I did it. I entered the world of dirt.
The girl with the sparkling white Specialized shoes, the attachement to skinny smooth tires, asphalt and the road, and an aversion to anything involving dirt has crossed over. And by cross, I mean, cyclocross.
Before this, I considered the bike path through Mill Valley pretty close to a single track MTB trail. Anything that wasn’t smooth as silk, was pretty trecherous. And now? I might still think that, but I am trying to reach beyond my comfort zone and enter an entirely foreign realm. A world where there are more tatoos, piercings, and steel. Carbon isn’t always fastest, and tall argyle socks are common, yet considered unique. The atmosphere is more welcoming, and the spectators anticipate the prospect for public taunting of the competitors. It is in good fun, good sport, and a great way to spend the day. There is a place for everyone and a race for everyone.
I joined the masses in a “stealth” debut a few weeks ago, and had to do it once again. I am learning and loving it. I got two solid podium spots, and think I can handle this sport. Now, I just await the bruises to start appearing tomorrow. I did learn that falling in the dirt is not near as bad as the asphalt. The dirt is much friendlier when you hit it.
Cyclo-cross is an interesting mixture of a criterium, a time trial, and some dirt. The importance of smooth handling skills becomes magnified under the pressure of an intense 45-minute effort. Being a complete “roadie,” the differences in cross is the ability to put out high power peaks while continuously getting on and off your bike to run over barriers or up stairs. Imagine doing a criterium in the dirt, and then throw some construction barriers in the middle of a hairpin turn that you have to dismount your bike to get over! It is crazy and requires a different adaptation than road racing. Yet, the high intensity efforts and bike handling drills that cyclo-cross requires is an exceptional addition to a “roadie’s” training regimen. The start of the race is just as important as any other aspect as well. What I mean is that you must explode out of the starting gates because it is difficult to gain time or pass other competitors. This chaotic start takes away the team tactics found in road racing and makes it a sprint to the first corner where eventually the race gets strung out. However, once the race gets going, no matter if you are in first or last, you feel the race all around you. It is refreshing to join the cyclo-cross community, learn a thing or two about handling the bike under different requirements, and of course, be able to laugh at yourself!
I have joined the world of cyclocross. Well, maybe not joined but at least they are letting me play with them for now. You may not see me jumping off curbs anytime soon, but I am still going to dabble in this sport for a refreshing addition to my transition from off-season to base building. If you haven’t tried cross yet, you should get out there an do it. Get a little dirty!
Also, can I say Happy Birthday to my absolutely beautiful Mom! Today is her birthday, and I got her a way too “practical” present. I think that makes me old, not her. She is amazing, and gorgeous! xo