So far this year I had participated in a 70.3 Ironman, an Olympic triathlon, an Xterra event, several road rides and a road race, but all year long I have been patiently waiting for the beginning of my first cyclocross race ever. Before I knew it, this past Saturday came along.
As it is often the case for me before any race, the night before I did not sleep very well. As the creature of habit I am, I woke up way too early and got out of the house on the way to Sheboygan, about an hour away from me, a lot earlier than what I needed to. Ten miles into the drive, it occurred to me that it was way too early, and, opposed to a triathlon race day, I did not have to be there 2 hours before the race start to set up in the transition area before it closed. Needless to say, I was one of the first racers there that morning and waited around for a while until my race time came around, but at least I was able to pre-ride the course and watch more experienced riders handle the barriers and the steep uphill at that course they call the “Equalizer”.
Soon enough it was time to line up…a short countdown and here we go. I had planned to start off in the middle of the pack so the first time I got to the barriers I could take my time with the approach and remount. I will admit I was a bit concerned about the barriers because I had only had one chance to practice before the day of the race (during the Belgianwerkx Cyclocross practice with Patrick). The first time over the barriers was a bit slow, but every time after that it was faster and the remounts smoother. The rest of the first lap felt a bit shaky, but the other three laps were solid. Shouldering the bike up the “Equalizer” was challenging, but I had gone up that hill before during the Xterra so it was just about keeping balanced with the bike in my shoulder. Looking back, it might have been even faster to run up the hill with the bike to one side, especially because the dirt was very dry and dusty.
The Ridley was great. The frame was solid and the Sram Force 22 components shifted without any problems. Unlike a few other riders, I had no mechanical problems and the tubulars were great to ride on. I saw two riders with what appeared to be pinch flats and was happy it was not me.
The first cyclocross race experience was a good one and now I am counting the days until the next one and looking forward to more challenging races as the weather changes and the course conditions become a challenging factor.
Piermario is a Team Belgianwerkx member who competes in road, mountain, and triathlon events. This year he’s adding CX to the mix.