This past week was my first real cyclocross race of the season. There I said it. With all of the last minute traveling, work and now working on landing a new job I simply have not put as much effort as I thought I would in to cyclocross this fall.
The race was at North Meck Park in Huntersville, NC. What is super unique about this race series (other than it is on Tuesdays) is that it is at night, the first race starting at 6pm. The way it works is the course wraps around 4 different baseball and softball fields, utilizing the lights of the fields to light up the area outside of the fence. Up and down the hills, between the fields, some run ups, some barriers and always good fun but never on the ball fields!
I lined up this week with the boys. There were no girls to play with. Very sad since I know several women that would rack the season but they never show up to ride around in circles with me for 30 minutes.
While I pushed myself harder than I thought I could, I made some ride ups I didn’t think I would make and in the end I beat a few guys, barely being passed by two younger guys right before the finish.
Success is what I call it. If I race a couple more of these before the holidays, I’ll be very happy! Aspercreme was very needed after the ride…
Peeling myself out from the warm covers early Sunday morning, the light wasn’t out yet and as I stumbled my way through getting dressed. It was going to be a long day as my knee and body screamed in pain due to the prior days 5k race efforts.
Record time into the car, hitting up McDonalds for a Muffin, sausage, egg and cheese breakfast. 25 minutes later I am sitting in a Super Walmart parking long waiting for my friends and fellow EM:PWR teammates to arrive for our car pooling. Many good topics, a couple moments of daydreaming and we arrive in Spartanburg, SC finding the Va Du Mar park quickly. Chatting, dressing and registering. I probably should have warmed up more than the 30 minutes on the road that I did. During my pre-race course preview lap I dismounted tweaking my knee even further. This would sum up the next 45 minutes if you want to finish reading now.
On the start line there was 4 women and maybe 8 men. A very sad showing for the cyclocross community in South Carolina. The women’s field even had cash payouts! As I stumbled around the course, carefully getting off the bike, somewhere on the backside of the first lap I was questioning what I was doing and how much pain in every down stroke I was feeling. I finished though, slow and at least 8 minutes behind the person in front of me.
The course was fun other than the lack of pavement, and a good amount of grass riding. There is a jaunt through the woods that stumbled up some of the roadies. As the course was worked over the dirt became more and more loose. The park was gorgeous, tons of parking, and new bathrooms that were heated!
Finishing Thoughts and Goals
I need to ride my bike more. Too often I get done races and simply realize I need to ride my bike and I would be better. It isn’t the nutrition, mental, or bike, I just need time in the saddle for progress.
Questioning to continue to pay $20 a race to realize this. Maybe go to simply photograph and ride the course before I have to pay!
This past Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at o’dark 30 to prep myself and brain for my first cyclocross “clinic”. At around 7 o’clock teammate and all around awesome guy, George Berger, picked me up in his little Prius and we were off into the sunrise. The goal was to get to mountains of Boone North Carolina and the Pirate Race Products Cyclocross Clinics.
Walking into a cyclocross clinic I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have participated in cyclocross practices, and various other road/mtb clinics before but never dedicated for cyclocross.
Here are the things I did know:
The clinic was segregated for women and men. There ended up being roughly 12 women that showed up which seemed to be a decent group for learning and trying new things with two instructors.
It would be a long day. The clinic was scheduled from 10 to 4, and I knew from cyclocross practices that I would be completely worn out doing these quick burst of anaerobic effort.
There would be good food. Burrito’s from Black Cat in Boone, if you haven’t been there – go visit soon.
I had no goals. There were things I want to improve on in cyclocross this year, but a specific skill other than not hurting myself, I didn’t have one dead set in mind. Oh wait, that is a lie.I want to be able to do the “flying squirrel” remount by the end of the season. You know that one were you “hop” off the ground and gracefully slide over your saddle like a cowboy on a bareback horse? Yes that is what I want to be able to do.
Drills and practice makes perfect
For 6 hours I was taken back to high school. All the drills and random technique forming (brain numbing) things you would do, and hate, wanting to just PLAY the game you were practicing for. You didn’t want to practice sprints, side to side, crazy legs, etc.
Quickly these feelings went away and I was left really enjoying myself and fellow company. I hope to have video’s of all the things below later this week. Video editing is just not in the time early this week.
Crazy 8′s - You basically take two objects, maybe 20-50 feet apart, with a partner you circle the objects/cones/trees/phone poles in a crazy 8 fashion. Learning how to take the corners properly at speed, while at the same time making sure your partner doesn’t catch or pass you (especially in the corners.)
Hill Climbs – This is the one I avoid, I did it twice and stopped. Find a hill and run up it with your bike. At the top either walk down or hop on your bike to ride back down. We started off slowly, simply picking up our bike and walking up the hill to learn where to place the bike on our shoulders and how to use our free arm to propel ourselves up. After a few times in slow, we then would ride into the hill, dismount and “scurry” up the hill.
Dismounts – A great thing for someone getting used to hopping off the CX bikes, especially with clipless pedals. With some momentum unclip your right foot and swing it over the saddle to be behind your left foot. Simply glide in that position. Once you feel comfortable doing this, repeat but this time swing your right leg back over to and clip back in. Next step is to complete the dismount. There were two schools of thought for this, sliding your right leg between your left leg and bike, or swinging your right leg behind your left and allowing the momentum to unclick you. I don’t feel comfortable the first way, and I’m much faster with the second.
