I woke up early Saturday morning—3am—to the sound of big, lusty gusts of winds. Actually, it was our dog Tex’s whimpering and howling that woke us up but it was the wind that scared him. My immediate thoughts did not turn to escorting Tex unceremoniously out of our bedroom but rather to the cyclists, who would be rolling up to the start line in just a handful of hours to begin racing. When you see pictures or watch these racers rolling and speeding into soft, muddy corners and alighting effortlessly upstairs while carrying their bike, I think I could do that. It’s only when the wind howls murderously outside my window that I begin to consider the outrageousness of that line of thinking and snuggle back under the blankets.
Because that’s the true essence of cyclecross: winter’s wet, windy weather, trails puddled with ice and leaves and slick, grimy mud. This is not road racing. It’s much more infectious and
accessible; the ice and mud you nearly slipped in to climb to a better view of a particular corner is the same sloppy mess the riders are navigating. The steep drop and big climb that you muscled your way up to is flanked by riders trying to do the same. There are also mariachis. Well, at least, at this race there were and it made the whole event that much more fun.
I missed part of the master race yesterday but got to watch the groups scheduled to race later in the day do practice runs of the course. I guess these groups included people a little more new to the sport as there were some hesitations at some of the more intimidating obstacles. But they kicked in, sped up and gave them a try and for that I was incredibly impressed and think I have found a new sport to watch.
Women’s Cyclecross Racing is Hypnotizing
Today, we went specifically to watch the women’s elite race. It. Was. Fantastic. I always thought I preferred watching the amateurs more; more relatable, I can relate to the pause, mustering of courage before the descent and the wild fling to get over the lip of a hill. But watching the pros (I guess, they’re pros) was equally exciting, heart-pounding and inspiring. One gal, who was dead last, minutes behind the main pack, fist pumped the air and all but ‘yehawed’ as she came round the corner and made the quick descent down the mud slide. I think her number read 118 and I think she got more cheers from our section than any of the other riders as we, the crowd, tried to match her enthusiasm and spirit. She punched the air, hooped and hollered and sped away.
Now she may have ridden straight to the parking lot and cried her eyes out. But she put on an unforgettable show! Thanks #118