Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cycle Cross

I raced my first cycle cross race last weekend in San Francisco. It took me back to the days of my first marathon or triathlon - the feeling of having NO CLUE what I was doing (the video below will prove this point thoroughly). Although in those races there was really no fear of breaking my arm or injuring myself - it's pretty hard to hurt yourself while running in a straight line for 26.2 miles. During this race there were many moments far outside my comfort zone, along with many "WHOA, this is really super fun!!" moments.

Kiet had assured me this was a perfect beginner's course. Right before I started he said "Charisa, they changed the course - this looks scary hard and technical!" DOH!! Well, too late now, it's time to race.

Here is how it all went down...

My friend Amy was racing her first CX race as well. She was nervous because she was on a mountain bike. (She ended up 4th!) I was really just nervous about endo-ing off my borrowed cross bike and screwing up my 2013 triathlon season. But not worried enough not to race. Life's short - live it up!

I raced in the Cat C women (the lowest category possible) and I secretly wished there was a Cat D, or F. We started with the men 50+ and the kids. Yes, I was about to get it handed to me by children under age 12.

Please notice the small children surrounding me. There was actually a boy lined up in front of me with Di2 and Zipp wheels on his cross bike.

Before I knew it we were off and I quickly learned my best chance of not coming in dead last was that I made up a ton of time on the uphills and flats. I do have an engine and in those areas I passed a ton of people.

I was absolutely HORRIBLE at the mounting. I could not running mount (even for a triathlete this seems slightly lame!?!), I could not get my feet clipped in (I used my road shoes and I have Keo pedals which I can only clip into on one side). But honestly that's just an excuse - I basically sucked at getting my feet back into the pedals.

I would pass a bunch of people on the flats and uphills. I slowed down on the technical sections, but did better than I thought I might (I mountain biked 10 times in college and maybe I remembered a thing or two from these experiences??), and then I'd have to dismount to jump over those little barriers, run through sand, gravel, water, whatever - you name it, this race had it. I'd get through the obstacle, have to stop, put my leg over the bar, get the pedal in the correct location, put my foot on the pedal, and finally push off and start moving again, all while being passed by seven kids, an old man and the single woman who amazingly was still behind me. And then I was off to chase them down again, repass, repeat process.

Please notice the small child I just overtook here!!

By the second loop I became more confident and my competitiveness came out. Seriously - I was getting it handed to me by kids and old men - this just did NOT seem right!! I got more aggressive on the technical sections, came around a corner, hit some squishy mud and flew off my bike toward a tree stump. Oops! No damage done, I hopped back on the bike (well, you know, it was kind of my slow mounting process again...) and took off.

While Kiet was taking part of this video I was laughing so hard at one point I thought I might not be able to get back on the bike at all.

After the race we were sharing our war stories - Jesse came in 8th and we thought he may have won some $! Kiet's brother waited up for him and they finished the race together, in the end he matched Amy's time (almost). I was pretty proud of myself for beating several kids and an old man until Jesse asked if I had actually finished in front of anyone in my class (Cat C women)? Ohhhhh yeah, possibly one woman?? But maybe not...

So in the end, I found a new sport I loved and will definitely be back for more. After the race we actually practiced some running mounts and I am proud to say I can actually do them now! Don't ever be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, try something new, or laugh at yourself. I guarantee you will never regret it.