Cyclocross Women’s Clinic
After 12 years of watching from behind the yellow tape, snapping action shots with my camera while guarding my beer, I think I might actually be fool enough to give cyclocross a try. I heard about a CX clinic for women through a Mountain biking group I belong to on Facebook. I had never met any of the other members of the group nor have I ever attended a ride. I have wanted to but my schedule just would never allow it–my parental duties always took precedence. The clinic was held on Labor Day at 6PM–and it was only because it was a holiday that I could have a friend watch my son so I could attend.
I convinced my friend Heidi to join me and a total of about 10 women in Southampton, MA. There is a group of farms and unbeknownst to me, an entire practice cyclocross course just off the main road (a road I ride on fairly regularly–this little gem was under my nose all along). The clinic was led by the founder of the MTB group along with Molly Hurford, a writer for Cyclocross Magazine, and another local racer. Molly did a nice piece about the entire event in Cyclocross Magazine and you can check that out here, complete with photos.
Most of us had never raced a cyclocross bike. A few of us had cross bikes, some had mountain bikes. The clinic touched on the basics of cyclocross: the dismount, jumping the barriers, the remount, the carry, and off camber turns. The group was friendly and the emphasize was on fun and camaraderie. We went through the drills and had plenty of time to practice and ask questions. I had a great time and learned a lot, and feel really excited about taking on my first cyclocross event this fall. The women who hosted the event were super–graciously giving their time and expertise to our band of enthusiastic beginners.
Today I returned to the course alone to practice what I learned. This was a telling experience. Without the natural stopping points to receive instruction or ask questions in a group setting–I decided to reset my Garmin and just ride the course loop. I managed 2 loops and I was exhausted–less than 25 minutes. Two things played into this–one–I was not caught up with the energy of a group. Race conditions always make people faster–they carry you along. I didn’t have that. Two–I discovered just how fatiguing riding on grass can be. There is a fair mount of climbing on the course and the grass is like a million tiny arms holding you back.
I plan to return at least once a week for practice. Building up my endurance for the specificity of the event will be important. Riding 50 or 60 miles on the road might not be a big deal, but 8 or 10 on a cross course is an entirely other matter.