Written by Guest Rider Ayesha McGowan
I did it. After 3 years of excuses, I put on my big girl kit and raced cyclocross. It was both as fun and as awful as I thought it would be.
Here's how it went:
The night before the race it was pouring. I was certain it was going to be muddy. I'm not afraid of getting dirty, but mud seemed intimidating. Lucky for me it was just cold, not muddy! Woot!
We arrived to the course, I checked in, got my numbers, and ran back to the car. Will pinned me and I mustered the courage to go pre-ride the course. My god did that suck. My garmin gave me a "Freeze Warning" alert, my legs were heavy, I was panting, my heart rate was accelerated. I'm not sure if I was just cold and tired, or nervous. Either way, I was looking forward to a nice long warmup. There was no way I was going to survive otherwise.
I rolled around parking lot. It was a perfect prep ground made of, gravel, dirt, and grass. The venue was really cute, I'm sure they use it for farm weddings and other events going for a "rustic" theme.
I was so thankful for my Castelli fleece lined skinsuit and leg warmers. I would've been complaining way more without them. (Yes, I HATE THE COLD AND WILL KEEP REMINDING ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN).
It was nearing race time and I couldn't manage to find the start. I went to what looked like the start, but it was the finish. After a bit of wandering, I found everyone lining up, and lined myself up in the back. I knew this wasn't a good place to be, but it was my own fault for not knowing where the race was starting. What a rookie.
They let the cat5 men set of 30 seconds ahead of us. Then they released us onto the course. I scooted behind the field waiting for an opportunity to go around. The folks in front of me were having a bit of trouble navigating a technical section. As soon as that was done, I made my move on the first batch of folks.
Lucky for me this course was designed by a bunch of track racers, so it was a really good first cx experience. Minimal technical sections, 2 barriers, and mostly power climbs. I eventually made my way into second place but couldn't spot whoever was in first. The race was only 30 minutes, so she did great by getting out in front in a good spot and forming a solid lead from the gun. (Taking notes for next time).
On the last lap I as I was approaching the technical section just before the barriers there was a mom who saw me starting to fade a bit. I'd accepted that I was going to get second and was mentally preparing to hop off my bike one last time. She yelled to me "DON'T LET THOSE BOYS CATCH YOU!" She pointed to a small group of cat5 men. "EVEN THOUGH MY SON IS ONE OF THEM, I DON'T WANT TO GIVE HIM THE SATISFACTION." Whelp... If she didn't want to give him the satisfaction, I didn't either. I picked up the pace, clumsily hopped over the barriers, and powered my way to the finish. They gained on my a little, but the final stretch was a gradual uphill, one that could easily break your spirits in the final seconds of a race. I didn't have cx skills but I had enough fitness to hold them off! Call me petty, but it felt nice.
Second place! I'll take it! I didn't fall, I didn't die, I hopped over the things, and I wasn't last. Not a bad first CX race at all.
Do I love CX now? LORD NO. We'll see how the next three races go, either I'll grow to like it more, or I'll stick to road and maybe try my hand at some gravel stuff. I really dislike getting off of my bike, also running is the worst.