This past Sunday I raced in my first Cylcocross race. This wild race could be summed up as a criterium bike race that is off road, add a little steeplechase add some fun surprises and that is cyclocross. The atmosphere is also so different than triathlon. Its is so laid back and has a little taste of tailgating at a football game with groups grilling brats, and par-taking in Octoberfest beverages.
Its been fun riding the trails and off road since my tri-season has ended. Typically I hang up the bike all fall and early winter, but this has been a fun change and a new challenge. I have been riding around Leroy Oaks through shrubs and tall grass, jumping on and off the bike and come home with mud, grease, sweat and even blood on me. Fun!
So, Sunday we headed to Carpentersville for my first race. An Octoberfest was going on which is always great for the kids and Adam was awesome keeping them occupied and cheering while I was trying to figure out what I was doing! My race didn't start until 12:30,which is awesome for warmer temps and managing kids. We got there early enough to watch some of the men and scope out the course. Trust me, this is an event you want to know what you are in for and where. It is basically guts out for round and round a course for 30 min. This race had a sand pit, many sharp turns, some barriers, a creek and special for this year and my first race a section called "the pump!" sort of like moguls on a ski hill, BMX style. Adam caught this pic of me looking a little out of control (probably going too fast for my own good) but yet even though it looks like it...this is not where I wiped out! I found myself down in turn 1, and the sand pit! :)
The leaders in the series get to start on the line first then everyone else behind. I've missed the first races in the series due to being in Kona, so I tried to start as close to the front as I could. Think mass start in swimming for a competitive sprint tri, but you're on a bike. Its a mad sprint on a straight away until you head off onto the trails. I had a good start but started to lose it on the first sharp turn and end up 1/2 on 1/2 off my bike......suddenly I have in 10th or 11th place that fast! After the first lap, I had a good feel for the course and really started to go hard. I was getting better and the turns and was figuring out how to move my way up. The challenge is keeping as much speed going through sharp turns and sand and over barriers. I definitely need to keep working this. My fitness felt good, as I felt strong and was gaining on some of the girls in the front. In fact, I wish I could have gone the 45 min. (This is basically my first ever bike race, so I am cat 4.....you have to prove yourself worthy to move up! and the Cat 1,2 ,3 girls race for 45 min.)
I finished in 1 piece breathing hard and smiling. I will be back for more!