December 10, 2012

Big Bad Wolf Cyclocross Race Recap

Early in the fall I did the CXpreX cyclocross clinics and became hooked on cyclocross. I had the bike, I had some knowledge, now it was time to test it. For my first event I went to the Big Bad Wolf Cyclocross race, the last race in the Stomach of Anger series (this sport has a lot of funny names).

The course before the race
I started out by doing a slow test lap before the race in order to learn the course. Everything was going along fine until I got to the hill. It had snowed earlier so the ground was a nice mixture of snow, ice, slush, and mud. The hill was steep enough that it would be a difficult but certainly not impossible climb in the best of conditions. I gave it a try. Nope. I nearly toppled over mid way through while two others near me actually did. I dismounted and scaled Mt. Slippery on foot.

At the crest of the hill was a sharp right turn and then you go back down an even steeper part and about 3/4 the way down the hill is a hair-pin left turn that sends you back up the hill. I stood there looking at it the way an inexperienced skier looks at a cliff: in terror. I remember thinking, "You gotta be kidding me." While standing there contemplating certain death, a pro whizzes by effortlessly and gracefully skids around the corner and hauls up the other side. Well, here goes. I took it easy. Enter the turn wide, cut sharp and exit wide, was the only way I could think of to attack the turn. I was certain that inertia would keep me and my bike skidding all the way down the hill while I attempted to turn. While I was approaching the turn I suddenly remembered something the coach at CXpreX said that I thought was sort of silly at the time but suddenly made total sense. He said that we should think about our bikes like rear wheel drive Porsche's. My only experience with driving race cars is on video games like Gran Turismo but it gave me all I needed to know what to do. Just before entering the turn I slammed on the rear brake, turned sharp, then turned the cranks hard. It worked! I was still upright and facing the right direction. Another volley of hills and then we hit the beach.

I had never ridden sand before. It wasn't in the CXpreX. I made an attempt at it and failed repeatedly. I decided that to cross the beach I was going to have to shoulder the bike. There were about four or five nice long stretches of sand running. At this point I had been carrying my bike almost as much as I was riding it. Then the sands of the beach gave way to a nice long winding trail in the woods. In this area I knew I could focus on keeping some steady speed and catching my breath.

The course was challenging but it was very well marked. The race organizers got everyone together and before I knew it my group was off to the races. I stayed at the end of the pack in the beginning because I wanted to see what was ahead of me if there were a lot of crashes on the hill. Turned out there were a few minor crashes but nothing too bad. After about a lap I started passing a few people, but I was also getting passed (a lot) by people from the groups that started after us. After a few laps it was impossible for me to tell who I was passing. On lap three I rounded out my cyclocross experience by snagging a beer hand up. I took a good sip and slogged on.

At the end of my third lap the officials waved us off. I was tired and muddy, but I was done. I slowly rode over and greeted my family who was kind enough to come along and play spectator in the cold for that weekend. My son greeted me with a snowball while my daughter danced to a song no one could hear. Life was good.


Video from http://xxcmag.com

fastedj13's video of the event.