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We are well into the cyclocross season here in the US, and after missing most of last season (because I was frolicking in the sunshine in the Southern Hemisphere) I am falling in love with ‘cross all over again. All those friendly familiar faces, the hand-ups and shenanigans, the different terrain, the sloppy mudfests that make you feel like a kid again, and the hard workout you get –should you choose to go hard. It is all this that keeps me coming back weekend after weekend.
It’s silly, fun and not intimidating yet it can also be a huge challenge. It’s simply one of those sports you can make whatever you want it to be. And it’s, in my opinion, the gateway to getting more people into bike racing.
If you’ve ever considered racing, ‘cross is a great way to start. It’s somewhere between 35 and 60 minutes of racing in a setting that’s away from traffic and where you can’t get dropped because you’re doing circles.
If you’ve never considered pinning on a number to compete, but you like bikes and also enjoy the tough mudder or obstacle course running events, what are you waiting for? You’d love it.
Or if you just like to spend the day in a park with your family on bikes, again, ‘cross is the perfect venue. Many events feature categories for all ages and abilities, encouraging everyone from 3-year-olds on scoot bikes to the 45+ beginner to race against their peers.
On board yet? Excellent! Read our Beginner’s Guide to Preparing for a Cyclocross Race here.
And to prepare you for what happens during a race, here are some of the thoughts that you may have running through your mind during that first event … and some that you will continue to have race after race.
Thoughts you’re going to have during a cyclocross event
As you line up:
The pep talk: OK. Let’s do this. It’s just 35 minutes. You got this!
Scoping out the competition: Oh wow, she looks fast. Well, I’m going to at least do better than her…right? Wait, what? We have to race at the same time as those men?! Are they really wearing a tutu/leotard/bathing suit?!
Looking to the sideline for the person who talked you into this: Hi person who talked me in to this. Yes, I am smiling and waving at you because I want you to think I am brave but really I am completely and utterly terrified. That smile is totally fake and I really don’t like you that much right now.
At different times during the race:
Oh god, oh god, what am I doing?
This speed has got to let up, right?
A barrier, OK, here we go. You can do this. Just like we practised. Unclip and…YES! You did it. Woot. Look at you, you’re practically a pro! Now how to get back on…
It’s OK, no one saw that. Just keep going.
Right, no one can see me here. Time to back off and catch my breath before I hit the crowded hill.
Wait, I just got back on the bike now I have to get off again?!
Oof, when did this bike get so heavy?
That’s going to leave a bruise. Oops, so is that.
How did she just ride that?!
Oh, I am totally in the way. Sorry!!!
Hey, this is actually kind of fun.
Nope, this is hard! Really, really hard. Please break bike, give me an excuse to stop.
Wait, that was only 10 minutes?
Ugh, it’s so wet, muddy, sandy…I am going to have so much laundry after this.
How is this a sport? There are adults who get paid to do this?
Please lap me. Please lap me. Put me out of my misery.
OK, look athletic. You got this. One more lap.
Hi person who made me do this. Yep, thumbs up, I’m so glad you’re enjoying watching me do this.
I just totally passed a dude. Go me!
Is it time to stop and have a beer yet?
Am I last? Wait, am I winning?!
Do I have a flat? Surely I have a flat…
Hey, maybe I don’t totally suck at this!
Oh yes, the finish. I am done. Thank god, I’m done.
Five minutes after the race
That was sooo fun! When can I do it again?!