Mounting – At a walking pace work on hip rotation and in motion of your walking stride take your right leg and slide it over the saddle so you “catch” yourself on your inner thigh right below your groin. Work on getting faster and “pushing off” your left leg so you get more speed into the sliding onto the saddle. (This is the one I need to work more on.)
Starts- Try out different gearing for your start, where should you be on your seat, do you do better with your hands on the shifters or in the drops, learn your limits so that you can push them but also land in the top positions in the start of the race. It is always better to allow people to pass you than to pick off people through out the race.
Other things gained at the NC CX clinic
The drills were awesome. Having 12 women to talk about womens CX and learn their ways of doing things, was awesome. Having “hot laps” at the end, was awesome. More than anything I believe the best part was meeting 12 semi-local women that will be on the courses beside me. Having people to talk with, making new friends and hopefully helping grow the sport.
Testing out George’s new Kuat rack was also very informative, if only they came out for a hitch for my new car!
I feel more motivated and able for the season. All I need to work on is my motor and I have over a month to work on that one. Here’s to NC Cyclocross! You can find all the photos over yonder.
As a resident of the Charlotte North Carolina region I can tell you that cyclocross has been slow to pick up in the area. It seems this season is going to change all of this. More practices, more area races and more folks wanting to ride their cyclocross bikes more during a year.
Have I mentioned how excited I am about the cyclocross season that is coming up? 50% excited about the racing and 50% excited about the environment, friends and culture.
Last night was the first cyclocross “practice” of the season. It really is a reason for friend, George Berger, and I to get out to Fisher Farms with barriers and ride around in circles. Another one of our friends, Mark, showed up to crush us.
Eye Opening Fitness
It is always easier to feel fast when you ride alone, and then you ride with folks that have been consistently riding…that’s when you realize you are slow as a snail!
All I can do is put my head down and plow ahead with training and efforts. Riding with folks that have had solid seasons, and consistent riding for over a year…it isn’t fair to judge myself next to them. Hell, I need to stop judging myself.
Be proud you are out doing it, be proud to be on the bike and keep moving forward!
Today is the day I started “cyclocross training.” It should have been July 1st, but well I didn’t. August 1st is a doable time period as NC Cyclocross runs later than most parts of the country, October 22nd is the first race. What does this mean?
This means I need to stay inspired and motivated for the next 6 months, through the end of January. It also means I hope to pull my friends kicking and screaming into the scene, while meeting new friends within the scene.
This means I need to ride, I am plugging into TrainingPeaks.com and doing my best to track things. I need to finish my food intake for the day, but normally within 3-4 days things click in my head and I easily start eating healthier. Easily finding comfort in a routine.
Ride One of the Season
What a better way to start of the season than with friends? An easy 1 hour spin around the neighborhoods and along the lake shore. Not a ton of miles (not much at all) but spinning around with 3 good friends is perfect. Tomorrow I hear they are dragging me out to run, good thing it is x-train and lifting day! Now to log off and finish watching the Bacherlotte!
I’m officially getting pumped for the upcoming cyclocross season. Maybe it is delirium over the heat lately, or maybe the simple feeling of setting a goal for myself and really wanting to meet it?
Over the years I have compiled a great list of resources for inspiration, information, tips and basic outlines of creating a training plan for the season. By no means am I recommended that any of these are replacing a dedicated coach, but it will give you some structure and inspiration! Next week I’ll work on the ‘cross blogs worth your following!
Training Peaks – Tons of training plans, great coaches, and their personal workout/food/training online system is killer. With a free option, or for a small fee a year they will track all your workouts, weight, nutrition and goals with ease! (I personally use this system, and have used it for the past 4 years.)
Cycle Smart - You can’t be in the cyclocross industry without hearing Adam’s name, or see the Cycle Smart kits. Adam has been an online friend of mine for years and always an inspiration come June/July through the winter.
CX Magazine – Daily news, tips and resources for the cyclocross racer.
Bike Radar - How to fit cyclocross training into a full time job
Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!
What’s your name and location?
Sirena Lundsford, Winston-Salem NC
What type of cycling do you enjoy?
I’m happy whenever I am on my bike. Anyone who knows me knows that cyclocross is what I enjoy most. I love the people and comaraderie I have found there.
What is your first cycling memory?
Very first cycling memory would be riding down the sidewalk when I was like 4 or 5 with no training wheels. My mom was coming home from work, driving down the street cheering me along.
Who inspires you to ride, and better yet WHY?
I’m fortunate to have some really positive people in my life, most of which I have met through cycling .So, in general my friends inspire me the most. I will have to say though that Justin Bristol and Kim Bailey of Cyle-Smart Grassroots Team have been real game changers for me this year.
What has been your best moment on the bike this year?
I think the best moment on the bike this year hasn’t happened yet! I have had some really great opportunities to “work” for friends and other riders during some road races this year. Nothing feels better to me on the road than putting in a good pull for someone else.
All About My Bikes
I have one bike right now, a Ridley X-Fire that I am simply in love with.