Cyclocross Is Here

With September’s arrival comes cyclocross season.

There is something so special about cyclocross. (I know I write this every year….) It’s hard to pinpoint but I think tonight’s experience explains it well.

Imagine a small park with a bunch of flags organized in a 4 x 4 grid pattern on a hill and one lonely barrier in the flat at the bottom. Add into this picture nine women ranging in age from their mid-20’s to late-60’s. These women are riding all types of bikes from disc-brake enabled bikes to bikes with flat pedals. There is a set start time for the session but people arrive when they can make it based on their schedule. Everyone is relaxed and smiling.

The ladies ride around, practicing slow dismounts and mounts. Sometimes they stop and simply practice lifting their right leg over the saddle. Then they practice lifting their bikes and putting them down. They do seemingly simple and basic tasks over and over again. No one complains. They listen. Sometimes it looks like they’re just riding in a circle, but really they’re practicing always looking ahead. Looking ahead to the next barrier, the next corner, the next patch of gravel, the next obstacle.

Eventually the ladies move on to the flag grid on the hill. Working on their uphill cornering, momentum and forward focus, these women keep riding and pedaling. They are getting better. Soon it’s time to move on to a new drill. Riding the grid down the hill, no front brakes allowed and always pedaling. We discuss and dissect the best way to do this. Everyone moves forward.

At the end of the session, we talk about what to work on next week. We discuss some things to think about during the pre-ride. We talk about the different races in our local schedule. We talk about the great success that some of our junior riders are having – two of them off to the World Road Racing Championships and one a member of the Senior National Whitewater Paddling team.

Everyone is so happy to be out again riding bikes together. On Sundays, these women are all competitors and racers but once the race is over so is the competition. On Mondays we’re back together, working with one another to improve and keep moving forward.

This is what cyclocross is for me. These sessions have me feeling like myself again – the enthusiasm from this small group of women is contagious and motivates me to look forward. Who would of thought a barrier, some flags, a bike and a small park could do this?

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