for those who don’t know what Cyclocross IS (which is most of the universe) check these out
Here is a great introduction Introduction to Cyclocross
So, a 30minute race (for the 4b ranking… the bottom of the bottom) and you do as many loops as you can. 3-4 is normal.
Doing cyclocross is an off season “treat” for me. It’s just something fun, it’s not anything I’m terribly good at and it helps keep up the bike fitness. It’s muddy, it’s raunchy, it’s high effort, it has hecklers, it is… just a good time out being active.
Plain and simple. This is something you do when you don’t think sitting on the couch is a very good idea anymore. I race various things “for fun” maybe 10-15x/yr. I try to get a couple/few ‘cross races in each year. Grass roots kind of races and overall, just a good fun crowd. Sometimes I know people, sometimes I’m out there solo and I’ll go make some NEW friends (when did making friends become HARD as an adult? Kids do it in no time). I really feel it important to expand your world-view constantly. Get OUT of your comfort zone and go DO something – don’t just watch, get out there and DO. Will you win? Um, probably not. But remember, 99% of the field WILL NOT WIN. So go out and have a good time, improve your skills, and maybe some day you WILL win if you want. But if you had a good time…. you’re a winner every time.
This race was close to the house and so I broadcast out to all my friends who are a part of the Prairie Dogs Multisport club and the Suburban Multisport Team to trying to encourage some to come WATCH. Several said they would, never know though but I thought that could be fun. I later found out that some of the Sub-M folks would have the tent up so that’s cool, some would be there. Bonus.
I had a long weekend prior. 3:15 ride on Sat and then Sunday morning I did masters swim (90min). I was going into this TIRED. Post Ironman, this is the longest weekend already… without the race. But it didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to win, I was going to have fun – and fun is what I was out for.
I get there and check in. Normal stuff, except no safety pins. I find one of the prior wave lead guys and beg some off him. He chastized me nicely about not having some spares – he’s right I brought NOTHING – so lesson learned. I do some warmup and find some of my tri club buds – Allision, Jamie, Cathy, Tomasz – WOW quite the showing. And I think there were some more. Jamie’s husband was racing too. Nice!
I got my warmup in, got my number on correctly D’OH was the newbie spotlight on me? Hmmmm and got lined up. My legs were toast during warmup, this is gonna be reaaaaaaaaaal interesting!
So we start! I held position for a little while, probably because I started somewhere near the back? Yeah, maybe! It’s always a mass pileup during the first several turns until the crowd thins. So I held a decent pace but wasn’t worried about much to start.
Once we hit the 3rd hairpin I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction! I had to do some creative positioning on the bike as we did a haripin on a hill (those are just SO fun… not! you’re going UP a steep hill and then have to do a 180 degree turn, with people all around. Well, as I stood and worked to move back to my seat my friggin bike shorts got caught on the saddle and I flashed everyone the full moon! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS! Just a second and I pulled my shorts the rest of the way back up (mostly) and carried on. Bahahahahahhaa. So sorry crowd!
Flipped around another curve and then up an incline. I overheard others saying to get off an run this section if it’s crowded as it’s off camber, a hair pin around this big tree, an the roots make the surface slick. I hopped off the bike and ran it, passing maybe a dozen people.
That was a good move. Was actually thankful to hop off, because even though we were about 4 minutes into the race my heart race was screaming high. I didn’t look, but from feel I bet it was in the 170’s. For my athelete friends, my LT is around 165. So this effort was similar to running a 1 mile, all out. Wowza… 4minutes in and I’m gasping for breath trying to remember how to focus my eyeballs!
Around the tree, hop ungracefully on the bike (huh, maybe I shoulda practiced that move?) and off I went. A bit of flat and turns and then the first barrier. Hopped off the prop all proper ‘cross style (leaving left leg clipped in, unclip right, bring it over the bike and then flick my ankle to drop my other foot and start running… almost like I knew what I was doing!). Hopped it, and got back on. Not TOO horrible of a mount. And off…. to the cornfield… Oh my.
Carpentersville Cyclocross corn field this is actual footage from the race. I’m in there briefly in my Escape from Alcatraz (red/black) jersey.
so in case you couldn’t tell, this is a big long stretch through the corn field which they’ve made a bunch of hills – maybe 2-3ft tall, one after the other after the other…. and then a big mud big. Then a berm and another bigger mud pit. Quite the challenge to stay upright.
