Mud and Rust

With the Outlaw a distant memory, what now? Last year, following my iron distance race, I entered an Olympic distance triathlon and it was not my finest hour – perhaps down to lack of motivation or perhaps tiredness - so this year I thought, ‘Why not try Cyclocross?’

I am hoping that, like triathlon, it will be rather more “inclusive” than road racing; I am told it is and my first experience has borne this out. Dipping my toe into road racing was not very enjoyable, as it’s all too “alpha male” for me. What probably didn’t help was that road racing being a summer sport meant I was training for triathlons alongside. Training for a 112 mile time trial whilst staying mindful that there’s a marathon to run after the cycle element makes the training experience a world away from belting round and round in circles flat out for an hour.

As a winter sport, Cyclocross training schedules don’t have to compete with triathlon ones. Like road racing, it is about forty minutes of flat out cycling - with little respite - so my training plan had to change: short efforts at maximum power are now the order of the day. Cyclocross “skills” are of course a crucial part of the training: hopping on and off a moving bike, throwing the bike onto one’s shoulder before scaling a muddy bank or leaping over an obstacle, with a modicum of speed and grace, takes practice. At the moment, I have limited speed and no grace so there’s plenty still to work on.

As a cyclist, I do enjoy a decent coffee: some might say it is as essential as the Lycra. For years, caffeine has been thought to bring training/racing benefits. So, imagine the distress and confusion when this very same magazine ran an article in their September edition claiming that “caffeine could have a negative effect on your performance”! This was not a message I wanted to hear. What next? To be told that cake is bad for you? The point that such articles don’t take into account is this: without coffee and cake, what is the point?

On the subject of cake, I had White Chocolate and Cherry Cake at a recent “Eat Cake, Tri Cycling” Macmillan coffee morning. Delicious! And even better, the coffee morning raised £170.

Update: Since starting this blog (I have been very slow in writing), I have taken part in my first Cyclocross race. I had two targets for the race: firstly, don’t fall off and secondly, don’t come last. Thankfully, I achieved both goals. Having said that, crossing the finish line in last place should not bother me too much; as they say, failure is the first step towards success. As for falling off, that is all part of the fun! What I found interesting was how polite the riders, when they were overtaking: ‘Coming through on the right. Thanks very much!’ being the order of the day. The ladies’ races - incorporating all ages - have a start time just one minute after the Men’s 50 Plus age group, so the best of the women catch riders like me very quickly, so I’ve heard the passing call quite a few times and it’s the same every time.

I am “racing” again this weekend and my goals for this race are again, not to fall off and not to be last. I’ve added a third: not to be caught by the front of the race, but we’ll see if that one’s a bit too ambitious …

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