Next week is the start of the biggest amateur cyclocross madness series on the entire planet: The Cross Crusade. Last year I started my cross season with The Crusade, but this year I thought I’d start one week early in order to blow out the cobwebs and get rid of some of the jitters. I think the cobwebs are gone now, but I think the jitters will be there next week.
Even more exciting than all that was the fact that the DS experienced her very first cyclocross race, and she totally killed it!
The day before the race was a bluebird 80 degree day. We checked the weather report and to our shock it actually predicted a tenth of an inch of rain. I didn’t mind, but I was secretly hoping for easy conditions so as not to scare the DS away from cyclocross in general.
Imagine my fright, then, when I heard the sounds of a torrential downpour on the roof of the house as I lay in bed that night.
When we got to the course on Sunday things were going from muddy to full on mud-bog-tastic. On my quick pre-race lap I found the course about 50% rideable and 50% slicker than snot off-camber insanity. I strongly considered suggesting to the DS that she might skip this race.
My race was first, but it wasn’t much to speak of. I started okay and moved up the ranks pretty quickly not by being super fast on the gas but rather just trying to watch where everyone else fell down and trying a different line. I’d moved into the top 10 and was feeling good, but I got greedy, made a huge mistake on a technical descent, and ended up wiping out and destroying my rear wheel.
With that, my race was essentially over. The silver lining on the cloud was actually the silver tire I had on my rim: It was a Hutchison Bulldog tubleless. Tubleless tires have a pretty good death grip on the rim, and I soon found out I could still actually ride the bike. Woot! So instead of pulling out of the race completely, I just rode two laps on a flat tire. To me it was better than a DNF, and I was able to come away from the day with a little war story and a little satisfaction.
As soon as I finished, I grabbed the stroller from the DS and she darted off to the starting line. I decided not to advise that she skip the race. I thought that if she could survive this and still like the sport then she could survive anything!
So off she sailed into the muddy nether. I felt like a parent nervously watching a kid go off to college. I thought of all the dangerous parts of the course and all the times she might fall. All of a sudden I had an overwhelming feeling that the DS was fragile and must be protected! It was too late, though. She was already out there somewhere ripping up the course. I waited nervously for her to emerge from the trees. When she finally did, I was super impressed! She was definitely having a rough go on the course, but she was prevailing and she looked great! Thats my girl! Me and the kids let out a bunch of “gooooooooo mooooooooom!”s
She disappeared again around the corner and I from that point on I was totally at ease. She was going to be okay!
My proudest moment of the day was on one of the most difficult corners on the course. It was a muddy downhill off-camber 180 degree turn back onto an uphill. Throughout the day the corner claimed hundreds of victims, including myself. The subsequent uphill was all but unrideable.
When the DS took the corner I was prepared to watch her eat it then shout encouraging words as she picked herself back up and trudged on. Instead, she totally cleaned the descent, railed the corner, and proceeded to ride the uphill! I cheered, the crowd cheered, the kids cheered.
At the end of the day the DS managed a little better than mid pack in her race, and she is excited to go back and do it again. Instead of being demoralized by overwhelming mud and slick conditions, she thrived in it. Its going to be a great season.
Here is a video /w the DS and my sister rocking the slip and slide off camber.
here is another longer video that sorta shows the overall madness. good stuff! my butt makes a cameo. hotness!