We exit to a 10ft section of heaven. I mean road. Holy crap my HR was out of control. But back to it… A bunch of relatively flat sections with hairpin turns. Which means you get absolutely no time to get up to speed before suddenly you’re slowing to turn – cuz I’m a complete wuss turning on grass, at speed, 180degrees, on muddy ground… anyway, zip and zip and zip and zip and finally up to some barriers. Did a proper ‘cross dismount, very pleased, grabbed the bike and ran over the barrier and tried to jump the creek which was convieniently placed right after the barrier. Too wide to jump so splash through and over until I’m no longer sinking in the mud before I dismount. Ungracefully. Did I mention maybe I should have practiced? I’ve only had 2 years since my last race… I’ve had time. But BEST YET was the Twinkie lady! She was waiting for me, she said she saved me one! Whoo hooo! I said FEED ME (at least I think I did it may have come out as “uuuugg”) and she ran along side and shoved that Twinkie right in my mouth!!! Cooooooooooool! I chomped down what I could.
Ok, a bunch of twists and turns and generally flat. However at this point I was totally alone. I’d dropped a group back in the mud pit never to be seen again. Most of the field, however, had dropped me. I found out later that there was the couple of leaders off the front, then the peleton, then me, then the back field guys. Well… maybe if I hadn’t done a 3hr ride the day before and 90min master swim the morning of… I could have kept up? Who knows. Had to go through the kids SAND pit…
Oh, and I have to say Twinkie is NOT good race food. If it’s food. Whatever it’s too darn sweet. I had to wash it out with something to drink, thankfully like the newbie I am, I had a water bottle (and a bento box and a bike bag – just missing my front basket, reflectors, and a little bell shaped like a ladybug!)
As I hit the start/finish line I looked at the watch. 11 minutes. REALLY? THAT’S FREAKIN ALL? OMG OMG I have 2 more loops of this? (30 min race, 3 x 11 is 33… so I had 2 loops coming, I just didn’t know it!).
So I set off and I have to say the course was easier without so many darn people in my way!! most of the second loop was uneventful, so I’ll summarize.
1. As I got near the tree, a guy ran with me and said “D000000ddddeee! ONE WORD – BIB SHORTS!!! OMG THE IMAGE OF YOUR A$$ is BURNED IN MY BRAIN” – I could only laugh
2. The barriers are WAY bigger one the second loop (not they aren’t, I’m just a pansy)
3. The MOVED THE COURSE! So now it’s not the cornfield but the CORNHOLE! (And yes, they delighted in screaming GO THROUGH THE CORNHOLE!) you can see their shennangians here:
Trip through the cornhole… (this is actual footage lap2. I’m in there near the end of the group)
Pretty funny trick actually, but corn stalks are real hard to ride through. Lots of people got bogged down there.
4. The barriers after the cornhole were EVEN BIGGER (no they weren’t, I just needed some excuse)
5. Almost to the end of the second loop I got lapped. Dangit, I hate when that happens – but I’m not surprised. Soon after another guy came by me, almost to the line, he sounded like he was gonna die. Clearly, he was hot on the chase for the Coveted 4B Championship (that’s a ‘cross joke – 4B is for the newbies and the faster guys who’ve already raced like 4x that day so they’re toast. There is NO prize money like there is for the rest of the races).
6. The horn went off and I was maybe 150yds from the line. It took me 14minutes for the second loop (11 for first). WOW IM SLOW)
7. So I came in 3rd. Well, 3rd across the line. But I’ll take it. Got some crap from the locals for not doing the 3rd lap “YOU PAID FOR THIRD” but I was SO done.
So, overall, a sucess. Why? I didn’t wreck, I didn’t die, and I didn’t sit on my butt on the couch. Caught up with some new friends and old, new teammates and old. It’s all a good day at the office, so to speak.
I hung around for a while and traded war stories with some of the back of packers and middle packers, sprayed down my bike and did a bit of a cool down. Took a while, my body was so amped. I wouldn’t even take a 5k that hard so I have no idea why I did this one that hard!
but it did remind my why I don’t race these every weekend. This 30min race (25 really) trashed me more than a 70.3 Ironman. I’ve been racing long and slow for so long, it feels good to try out another speed.
If you’ve never seen a ‘cross race, I highly recommend it. Heck, get out and try it. It’s a lot of fun to do or just to come watch.
Big thanks to the Prairie Dogs Multisport Club and Suburban Multisport Team folks that were out there cheering me on the 10th overall was in my wave, first ‘cross race I think, he did AWESOME). HUGE Thanks to Tomasz for taking these awesome photos – thanks man!!