Cyclocross training for newbies


Fear, Crazy Smiles, and a Whining Dog

Cyclocross training needs to start somewhere. Ideally, the ‘cross-racer-in-training utilizes areas such as a cyclocross track, or has at least taken their ‘cross bike through some off-roading before entering a race. But sometimes the ideal situation is not realistic. Or, the ideal situation just takes too long,

Here’s the situation: The race is this weekend. J has a cyclocross bike. He has cyclocross tires. He even has the crank. The only problem is that SpYder X is missing something important…a wheel. Yes, a wheel. When he decided to do a cyclocross race after we saw one this month, he started making some changes to get SpYder ready. That is, of course, when he learned that the hub of the wheel is broken.

Step One: Practice on a Trainer

The wheels should be delivered today–right at the last minute–but he still needed to at least practice something. For J, that was on the trainer practicing dismounting in the fancy cyclocross kinda way.

man getting onto bike that is on a trainer

I never noticed that ‘cross racers need to pass their one foot through the other! Yikes!

Step Two: Practice in the Real World

The second stop, then, was to practice out in the real world. He chose a random patch of grass near our apartment. I wanted to be there to capture it on film. J wanted me there to rush him to the hospital if needed–he was quite terrified of getting stuck and falling over. Our schedules are pretty hectic with school and work, so it was pretty late by the time we had a chance to do this. And, yes, it was raining (why wouldn’t it be?).

Since it was so late and we hadn’t had a chance to take the dog out, I decided to bring him along to watch, too. So I pull up into the parking lot and put on my brights to give J some extra light, and he goes at it. It was really hard to take a picture–most of the time the camera just picked up his reflective gear.

Image of reflective gear lighting up

At least reflective gear works when someone tries to take your picture…

It was a joy to watch, because I saw the first signs of what I call the “crazy ‘cross smile” emerge, and I was lucky enough to capture it on camera.

man cycling at night with funny smile

Smile Interpretation: I am one bad move away from serious pain. This is awesome.

You have to look closely to see the crazy smile, but it’s there:

man cycling at nice with funny smile

Insert hysterical laughter here

As  I mentioned, I brought our dog along for the adventure. Unfortunately the poor guy  was quite distraught and whined the entire time. It made me wonder about how dogs make sense of the world. What did he think was happening? Why was he upset? I imagine that he was confused by seeing what kind of looked & smelled like his dad, but had some doubt it was him because of all the strange material on his body and head. Or, perhaps he thought that his dad was being harmed or was in danger by this weird thing spinning and zipping him around the grass.

It also made me wonder about how J is making sense of his world. Deciding to enter a cyclocross race with (maybe) 1-2 days practice? I think he is gaining a sense of adventure–something of which I will gladly take credit for! When we first met, white water rafting and zip lining were definite “no way, that’s crazy, I’ll never do that!” in his book. On the other hand, I’ve always been a little bit of the adventurous type and can be surprisingly fearless sometimes.

I’d like to think that I’m becoming an influence on him.

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2 responses to “Cyclocross training for newbies

    • Exciting! Definitely post about your experience this weekend! I will definitely tell him 🙂 Yes, that’s we he’s looking for: hard work but FUN! Thanks for commenting!

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