Made the trek down to Northfield, Mass. this past weekend for the annual Cycle-Smart Cyclo-Cross Camp. This was our (Marc and me) third time at the camp and it did not disappoint.
We got a bit of a late start but made it to Northfield in time to squeeze in a little ride to get the 6.5 hours of driving out of our legs. The campus was hopping with people arriving, unpacking bikes, lugging in bags and getting settled.
Friday night was a pretty easy night of supper and getting to know everyone. There were 25 participants this year – so definitely a good crew of people. The skill level and age covered a wide-range with some people completely new to ‘cross and with campers as young as 10 years old. With three seasoned instructors we were in capable hands. After the round of introductions, many of us hit the hay after a long day of travel.
Saturday morning came all too quickly. The morning was all about getting back to the basics. We worked on mounts and dismounts. This was done at all different speeds and with integrating a number of different techniques. I’ve written this before, but it definitely does a make a difference when the skill is slowed down. We broke up into skill-based groups and moved on to barriers (advanced group) or stayed with the earlier drills. Things definitely change when you are faced with a couple of barriers!
After lunch we hit the various “sections” that were set up. Uphill barriers – where we worked on shouldering the bike and maintaining foot speed. A sweeping off-camber section where we worked on choosing a fast line and weighting the bike. Then onto the downhill u-bend – this proved to be the trickiest section of the day. Adam emphasized that the “shortest line is not necessarily the fastest line”. We also spent some time on one of my favorites – bunny hopping – one day I’ll get it!
After supper we met down at the library for a presentation about training for cyclo-cross. This was an informative hour that helped emphasize the differentiators between ‘cross and road racing.
Sunday was all about race preparation. We spent time learning how to evaluate a course during warm-up. Then after lunch it was “race” time. We did a number of little races, culminating with a madison. Lots of good fun and spirit.
I think everyone left the camp with some new skills and some drills to take home for extra practice. Definitely an action packed weekend with lots of excellent time on the ‘cross bike. Not to be overlooked is the tremendous support from the Petar Tomich, the Mavic mechanic. He helped me out numerous times as I had a number of crashes and mechanicals.
All in all another excellent camp experience. I thoroughly enjoy the time spent meeting new people, hooking up with my coach Steve and the other Cycle-Smart coaches, and getting to hang out with friends I’ve made over the years racing ‘cross. Today I’m still a little sore and I have some crazy bruises – but this to me is a sign of hardwork and limits pushed.