Thursday night was the final cyclocross practice at Joules Course in Lawrence. I am really bummed that I won’t get to ride around there anymore this year! I launched right into a lap of wandering around the course, which was tough. I seriously felt pooped. I grabbed a chug of water and went over to do the Velodrome oval for a bit when a big group set out for a preview of the course. I wanted to actually ride a real lap, instead of just wandering around “choose your adventure” style, so I joined the back of the pack.
Holy wow, guys. It kicked my butt. Thankfully, two laps would be the race for a Cat-4 race. That second lap was tough. I learned a few tips. Stand up in saddle, good bend in the knees and elbows, when it gets bumpy. (Yeah, makes sense. I do that a lot anyway). If you need to stop on the course, for example, if you are unsure about a tight corner and feel better about walking it, unclip right away. Don’t attempt to unclip one foot to scoot along with the other still clipped in. If you are about to get lapped, listen to hear what side they want to pass you on. But when in doubt, take the high side of a corner, or right in a straighaway so they pass on your left. (You might miss them yelling “on your left” though).
I also learned I don’t like tight downhill corners. There was a tight switchback (which I believe they called a quarter-turn), down and to the right. I just got spooked as I rode up on it and just didn’t have the confidence to try the skill in front of a big group. I unclipped and walked the corner. Total fail. I wish I could go out and practice the corner really slowly, and they a bit faster each time until I was at a normal pace. Sigh. Maybe I can find a similar hill / corner at a park and practice.
That all said, I am not feeling like after 2 practices and a clinic that I am ready to launch into racing. (Imagine that!) Maybe I will have some confidence in October or November…. Just not feeling it quite yet. When I rode up on the barriers in the middle of the course, I didn’t do the superman dismount. I stopped and unclipped. I just don’t have that faith in my abilities yet since this is all so new.
Hopefully I will get some good practicing in on my own and will attempt a race this year… but even if I don’t, I feel pretty good about racing Cat-4 next year. J