferguson (Trek Midwest Team), "with lots of little elevation changes and tough off cambers. A fan favorite for sure, especially up on the sledding hill."
"I would describe the course as flowy, said Race Director Travis Goodlund of Brazen Dropouts. "It does have quite a bit of climbing each lap and a lot of off camber. It is all on grass or black top."
The course has been voted one of the favorites in the Wisconsin series. "The cool thing about the Sun Prairie Cup is that it is centered around a sledding hill," explained Goodlund. "From the top we have a cheering/heckling location where you can see most of the course. The sledding hill is where our run up is located and is also the basis for Bobsled Run, our flowy down hill section. "
The Sun Prairie Cup is just ten miles north east of Madison and part of the Wisconsin CX Series, meaning it's bound to be fun on several levels. The competition is mostly local, but worth jumping into, especially if you've already faced off against the Wisconsin crowd at Jingle or Trek. Like the Iowa series, Wisconsin also includes a women masters category, a feature oddly missing from the Chicago Cross Cup.
Wheeling Heritage CX - CCC #8
2018 is only the second year for Wheeling Heritage Park CX, as the new venue replaced Melas Basin CX just last year. All reports from 2017 are of a very tough course, but then temps were low and the park was quite muddy. Still, we're confident Northbrook Cycling Club will get it done right, as these folks have been presenting races since the Chicago Cross Cup began in 2004.
According to Race Director Robert Paetsch, "This unique property is flat on the north side and rolling on the south. The course is 95% grass. Last year Mother Nature poured rain the day before and then the temperatures dropped below freezing. This year, seven days out, the rain is happening now and then we'll have temperatures back below freezing for race weekend. It looks like much of the same as last year: cold and muddy.
"We are running clockwise this year instead of anti-clockwise. Flat on one side with an off-camber connection to a hilly side. About 500 yards of pavement leading to a hilltop finish." Chicago Cross Cup races tend to feature wide open, power courses. Attendance is generally huge, but folks are surprisingly inviting.
The Chicago Cross Cup posts pics, videos, and comments:
"Check around the blog and make a mini family vacation out of it. It is a festive atmosphere in any temperature and fun for the whole family."
So several options for racing next weekend. How do you choose? If you're competitive in the Iowa Cyclocross Series, the answer is obvious: Frosty Cross is the last stop in the series, your last chance to conquer your category. If not, family proximity or travel times might allow a preference, or even the weather forecast. And though the competition can be fierce at Frosty, shear numbers favor the Madison and Chicago races: last year Frosty averaged just under 100 for each of its two days, while Sun Prairie drew 250 racers, and Wheeling -- on a cold, muddy day -- drew well over 500.
The big point, then, is that cyclocross hasn't stopped, the races are just a bit further away. Is it worth it? That's up to you to decide, of course, but with only four weeks 'til state and less than six until nationals, you'd better decide quick.
Plans don't always work the way we expect them to, but somehow they do work out in the end. After its debut as a two-day race in 2017, Creekside ReUnion was reduced to one day of racing and Goosetown Racing Club planned to share the weekend with local favorite Bobbers Cross. But months later, after Bobbers was cancelled due to flooding, newcomer Corridor Devo Junior Cycling Team stepped up to help bring a second day of racing to Coralville Creekside Cross this coming weekend, November 3 & 4.
Goosetown Racing Club's Nick Sobicinski is acting as Race Director for both days. "Through my role at Geoff's Bike & Ski I had also been essentially serving as the Race Director for Bobbers Cross as well so it was relatively easy to facilitate once I knew I had adequate assistance to do it."
Saturday's race will still be sponsored by ReUnion Brewery and presented by Goosetown Cycling Club. "The second day at Creekside was a last minute decision after we learned that Bobbers would be cancelled due to flooding at Scales Pointe campground. As soon as that cancellation was announced people reached out asking for a second day of racing at Creekside Park. When I got a commitment from the Cooridor Devo we decided to go ahead with it."
