Beer, cowbells and sand at Spa:CX

After endless anticipation and jumping makeshift barriers in the front yard, I finally entered my first cyclocross race last weekend in Saratoga.

I certainly made my fair share of mistakes.  I’m not one to dwell on my own stupidity, but perhaps riding up and over a mountain the day before the race wasn’t the best call, as was not testing my saddle and seatpost on bumpy terrain before the race.

But who cares. It was still a half an hour of raw excitement, sprinkled with pure, unadulterated pain. A good Sunday indeed.

When the whistle blew at 9:15, I felt more excited than nervous and I hung toward the back as the group jockeyed for positon on the course. I hopped off the bike and ran around an early crash, but I just couldn’t carry this momentum. My cornering was tight, but my mounts and dismounts were sloppy and at some points, cleats and pedals just didn’t connect. Perhaps I should have spent less time group riding and more time learning the intricacies of this bike.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I hit a rough bump and heard a loud “crack.” Alarmed, I checked my frame only to find the nose of my saddle pointing 30 degrees into the air. “Ok, this is going to be interesting.” And it was. I hit another dip and the nose shot up even more. I jumped off and smacked the nose, but it didn’t budge. Crouched on a small corner off the rear of the saddle, my only goal was to weave through the final lap so I could give my tender ass a break.

Saratoga’s course took place on the backside of the horse racing track next where there were  giant sand pits. Of course the promoters had to find a way to work these into the course. I don’t have much experience with sand and it showed. I ended up riding half and running the other. This killed my flow worse than the course’s mud and stairs. A week later, we’re still brushing sand off our bikes and out of the car.

Somehow even a cranky seatpost and sand as far as the eye could see didn’t keep me from having a blast. The women I raced with were friendly and encouraging. I discovered that my cross skills weren’t so terrible and the free beer didn’t hurt either.

Time to replace my seatpost and to keep practicing the front yard mounts and dismounts. Look out, Saratoga, I’ll be back!

Spa: CX

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