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.

Riding ’til the light was gone…

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.



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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

6 responses to “Cyclocross Women’s Clinic”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    Hey, do you read The Road to Cat 1? The author is doing a crazy in-depth series on cyclocross. If you don’t his link is on my blog-roll

  2. alittlebitofeach says :

    Anychance you know if that clinic still happens. Searching for a women’s only clinic and not having much luck.

    • Karen says :

      That one has not reoccurred, but Helen Wyman, the British National Cyclocross Champ, holds one in Massachusetts each year. Not sure if it will reoccur this fall. Registration is usually on BikeReg and it’s supposed to be very very good. Not sure where you are located but sometime other prominent female racers hold clinics in various regions nationally. I watch BikeReg closely especially in August and September.

  3. Karen says :

    I haven’t seen the Wyman clinic posted on BikeReg yet. Sometimes you have to check back often. I’m not too far from Hartford, and I attended a practice here once: that was pretty good, but not female specific. They did have a Cat 1 woman co-leading however, who is pretty active in the cross community and seemed pretty nice.

    The Helen Wyman clinic is usually done in association with the Midnight Ride CX Race in Lancaster. I haven’t done either of these, but have heard it is VERY good and the race after the clinic is very beginner friendly. This is a link to last year’s event: It too is not specifically woman, but mostly women, and Helen is one of the nicest people ever! I’m not sure what the plan is for this year–she was often over here in the states for Holy Week of Cyclocross in New England, which is no longer happening since the schedule has been shaken up.

    Sometimes you can get involved with a clinic (informal and even free) if you are connected to a cycling club, meetup group, or facebook group. That’s how I connected with the women’s cx clinic.

    If you are thinking about cx and have never done it, it’s really, really fun. Really hard and fun. The community is wonderful and welcoming. When I started I googled youtube videos of how to dismount, remount, etc. And then practiced on a short dirt road.

    In late August and early Sept there are a bunch of practice races. I may start my season in Springfield at Blunt Park, which is said to be flat, fast, and less technical (I actually like the technical stuff because I’m not fast!)—Those late August races are a good tune up for the rest of the season, since I’m never really “ready” for cx season, and I use it like a training event.

    That was probably more info than you were looking for! Good luck and say hi if you’re ever checking out a race!

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