Corridor Devo helps save the day
"With Bobbers cancelled, we said we'd like to have two days of racing -- why not make Creekside two days?" said Cooridor Devo's Ryan Jacobsen. "The juniors will help set up the course and work on race day. We asked the kids what they would like to see with some of the course features so they can really feel some ownership." Proceeds from Sunday's race will go to the Cooridor Devo team, helping them expand their efforts. Proceeds from Saturday will go to the Iowa City Cyclocross Club, the volunteer group that helps the City of Coralville manage Coralville Creekside Cross, a permanent cyclocross course.
Corridor Devo are hardly strangers to Creekside. Many of the juniors raced there last year or in September at the Midweek Mayhem, and the team uses the course for practices. "We hold practices out there every other week," said Jacobsen. "We practice odd weeks in Cedar Rapids, even weeks in Coralville." While presenting a race wasn't originally part of Corridor Devo's plan, "We want to support the local race community."
"About a year ago we set a goal of starting a team of ten kids. Now we have close to twenty. The kids are having fun. The families are part of the team. It's been a real sense of community, getting the team started. And this is just the beginning."
Ryan's daughter Jocelyn has already done 12 cyclocross races this year. "It's going great. It's a lot of fun. We do practices and we got our kits." The best part? "We have a lot of people who support us."
A weekend of racing
Coralville Creekside Cross is spread across 30 acres alongside a softball field of the same name. Last year the race weekend there featured nearly 200 feet of climbing each lap in either direction. This year the races will be clockwise both days, but otherwise will be very different Saturday and Sunday.
According to Sobicinski, "Creekside offers so many opportunities and options but also has some limitations due to the length and grade of the course. Expect something similar to the course used for the Midweek Mayhem race -- clockwise around the course, dropping down the hill, over the bridge, and up to the barnyards. The course will navigate the hillside and barnyards differently each day. The serpentine ditch will be in on Saturday. For Sunday's race we'll try to minimize really long climbs by traversing the hillside more."
"We have a great schedule for the weekend that will keep the races moving and exciting for both riders and spectators throughout the day." Saturday races start at 11am and include a kids race at 12:45, with the final race of the day concluding at 3:30pm. Sunday races start at 10am but will not include a kids race, with the last race of the day finishing at 3pm.
"It is possible that Bobbers and Creekside will be paired up again," explained Sobicinski. "Pairing up two very different courses within Johnson County was a big reason Creekside went to one day; I was excited by the opportunity to offer a unique race weekend showcasing things happening in the area beyond Jingle Cross."
Bobbers Cross can be a challenge to schedule around Iowa football, meaning that the event bounces to a different weekend each year. "Geoff's has always put on Bobbers and the venue really makes that event special. Bobbers will return next year. We will work with the folks at the campground to determine the best date for the race. As always the big moving piece will be Jingle Cross and how and when it happens in 2019."
Coralville Creekside Cross, nestled between I-80 and I-380 in the western part of the Iowa City area, is 30 minutes from Cedar Rapids, 90 from Cedar Falls, and just 100 minutes from Des Moines.
Pack your waders, folks, 'cause it looks like rain.
Spooky Cross has been scaring Iowa bike racers for over a decade now. First in Cumming, then in Urbandale, most recently in Altoona. The location has changed but the formula has remained the same: frightful speed, fierce competition, spooky costumes, and fun.
Again this year Spooky has found a new home, and it might be its best venue yet. Race director Justin Guiter (Zealous Racing) explained, "We have a new venue from years past. The new course has more of a mix of terrain than what we used to have. It is on the side of a hill along a creek, so it offers more elevation, too. There are opportunities for run ups we haven't had in the past. And there are off-camber sections that will challenge your handling skills wet or dry. We've also sprinkled in some fast flat sections for recovery or to open up the stable and let the horses run."
Kerrie Bernstein (Zealous Racing) got to ride the course while checking out the new prospect. "The new course is more challenging technically. It's a super fun and fast ride, but if it's muddy be prepared to run and carry your bike.
