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A beautiful brown box with a huge Raleigh logo on the side showed up this past week for review. Inside, a 2012 Raleigh RX 1.0 women’s cyclocross bike in for review. I previewed the line back in August and received a good amount of tweets and comments about the line. At $1,650 this bike could be a break through road/cross/commuter/do all women’s bike. Allowing more options and ways to get women on one well spec’d bike. I have high hopes, and the bike will be abused to see if they meet the hopes.
A clip of our Wednesday night practices for NC Cyclocross in Bradford Park in Huntersville North Carolina. Come play with us!
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.
September 11, 2011- High Country Cyclocross Clinics – Women’s and General Clinics in Boone, NC
Boone on Tuesday Nights – Alray Tire Boone Cross Series – Tell Stackhouse you found his races here!
Asheville on Wednesday Nights- Asheville Cycloccross
Charlotte on Wednesday/Sunday Nights- Join the Facebook group to learn more.
Lake Norman/Huntersville on Wednesday Nights- Email me for info
Winston Salem on Tuesday Nights- Located at SECCA, I hear they’re giving out beer coupons. Join FB for the details.
East Bend Wednesday Nights – Right in Ken’s backyard.
Endurance CX Races
September 25, 2011 – Three Peaks USA in Beech Mountain, NC
September 10- Asheville CX in Bent Creek Park
September 24- Asheville CX at TBD
October 9, 2011- Asheville CX at Pisgah Brewing
October 9, 2011- Winston Salem Cross and Waffles
October 16, 2011- 2011- Cyclocross Kick Off in Cary, NC Pre-Reg here
NCCX 2011-2012 Calendar Dates (Many TBD)
Race #1 – Sat. October 22, 2011
Race #2 – Sun. October 23, 2011 – Raleigh, NC
Race #3 – Sun. October 30, 2011 – Boone, NC
Race #4 – Sun. November 6, 2011 – Salisbury, NC
Race #5 – Sun. November 13, 2011
Night Race – Wed. November 16, 2011 (non-series) -Asheville, NC
Race #6 – Sat. November 19, 2011 -UCI-NCGP - Hendersonville, NC
Race #7 – Sun. November 20, 2011 – UCI NCGP – Hendersonville, NC
Race #8 – Sun. December 4, 2011
Race #9 – Sun. December 11, 2011 – Wilkesboro, NC
Race #10 – Sun. December 18, 2011 – Tanglewood, NC
Race #11 – Sun. January 8, 2012
Race #12 – Sat. January 21, 2012
Race #13 – Sun. January 22, 2012
Bicycling skills clinics are an interesting thought. Adults, having skills clinics in the way you would for your favorite sport as a kid. For myself I need to become confident again going into barriers, and $40 for 6 hours of someones time is a great deal. Stackhouse is limiting the field for good instructor to class size so please sign up so I have friends at the event!
North Carolina Women’s Cyclocross Clinic in Boone
Sunday September 11, 10AM to 4PM
Boone Fairgrounds, 738 Roby Green Rd, Boone, NC 28607
Two clinics at one location: our second annual Women’s’ Only CX Clinic featuring National Champion Ashley James and MSG champ Kim Bishop, and a cyclocross skills clinic for the boys led by Jacob Florence.
The Boone Fairgrounds, home of the High Country Cyclocross Series, is a great venue with agood mix of easy and challenging terrain where you can hone your skills, covered pavilions for lunch and lecture sessions, as well as ample parking. Clinics will be held at separate parts of the Fairgrounds so each group can separately practice skills including starts, cornering, barriers, run ups, and more, as well as pointers on training, nutrition, bike setup, pre-race rituals and more from National Champion Ashley James and some of the best cyclocross racers in the Southeast
Early Bird Registration is only $40 until the end of August, Pre-Registration is $50 until September 10 at Noon. Day-of registration is $65. Lunch is included.
Online Registration now open – clinics are capped at 30 participants each
USAC license (Road or MTB) is required. One day license is $5.
For Directions Click Here
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!
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.
