Better Than Anticipated: ‘Cross Race #1
Today was J’s very first cyclocross race! Given the lack of practice he had, nerves were a little bit high this morning. But he did it, it was awesome, and here’s the story.
We woke up a little late and didn’t have time to make breakfast. We made a quick stop to Starbucks for some coffee and food. Unfortunately, my breakfast sandwich was cold in the middle and J didn’t even get what he ordered. We would later highly regret our decision to rely on Starbucks for breakfast.
With our soy lattes in hand, we hit the highway. And I took a very artsy photograph…
J was a bit edgy during the drive. I can only imagine all the different emotions rolling around in his mind–anxiety, excitement, nervousness, dread? Who knows, but in just about no time at all we were there and it was time for him to gear up.
Luckily the registration process was really simple. Since J never raced before, he signed up for both the C and B category. By the time he got his bib on, there was about 9 minutes for him to practice and learn the track. So off he went while I searched for all the good photographic spots.
A few minutes after he left, they announced that the race was about to begin! Of course, he had no idea, but I was left standing there panicking. What if they start without him? Do they check to see if anyone is on the track? Where is he? Damnit, J, hurry up!
I sighed with relief when I saw him head towards the start. J made it back just in time to glide over and make his way to the back of the line. There were people crowded together, so it looked (to me) like he almost fell. That’s him with the bike and his back to the camera.
I was so nervous and excited! Before I could really think much the race was on and I was recording! Most of them started riding and went ahead, while a small group (including J) inched up and waited. Interesting, I thought to myself, as I continued to film. Then, J pulls out and pedals past me. Lesson #1: they sometimes let people go in waves–make sure you are with your “wave.”
It was fun to watch, although I was by myself for the whole time. Walking around and finding different locations to take pictures from. I had no cowbell, and didn’t even cheer (we talked beforehand and J was worried about it distracting him). I just snapped my pictures and smiled when he was in my sight. Each time I saw him, my heart would skip a beat.
He was pretty aggressive–he was definitely giving it his all and trying to pass people when he could. But he had a pretty awful look on his face. As though he was wondering what in the world he was doing and why did he get himself in this mess.
The trail was full of fun spots like off-camber hills, barriers (see above picture), wet sand, a long uphill, and two cool downhill sections. It took about 10 minutes for him to do one lap. He was pretty consistent, too–I was able to time about when he’d show up in my sight. While waiting, I wondered to myself about various things: Will he finish? Is his bike okay? What if he hates it? What if he regrets doing this?
But he finished! He did it! 4 laps in a little over 41 minutes. And I was there to capture the moment!
I was so thrilled, so proud of him! I quickly asked for the run down:
- Was he lapped? NO!
- Did anything break? NO–he almost fell because he wasn’t running fast enough at the first remount (after the barriers), but caught his balance. He didn’t even fall once!
- How’d he feel?? Worn out and sick. As it turns out, he started retching (as in, almost puked) while on the trail. So, little breakfast and a latte before a race? Never again…
So that’s it! His goals were to finish, not be lapped, and to avoid breaking anything. Well done, J! Well done! And as a bonus–he didn’t even come in last! How ’bout that!
And yes. He’ll be back again.
As for me? I don’t think I’ll ever cyclocross. Something about having to dismount and remount over and over again just annoys me. Although, we did see two people do it tandem! That seemed particularly crazy, so I might do a ‘cross race if J does it tandem with me…