Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cyclocross So Far

Once my road season came to a close with Cherry Roubaix, there seemed to be an empty spot in my life. No more races to look forward to, no extensive planning to do every week or so to do just so I can go away and race my bike. School started and time became something I felt like I had to ask for, though we all know you can't create time. Matt planted a seed long ago of racing cyclocross, and although I was glad to have my season wound down, I missed racing. After deciding to race 'cross for Matt I was determined to have fun first and if results came with it then it's a bonus. That seed that Matt planted grew and I finally am finding a groove out on the CX bike.

I had a rough start to the season, my first race being a Wednesday night race in Houghton in between studying and sleeping. I fueled myself up with coffee that afternoon and pumped out a solid second place. I'd say that got me excited and thinking, "hey, maybe I can do this and be successful too." Not to mention I did this on my single-speed commuter bike (Specialized Tricross)which is nothing extravagant. I knew when I came home for races I would have a beautiful Titanium Sisu ride that was decked out for cyclocross specifically and would hopefully be the ticket to even more success.

My first experience in a REAL DEAL 'cross race was at Al Quaal. This used to be one of my favorite places to ride bikes when I was younger and was my favorite cross country course in High School when I ran. Those combined had me pretty excited to go back and put the two skills in a blender and see what kind of crazy concoction came out. The course was brutal, including everything that a good cross course should. There was sand, mud, singletrack, more sand, fast decents, pavement, crazy taped off sections you have to weave through, and of course the barriers. I had crappy pedals on my bike that were hard to get out of and eventually the pedals and the barriers caused one heck of a crash that has already been posted and highlighted in the video from Al Quaal. It is definitely in the books as one of my most impressive crashes for the season. Not proud, but it made for a good laugh.

My 'cross season hasn't been the smoothest. I like to joke that it's not a good day unless I go home bleeding. Up until today that was the case. I won't go on describing every crash I've had, but I now have just as many scars from the 'cross bike as I did from the road bike this year, actually I think it's more after this weekend. Anyways, as I said, it's been a rough ride.

Today was my breakthrough though. The Tylers were present to dish out their dose of punishment and for the first time in my UPCROSS history I was able to hang with the main group for more than just one lap. I maintained contact for about 3-4 laps before finally succumbing to my own frustrations after almost biffing, but making a good weight readjustment and somehow saving myself from my usual demise on an unsuspectingly easy corner. After I calmed myself down from this scare, I found a rhythm using my criterium skills on the pavement golf cart paths and pounding out the gravel and dirt paths. With six laps to go I was in a groove, everything was flying by, I was focused and I felt great, finally. This only fueled that groove even more because I was so happy to finally feel good on the 'cross bike. Even though I knew it was too late I pushed hard and passed those that I could and used it as practice and encouragement to do better next time.

I have to admit that I'm getting a bit tired as road season is definitely over and as 'cross season winds down I'm looking forward to a little time off before the snow starts flying and the skis need waxing and good use. After UPCROSS championships I will be taking 3-4 weeks off from any heavy training and will begin to start my winter lifting regimen slowly before getting on the skis and the indoor trainer. I'll hopefully have even better news by the end of the season, but until then I've got an exam to study for and a bed to sleep in. Stay posted!

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