The British Columbia cyclocross season kicked off under sunny summer conditions on Sunday at Aldor Acre Farms in Fort Langley. I’m not going to pretend to know if the turnout was better than previous years, or comment on how typical the racing was, because this was my first cyclocross race ever! I will, however, spoil the end of the story for you – I’m hooked on ‘cross!
I haven’t had pre-race butterflies in over 10 years – ever since I stopped racing downhill mountain bikes – but they were fluttering in full effect for two days leading up to Sunday. I was genuinely nervous of what was to come. While I had been riding my road bike a bunch this summer to get back some fitness and lose some weight, I had a sneaky suspicion that long, slow rides weren’t the right training recipe for cyclocross. Adding to the excitement was the arrival of my new bike on Friday evening. Nothing like building a bike on Friday and racing on Sunday!
I arrived early and whipped off a few practice laps while registration was set up. The lap started with a series of three long gravel straightaways, leading into a sandy barrier run with uphill remount. Upon entering the trees, there was a tricky root that acted as a barrier for the majority of riders followed by a steep run-up. Only the very un-tired and skilled of riders were able to negotiate the root and ride the climb. At the top of the run-up was the reward, however…a section of fun singletrack that descended back to the start area.
One thing I enjoyed about cyclocross was the difference in skillsets between riders. While I was struggling to keep up on the fast power sections, my mountain biking background helped me make up some time on the descent. I kept thinking to myself that this course was like old school mountain bike racing. To add to that feeling, I kept running into old friends I used to race mountain bikes with in the pits! I kept joking that it was like a reunion tour for old school racers.
Sure enough, my so-called training did nothing to help the suffering, although I’m sure the suffering is never any less, you just go faster. I think I will be embracing the beer-drinking side of this sport more than the performance side, at least for the foreseeable future! Maybe next time the Brandy Handup will be up and running during the early races!
I ended my Cat 3/4 Men’s race on foot, as I was one of many folks who succumbed to a flat tire in the rocky gravel sections. Mine happened near the start of the last lap and it would have been easy to pull off into the pits, but I figured it’s always better to finish DFL than DNF. When results were announced, I was surprised to see my name 4th in Class! Perhaps others suffered mechanicals too. Needless to say, I’m hooked on ‘cross and really excited to have my old friends, the butterflies, back!
After my race I grabbed the camera and shot some video of the later categories…enjoy!
Filmed & Edited by Warwick Patterson / www.FormulaPhoto.com
MUSIC: Foo Fighters “Wattershed”