Lake Geneva Cross

I had my very first cyclocross race this past weekend in Lake Geneva. I’ve been gearing up for my first season of cyclocross for the past month—I bought a cyclocross bike (a Specialized Crux Elite) in early August, have been attending weekly cyclocross practices run by the UW Cycling team, and even built my own barriers to practice with (more on that later). My legs are literally covered in bruises, but so far I’m loving the challenge and excitement of this new sport.

The Lake Geneva Cross event was held at a youth camp in Lake Geneva. Larry and I drove up the morning of the race, departing Madison shortly after 6 a.m. I was tired and nervous and had countless questions for Larry, such as, how will I know when to stop racing? Luckily, he was patient and attentive, helping me to feel more at ease. I was thankfully able to ride a practice lap on the course before my race, which gave me a better sense of what to expect. The course featured a little bit of everything—barriers, hills, a sandpit, trails, grass, gravel, sharp corners, and a steep ramp. The ramp was scary steep, and I had never actually ridden through a sandpit. This should be interesting.

I lined up with 13 other Category 4 women at 11:15 a.m. Our race would be 30 minutes. Essentially, riders complete as many loops of the course as they can in the allotted time. The thing about cyclocross, and what makes it so different from the endurance events I’ve dedicated myself to in recent years, is that you have to race all-out the whole time.

I had a nice position from the start, and settled into second place for the first loop. I was too afraid to take the lead since I had no idea what I was doing. After the first loop, I felt more comfortable and started to get a little restless with the pace (and could sense others behind me getting ready to make a move), so I passed the woman in the lead. From there, I was able to build a small lead. The second and third loops were hard—I was so winded and tired. I kept looking at my watch, hoping the 30 minutes would soon be over. After three loops, the course marshal rang the bell that signaled the last loop. My legs and lungs were on fire.

I finished and survived my first race with no major catastrophes. Afterward, I chatted with a few other women from the race. Everyone I talked with was extremely friendly. And so far, that’s what I like most about cyclocross. It just has this really laid-back, fun vibe. I still have a ton to learn and will undoubtedly get my butt kicked at future races, but I enjoyed my first race experience and am looking forward to the races ahead, including this weekend’s USGP.

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