"There is a steep run up that could be crazy if it rains. And the off camber section is tough; there is a chance you could slip down into the creek that runs along side it." (Guiter assures us that "we have nylon fencing along that section so – hopefully – no one makes it into the creek." But we'll see...)
The new venue at the Altoona Campus (similar to a YMCA) is just southwest of the Altoona Aquatic Center where the race has been held most recently. According to Guiter, "It's different than [the Aquatic Center] as there we had a small area we were trying to get as creative as possible with, whereas this has a lot of potential to do whatever we want to in the future. In the past we did a good job of adding small sections each year and building on our success from previous courses. At the new venue we hope to still have some of our well known features and touches added to appeal to both roadies and mountain bikers.
"Unfortunately, the decision to change venues was not left to us. The City of Altoona planned to build a new City Hall/Police Station in the area we've used in recent years. We knew this day was coming, we just didn't know when. We found out by riding to the course the week prior to our scheduled course work day; there were construction stakes in the ground labeling where to grade and such. The next Monday ground was broke and we were officially without a venue.
"Altoona has been incredibly supportive of bike racing over the years, especially cyclocross, with both Spooky Cross and the Iowa State Cyclocross Championships only about two miles away. The city worked with us and gave us some options. After a few email exchanges and off-road excursions by foot, bike, and truck, we landed on this new venue as a good fit with a lot of potential, possibly more potential than our previous venue. Again, the City was very supportive of what we presented to them for the new venue."
The course will be quite different Saturday and Sunday "to keep you on your toes." Some parts will run in reverse but new sections will be added to give the two days a very different feel. "There are opportunities for different run-up's for each course, but those are still to be determined. At this point, one course seems a little easier and faster than the other, but I'll let you be the judge of which is which."
Saturday will include the 2-lap costume race again this year, explained Guiter. "That seemed to be a hit last year and will hopefully have another good turnout this year. The course will be condensed from the full Saturday lap to make it more fun for those that have a more ... uncomfortable costume. We're also looking at adding a kid's course that would consist of a small taped off course at the venue for those little ones that are running balance bikes." Juniors and youths race for free both days.
"Parking may be confusing as the meat and potatoes of the course are on the southside of the Altoona Campus," according to Guiter. "Parking will be available at a bar, the Brewhouse No. 25, about 100 yards from the venue, a Church with a large parking lot, and the Altoona Campus. We'll post signs, but it may still be a bit of a challenge as it is a new venue and parking is not in plain site like our old venue."
Spooky Cross' catchet and proximity to Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas promise a level of competition not seen in eastern Iowa aside from Jingle Cross. Its new home at the Altoona Campus is under two hours from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. And remember, Zealous Racing's scary weekend of cyclocross benefits JDRF.
Saturday morning the Altoona Fire Department will host an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. At the venue itself food will be available both days from Big Acai Bowls and Willie's BBQ.
This weekend is the second edition of BIKEIOWA's two-day race at Des Moine's Sands Volleyball Club. Last year's premiere of The Grand drew over 170 racers, at least that many spectators, and some truly world class hecklers. For year two BIKEIOWA warns us to expect the unexpected.
In 2017 mother nature dumped an inch of rain on the course just after the races Saturday. The first races Sunday started out a little sloppy, but the sandy ground tacked up nicely for the rest of the day. This year Sands has seen it's share of flooding -- it was completely under water in July -- but with a dry week in the forecast the course is good to go.
Amenities include indoor restrooms, outdoor showers, bike wash, parking, seating, and heated tents/overhangs. Sands is right on the bike trail and close to a bike shop, but it's NOT dog friendly, so leave Doggo at home this weekend.
Food trucks this year will include:
Last year the course was about 1.7 miles long and included some long power sections and a mix of tight and twisty turns in the woods. Des Moines' central location and BIKEIOWA's reputation for throwing a good party helped draw racers from Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, of course, but also from Utah, Connecticut, Washington, Texas, and Mississippi. The level of competition did not disappoint.
