Yesterday I put on my brave pants (or, I guess, brave cycling shorts) and went to a women’s cycclocross clinic. The clinic was held at the same location as the cyclocross clinic I attended last year. (I didn’t get the full benefit of the clinic last year as my fatigue held me back from participating in all the event.) Anyway… the event was put on FOR FREE by local cycling group called, you’d never guess it, localcycling.com!
Once I made it to the park, we checked our tire pressure. With cyclocross you will want to run your pressure much lower than you might be used to. I had mine at 40 on the front, 45 on the back… and that was still much higher than the more experienced ladies were running. (They had theirs in the 20s!). So that is something I will experiment with.
We saddled up and rode over to the gazebo for some introduction stuff. As I made my way up the hill, I needed to be able to put my feet down… and my shoes would not unclip from the pedals. (This has been happening lately, but not on a steep hill). So… yeah… I fell over before practice even started. Thankfully, the grass was a soft landing. Unfortunately, my shoes didn’t even unclip when I fell, so the bike landed on me pretty hard. Not fun. Embarrassing and painful. I kicked my shoes out of the clips and brushed it off. Shit happens.
During the intro, the subject of shoes and clips came up, so I did ask about my problem. It sounds like there are a number of things to check out with my cleats and clips to get them working properly. As we started working on mounts / dismounts, my shoes were will sticking in the pedals (and I had to stand with my full body weight to get them to clip back in) so I decided to ditch the MTB shoes and just wear sneakers for the session.
During the session, we worked on dismounting and then mounting. Once we had that down, we learned various ways to pick up and run with our bikes. Finally, we put it all together and did an obstacle drill. (Dismount bike, pick it up, clear the obstacle, mount bike and ride away). Our very last part of the sessions was practicing riding a full course.
I highly recommend attending a clinic, and especially a women’s only clinic. (If you are a woman, that is). I found that when I attended the co-ed clinic last year, I felt a bit intimidated by learning and practicing alongside men. (Mostly because lugging a bike around was much easier for them.) But also because you can pick up tricks and tips that only a woman might know. (How we can compensate for less upper-body strength in picking up a bike. And how to jump on without hurting your crotch, for example!)
It has been raining off and on here, and some of the local trails have closed… but I am assured that cyclocross practice will happen rain or shine. (Practice in what you race in!) I will report back on how that goes.
In the meantime, look out for my post on “Getting Started in Cyclocross,” the first in my cyclocross series! I will be having some amazing guest experts helping us to get going in the sport!