On Saturday, I celebrated the end (finally!) of my 3-month base period by lining up for my very first event of the year. I had stumbled across a cyclocross event being run by the BSMC mountain-bike club at Murarrie Rec Reserve (where I usually race the Saturday morning criteriums).
I've never raced cyclocross before, and it sounded like fun. A quick read of the QLDCX website revealed it was to be a pretty relaxed affair aimed at introducing people to the fun of cyclocross. There were no restrictions on bike-types, and they just wanted riders to get involved. Sounded like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
I rolled up at 2:30pm, and registered. I also signed up my two daughters for the junior race (which rolled off first) - their first ever bike races!
Course recon seemed like a good idea - so I rode a couple of laps. It was mainly on grass, and included a ditch (not too deep), a couple of wooden obstacles that you needed to carry the bike over, and some tricky off-camber hill turns.
This was also my first ever 'race' using my mountain bike. I've only ever 'cruised' on my Merida, and riding it aggressively took a lot of getting used to. I'll need to tweak my position on it, but that's something for another day...
So the girls' raced kicked off (approx 20min). I spent their race madly running around the course, cheering madly and handing off water-bottles for them to drink. They were both exhausted at the end, but had smiles on their faces. Even my 12yo, who had a bad stack on her 2nd lap and DNF'ed, was smiling not long after and talking about next time.
Soon enough, it came time for my race. I was entered in Open (the 'first-timers' category), and they decided to race all categories together, adding A and B grades in at the same time. We all started together (around 20 competitors in total), but results were to be split by category.
The first lap felt brutal. After not doing any hard efforts in so long, my legs were screaming! Plus pushing hard through the long grass just added to the stress on the legs. The combo of the technical sections of the course, the lack of racing in my legs, and the relatively unfamiliar bike had my heart rate maxing out straight away.
Most importantly though - it was incredible fun! It was so much harder than crit racing, as there was never a moment you could relax or catch a breath in the shelter of the peloton. Plus you had to be mentally switched on the whole time due to the surface and off-camber turns. But the combo was just a terrific environment to be racing in.
Adding to the atmosphere, plenty of the spectators had cow-bells they were madly ringing throughout the race! It may not have been a snowy Belgian winter, but the spirit was there...
Real cyclocross!! Our race looked nothing like this... :)
I managed to complete 9 tough laps in the allotted 30 minutes of racing. That was enough for 2nd place in the Open category!! But let's just ignore the fact there were only 2 Open entrants... ;)
For my trouble, I walked away with a great prize pack consisting of a Champ-Sys musette, a $10 gift voucher for Bicycle Riders Morningside, a sachet of Aussie Butt Cream, and a Specialized water bottle - plus of course my silver 2nd-place cow-bell! Not bad for a $10 entry fee!
Complete results list - here.
I would highly recommend everyone giving this race series a try. The event is very much focused on giving riders a new style of event to try, and it adds a great bit of variety to your cycling. Most people used their normal road bikes, and they were fine for the course. There were also a handful of proper cyclocross bikes, and a couple (including myself) used mountain bikes. Next time, if it hasn't been raining (ie it's not muddy!), I'll take my road bike instead.