In 2016, the first year of Twisted Cross, the Cedar Falls cyclocross race was the same day as Trek's CX Cup in Wisconsin. Not wanting to repeat that conflict again, last year organizers settled for mid-November, but a cold snap brought challenges of its own -- the races were fun, of course, but making a day of it was less inviting.
This year Twisted Spokes secured a sweet new weekend for their two-day cx event, a month earlier on the calendar, on October 13 and 14. What could possibly go wrong? Flooding, that's what. Heavy rains in mid-September put Tondro Pray Bike Park, home to Twisted Cross, completely under water. But despite that and recent threats of even more flooding, the race will go on.
"We've redesigned the course at Tondro Pray and it looks like a million dollars," said Race Director Joel Mason. "New sections, new features, no pinwheel, and a design that should stand up to even more rain. Flood recovery has gone extremely well thanks to an army of volunteers and city employees." Twisted Cross is on -- get up to Cedar Falls this weekend!
There's More to Come
The last few days waiting to hear of Twisted Cross' fate have been a bit meloncholy. By now the biggest spectacles of the year, Trek and Jingle Cross, are but fading memories. On top of that the cancellation of Bobbers (flooding) and the threat to Twisted made it feel like 'cross season is nearly over. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Cyclocross season is what you make of it, of course. Roadies might be content to extend their season a race or two in September. Fair-weather 'crossers will go on for a while longer ... depending. But if you love cyclocross there's no reason not to race through State in early December or even Nationals a couple weeks later. That means your season isn't half over.
Over two months of racing are yet to come after Twisted this weekend. Back to back weekends in Des Moines (The Grand and Spooky), then one day of racing at Coralville Creekside Cross. After that you might have to get creative -- Fulton Star Cross in Minneapolis, maybe? Or if Frosty Cross is too far maybe a Chicago Cross Cup race or two?
It's entirely possible that other Iowa races will surface before State December 1 (Valley Cross, anyone?). If not, though, there are plenty of alternatives in neighboring states. Then after State there's the Midwest Championship in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, just days before the beginning of Nationals December 11-16 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Days get shorter. Temperatures fall. Mud gives way to snow. We have plenty of cyclocross yet to come. Are you ready to race?
Practice races like the Chamois Time CX race last week and the Creekside Midweek Mayhem this Thursday show how low-key, grass roots events can turn out 'cross racers both new and long in the tooth. This weekend and the one after, though, will showcase the other extreme of the cyclocross spectrum as World Cup cyclocross returns to Trek CX Cup in Waterloo, WI and Jingle Cross here in Iowa City, IA.
It's like a bit of European cyclocross in our own back yards -- instead of the participatory sport we know and love, for these two weekends cyclocross is transformed by the spectacle of the very best in the world. There are only nine World Cup races in the 2018-19 season. The first two are here in Waterloo and Iowa City. The best in the world will race here. Watch in awe.
In their own ways both Trek and Jingle Cross are changing the sport. Jaws dropped last year when Jingle Cross, a volunteer effort at Iowa City's Johnson County Fairground, was voted the best World Cup race in the series. The race's focus on fun and commitment to 'cross racing for everyone has won over fans for years -- just ask crowd favorite Helen Wyman.
Both of these races depend heavily on volunteers to make their magic happen. Whether setting up the course, working registration, or serving as crossing guards, anyone can help and have fun doing it. If you're able, consider volunteering before during or after the Trek CX Cup or Jingle Cross.
Unlike their European counterparts, Trek CXCup and Jingle Cross have both maintained healthy schedules of amateur racing alongside their elite and World Cup events. This year Jingle Cross has even returned to its roots with three full days of racing for every amateur category. That means there are races there for you, whatever your age or skill level. Cheer, help, and race!
By now BIKEIOWA has an idea of the course they'll stake out in Des Moine's Stone Park. Some features will be very familiar -- for example, those pine trees that slap your face every lap -- some features might be totally new. Guaranteed, though, line up at Capital City Cross Saturday and you'll find artifacts of races past, ruts in parts of the park we aren't even using, lines etched into the oddest spots.
