Monday, September 22, 2008

I Did It!

Despite having serious misgivings (my bike is too big for me, I can't deftly execute a cyclocross flying mount, I will certainly be DFL and I may throw up), I decided to compete in my first cyclocross race yesterday.

The Mammoth 'Cross race was being held less than a mile from our house. It was a sunny autumn day, with no wind and the course promised to be dry. In other words, it was a perfect opportunity to give cyclocross a try. None of those factors eased my nerves.

The Senior Women's categories were racing at 215 pm. I left the house about 1215 and rode over to the race venue. Thank goodness I got there early and registered before most of the other women racers showed up. I might have been too intimidated to register if I'd seen the other riders in the field. There were at least 50 women (from Category 1 – Category 4 and 35+) at the start. Less than 10 of us were not wearing full team kits (meaning we were "unaffiliated" – a nice way to say too slow to be on a team).

I decided I was okay with being DFL (since this is a family blog, let's say that stands for Dead Flat Last). I wanted to have the experience of racing to see if it is something I'd like to do more of – or whether my 'cross bike is going to be used strictly for commuting from here on out.

I positioned myself at the back of the start pack and let everyone get out ahead of me – that gave me the chance to watch the other racers and see how they maneuvered through the course and around the barriers. It also meant I was less likely to inadvertently ruin someone else's race by doing something stupid, accidentally cutting them off.

It was a hoot!! Hard, certainly.

I felt like I might throw up during the first lap. But as I got warmed up and more comfortable, I really enjoyed the course and riding my bike. Definitely like cruising around out in the hills and fields behind our house when I was a kid.

I did get lapped by the eventual winners, but I expected that and they were encouraging as they rode by.

I ended up being third from last. My lack of skill was a problem, but my fitness allowed me to hang on. The race was 45 minutes long; if it had been 60 minutes I think I could have picked off 3 or 4 more racers who were starting to fade. Figuring out the pacing for a 45 minute event is odd since we typically do long endurance events. I need to work on that if I hope to improve my placing in future races.

Phil couldn't race because he is recovering from a nasty sprained ankle, so he took photos and yelled encouragement. It was great to have a friendly face in the crowd.

I think I'll try it again; if I spend time working on the mount and dismount skills I might move up to fifth from last!


  1. 3rd from DFL or least you tried. That's a lot more than most (I) can say. Congrats! ~PD

  2. Way to go!!!!
    You have the heart of a Lion!!!

    I thought it might turn out
    ugly when you hit the
    double barrier on the first lap,
    but you really improved as you

    Love ya,

  3. Nice work Joanne!! I thought of you guys when I saw a little "cyclocross race" sign posted at the corner of 19th and Ford. Now I really wish I had followed the arrow and checked out the scene.