George Berger, the first member of the new em:pwr cycling team, started riding BMX as a kid in Houston, graduated to local crits and road races, then moved into mountain bikes and triathlons before finally ending up as someone who loves ‘cross more than anything else. The problem, he says, was that each major cycling ‘era’ for him was in different decades. He says that if he’d have stuck with cycling throughout his life, he could have been as good as…well, any shortish, stoutish, strongish mid-40′s Flemish ‘cross racer. George resides in Davidson, NC with wife and daughter.
The final race of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series was held last Sunday in Bur-Mil Park in Greensboro. Arleigh and I drove over there from the Lake Norman area to race–first me in the (new to me) Masters 45+ category at 10AM, and then Arleigh at 11AM in the CX4 (remember, she’s racing a single-speed against the ‘gearies,’ folks!)
It was cold out there at 9AM or so…so we were all glad that the park had its nature center open for us, with bathrooms, tables and chairs…not to mention cool live and stuffed animal exhibits…and, around the park all sorts of cool parkie stuff. I’d definitely go back there for sure.
The races themselves were a lot of fun; the course was set by Greensboro Velo and Cycles de Oro, and technical obstacles included a couple of sand volleyball pits to ride through (icy is good in sand, by the way, because it packs down), one set of double barriers, a short, sharp two-pedal-revolution climb/90′ turn that you had to hit standing up, and a cool set of stairs that popped us up from a sharp off-camber turnto the main level of the course. Lots of sharp turns that got progressively rutted as the day went on, and some pine needle sections that you had to pay close attention to in order to not spin. Lots of reasonable up- and down-hilliness, but nothing too steep. Fun!
Welcome to Masters 45+
I raced Masters 45+ for the first time. Frankly, so long as I could stay out of the way of the faster guys (and Pro/1/2/3 women, who are almost as fast as the 45+/55+ guys), that was fine with me…and those (other) old guys are damn fast. My goal was not to crash out like last week, and to finish, which I accomplished without much incident. Not much of a goal, but still. I’m a beginner at this. It was my 4th CX race, and I think I’ve learned a lot about bike prep (see my comments from last week, when I crashed over and over due to poor tire choice made before the race), bike handling, and tactics.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself, and it’s a goal to figure out before next year: when I’m actually racing, I feel like I’m working as hard as I can, while still conserving some energy (and air) for later laps of the race. I feel like I’m pushing hard, but not hyperventilating (I did that a bit in the Winston-Salem race, and don’t want to do that again). But then, after the race, I feel almost OK pretty soon after…not like I’ve REALLY worked so hard that I’m spent. Gotta figure out how to get more energy into the race, but not be dead (body or brain-) before the last lap. It’s one thing to push yourself around in the middle of a crit peloton…you can almost always sit in the group to catch some breath. But this is different–you have to negotiate obstacles and the course pretty much by yourself, even if you’re on the wheel of someone. You have to stay sharper, and have to save some energy for the later laps.
I really wish the CX season went on longer though. I’m looking forward to doing 55nine Performance’s Southern Cross down in Georgia on February 26th, so I’ll put the road wheels on the cross bike for a while and build up some fitness…hopefully, it’ll warm up a bit.
The second race of my 2011 season was the NCCX #12 at the Wilkesboro Speedway right here in North Carolina. This race could be one of the coolest venue’s I’ve been to. Most of the course was found within the infield of the speedway and the rest was right out the back gate in a grassy field.
The Word of the Race : Mud
In North Carolina our weather is fairly mild and easy going, a few years ago in January I was racing cyclocross in short sleeves and 65º weather. The race earlier this month was the first time we had any type of weather. This race, we didn’t have any weather but instead we had thawing. Frozen ground gave way and by the time my CX4 race came around the “tractor pull” area became a slopfest. The pro’s made it look easier, but I walked slowly through the mud pit every time (maybe I should work on running in mud??)
Progress and Motivation
Dead last is better than not finishing or not starting, and ending last was atleast the motivation I needed for getting to the gym and active.
How’s your season going so far?
Photo credit : George Berger