West Coast Cycling's Vanier Park Cyclocross, on September 28th, was a serious beating in every sense of the word. As I said following the race, "I felt like an empty shell of a man". There was nothing I could do and no obvious reason why. I just had no gas like in that dream where you can't run. It hurt a lot and at first I thought I didn't have fun but in hindsight, it was pretty darn cool handling corners and solving the problems that become a cyclocross event. My thorough spanking came in the intermediate B men's category where I feel I belong. Unfortunately, there seem to be a good number of riders that would fair well in the expert category too so when the power-required sections came up, they left me chewing their cud.
Although super discouraged after a back of mid-pack placing at Vanier I wasn't going to let that stop me and I signed up for this past weekends Castle Cross, put on by Escape Velocity. Again, I took on the intermediate B men's category. This course was way more twisty and climby with three good run ups, some mud and even a bit of single track. It was right up my alley and I was pumped. Off the start whistle I took off strong and sucked off the wheel of my bro-in-law, Mike "the beast" Tunnah. Knowing Mike's fitness level and strengths, I was thrilled to be there and knew I could hang on. I hung with him until the middle of the second lap when another rider overlapped wheels with me and bumped me off course to fall. That's part of racing and I literally laughed out loud but I hadn't realized my shifter had been bumped in the mayhem. I carried on and worked my ass off but the hills just seemed out of this world hard. I was out of the saddle and could barely get the bike over each crest. With a huge smile on my face, I kept my head down and worked hard for the remaining laps. It wasn't until my cool down lap that I realized I had shifted into my big ring on that second lap layover. It all made sense at that point and again I laughed out loud. Rookie mistake. I guess that's what you get when you let a runner ride a bike.
For what it's worth, I want to say a big thank you to the clubs that are putting these events on. They're so much fun and I know it's a lot of work to put together a race.
Also, I'm super glad to see Mike Tunnah riding so well as he's my cycling nemesis and BCBR 2015 partner. I will work all season to beat this guy and I love that the camaraderie and competition keeps me honest and pushes me to be fitter.
Anyone considering cyclocross in the off-season I can only say this, DO IT! You don't need a cyclocross bike. A mountain bike will serve you well until you do one race and realize you're hooked. Then you go to Steed Cycles and seal the deal. Check out Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition and the Holeshot for local events and other cyclocross related details.
Next up, Mahon Atomic Superprestige in North Vancouver on October 19th. Hope to see you there!