North Gower Cyclo-Cross Race

Sunday was the big day – my first race since mid-November when I crashed and fractured a vertabrae in my spine. I was a bit nervous in the morning but by the time I arrived at the most excellent park in North Gower, my nerves had settled. I have to say that seeing so many friendly faces and talking to so many cool people before the race really helped to settle me down.

The extra special factor about Sunday’s race in North Gower was that it was the annual madison race. This is a partner race – your partner does a lap – tags you – you go out for your lap – tag your partner – etc. This lends itself to a relaxed racing atmosphere with some teams focused on the “win” and most others simply out there to have fun. Due to the popularity of the Eastern Ontario Cyclo-Cross Series, the organizers held two races – the first race featured mainly kids, masters riders, women and occasional racers and the second race was primarily elite riders with a few women as well.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve raced the madison race but this year goes down in the history books: I was able to partner with Marc! I think this contributed to my nerves – I really didn’t want to let Marc down. But Marc was in it for fun and did everything he could to encourage me and cheer me on.

The race course was a lot of fun with a tricky sand pit, some fun little bumps, some twists and turns, a steep climb up the hill and a few well-placed barriers. The perfect course for my first race back. So how did it go? Well I went out way too hard for my first lap – had that horrible burning feeling in the back of my throat and some tightness in my chest. Needless to say my next three laps were ridden at a slower pace!

I have to say – I had a blast. The cheering from those watching, the banter during the race as we waited for our partners to roll in, the cheering of others in the race – it all just made for a great experience. After the race it was very nice to see so many people help take down the course.

All in all, a great day on the bike. I’ll be out at the next race this Sunday in Perth (I heard the hill is a bit steeper there!).

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