Step by Step

Today reminded me in many ways of my rookie year as a University of Guelph Nordic Skier.

It was a perfect sunny day up in Nanaimo, with blue skies, bald eagles, green grass and a temperature around 13 or 14 degrees. A slight sea breeze was coming in off the water, just enough to cool you down if standing idle for too long.

I tested the waters in the Expert division, this time racing for 60 minutes against a much stronger field. These guys know how to ride. Not only are they all technically proficient, most actually have the cycling legs and lungs to go with it.

I had a decent start. This time I knew to go hard off the gun, and that was a very good thing. Immediately as the race started I could tell this race was going to be much different than my first one. Everyone was there to go for the win, go for the points, and just simply go for it. Perfect. These are the kind of cyclists I want to ride/race with.

In that first lap alone, I rode faster than I really thought I could on the cross bike. Not really any choice there; it's either that or get dropped like a stone. The ride was going well and I was attacking the course faster, keeping up with the main group. As we got around to the back end of the 2.8k loop things became a little more technical. Riding behind the other guys, I was starting to learn how to maneuver the bike over and around obstacles while still maintaining momentum.

I'm still at the stage where I slow down in the technical bits then need to crank it up to catch up. The problem arises when there are a series of consecutive technical sections, with no straight away in between where I can catch up. This is where I lost time.

This was much like when I was first learning to be a Nordic Ski racer. I could just grind it out up the hills holding my own, then came the technical down hills.

I remember the first time I was able to keep up with another one of the athletes on the ski team during a race. As I skied behind him I learned a lot about where on the course to throw down the effort. Sort of the same thing today. That is, up until about lap 2 or 3 of 7 or 8 (I wasn't really counting)

Crash. I bailed and ended up bending my back brake to the point where it was out of commission. No problems though, 'cause brakes just slow you down anyhow. I was quickly back on the bike, and after another lap I had new appreciation for how useful a back brake can be. The front is just too powerful, sending the momentum and balance way off.

The next big crash was on the bmx course. I was trying desperately to get back on the group I was with, and without a back brake I went into the woop de doos with a fair bit of speed. I actually fully cleared one, and went straight into the next one. (It would have been awesome if I cleared both.) I quickly put the chain back on and finished the rest of the race, holding my position, almost catching a rider ahead. Despite the face time on the ground, I was able to finish ahead of the guys who finished in front of me the other week in Duncan.

So far cyclocross has taught me a lot about racing. Here are a couple key things:

  1. No guts, No glory
  2. No fear in a pack of riders. If you can handle the shoulders and elbows in a cyclocross race, riding a pack of roadies is no problem at all.
  3. When you are going 100% all out, this is a good thing. You can actually go at this speed for as long as you want. Now go faster to catch the group ahead, or take the lead and drop the suckers.
  4. Just go for it, and as always,
  5. Have fun!
Kyla, Alex, and Aaron rocked out hard core this morning too. Aaron took 2nd in the Beginners right from the gun. Kyla and Alex looked like they had a great time too. By the 3rd lap they were rolling through the course like a couple of pros. They were very excellent cheerer oners too. (ps. thanks a lot for the ride up and back. fun day!) Richard, as always the camera man and general race support. Big shout out to ya.

Mum, I hope you weren't too worried and scared watching this one.

I need to clean.