This Saturday will be more than a practice race. When the lap cards, sponsor banners, and port-o-pottys appear you know the race is on. And when racers from Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, and across Iowa hear "Capital City Cross" they know where they'll want to be.
Register at USACycling, check for the latest at BIKEIOWA, or get nostalgic with our blog from 2017, Capital City Cross is Back. If you can make a weekend of it, check out Relaycross Sunday afternoon.
Relaycross in support of the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
Relaycross is simple: 2 hours of racing with 4 teammates tagging in and out to pile on as many laps as possible before time runs out. The team with the most laps wins.
The race takes place at Mullets, former home of the beloved Oakley Night Cap and long time sponsor of BIKEIOWA. Relaycross is as serious or leisurely as you want. You can race all out or at a conversational pace. It's all for a good cause.
"Payouts? Yep. High fives, pride and good karma to everyone that enters.
"Pre registration and online fees? Nope! Day of only.
"Do I need a license you ask? Hell no! This is a charity race people. So please grab your donations and join us on September 16th at Mullets. Registration opens at 12:00pm and closes at 1:00pm."
This year Relaycross will be racing for the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry.
The Urban Bicycle Food Ministry is a grass-roots non-profit organization that feeds the homeless in Des Moines. Check out Relaycross at BIKEIOWA.
by Tara Coady
Sooo, I thought I'd do a race report from this weekend now.
I raced at Cannonball CX this weekend for the first time. The race has been going on for the last couple of years, but I was recovering from breast cancer surgery the first year, and I had a bad cold last year. Then this year, I finally got to race it. Yea!
It was a little muddy when we first got there, and I am a big scaredy cat, so there were several things I was afraid to ride. I pre-rode the course a few times and found the guts to ride a couple of the things I was initially afraid of, but not all.
There was a great group of women riders, with some strong talent from Minneapolis. There were also a lot of new Spin Devo women who were fun and strong too.
Now, I'm going to talk about the things I love about CX. Because, let's face it, I am never going to win the Cyclocross Olympics, or very many races at all for that matter. So people have asked me why I do it? Cannonball CX was a prime example of why I race cyclocross.
Like I said before, I am, as John likes to say, an overly cautious old woman. I have to fight myself again and again to get up the courage to do certain things. Riding down steep hills in muddy conditions is one of those things.
When I first rode the course, I was terrified to ride down the big, muddy hill. Every time after that on my pre-ride, I would think I could do it, and I would stare and stare down from the top of it for what seemed like three hours before I finally wussed-out and walked/slid down it with my bike in hand.
I started out the race okay and passed a couple of people before I got to said big hill, which I walked down. I was the only woman in the whole filed who walked down it. And because I walked it, everyone passed me and I was in last place of ALL the categories of women. I decided right then that if every other woman could ride down that hill, then I could too.
So, when I got to it on the next lap, I took a deep breath, sucked down my "what-ifs," and rode down it. Holy cow! It was so easy. Seriously. No problem at all. Derrrrr.
Then I spent the rest of the race trying to catch the other women. I passed some and the rest of them were way ahead of me. I even got lapped by a couple of them too. Which is fine by me, because it makes my race shorter and I am still in pretty crappy shape.
Toward the end of the race, I took a $2 bill hand-up, put it between my teeth, and came into the finish looking classy as hell...Or whatever.
I get so many things by riding cyclocross. I'm not winning many races, but I am conquering my fears, and taking myself out of my comfort zone, and meeting really fun people, and playing outside, and most importantly, I'm finding that I'm able to ignore (at least some of the) voices in my head that scream "I can't" at me.
It's also a double bonus that I have a partner/husband who likes to ride bikes in the mud as much as I do.
So, after FINALLY getting to race Cannonball CX, I rate it a raging success for me...By my rules anyway.
Reprinted from Tara's blog, Churlish Figure.