I’ve ridden bikes for decades, and I thought mountain biking was probably the hardest type of biking out there, but that was before I jumped into cyclocross. Now maybe it’s the fact that I’ve come in dead last in the only two cyclocross races that I’ve ever entered that is skewing my judgement here but I really think cyclocross is a whole other level of hardship, pain and suffering.

Today I raced in the Cyclocross Nationals. I knew there was a very high chance I’d come in last but I didn’t really care that much. I just wanted to get out there and race. Standing on the start line on a frozen, snow covered field in the bitter wind, I couldn’t have been more excited. At 11am we shot out of the startgate and within the first 45 seconds we had riders down. The ground was super slick, especially in the corners. I stayed upright for the first lap, but went down hard on my second, bending my bars and smacking the ol’ cranium pretty good. (Thank you helmet!) Riding a rigid roadbike with narrow knobby tires through the tight and twisty course was seriously good fun but haaaaard. Several times I had my back tire spin and kick out, making your heart jump in the way only a near spill can. But as I hammered, and hammered away trying to keep up to the other racers (Masters Category 30-39), I only fell further and further behind. Toss in that huge, slippery steel ramp bridge, a few lung-bursting icy run-ups and a long slog of a sand pit for good measure and let’s just say my morale took a bit of a beating on lap three… I remember asking myself “Why oh why am I doing this?!!!” haha…

Ramp Bridge

I think cyclocross attracts a rare breed of racer. It pulls in riders who say, owning a $5,000 mountain bike and $3,000 road bike isn’t enough so I think I need to buy a 3rd kind of bike. Cyclocross calls to roadies who want to get a little dirty and go off road, and to mountain bikers who find the racing season just a little too short. In a nut shell, it attracts devoted and dedicated racers, and from what I can tell only the fittest diehards stick around and keep coming back for more. Cyclocross is a brutal cardio hammer-fest from start to finish and I have to tip my hat to the racers. They are fit and fast. I’ll keep up with it for the rest of this season, and likely come in last a few more times yet, but I’m looking forward to next year and hopefully with some continued training I’ll have some better success.