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8 December 2015 3 comments
When Cross Makes You CryCorrespondence Friends Events Sports Cycling Bicycles Monthly highlights
"I just don’t understand. That’s the pure definition of masochism if it only feels good once it’s over." I’m on the phone to my Mum, telling her how I spent my Sunday afternoon and her suspicions that I’m just a little bit barmy have been ramped up a level. The activity we’re discussing is cyclocross and I’m just done explaining how the day’s race was so hard that I nearly puked and cried. “It just sounds horrid,” she continues. “I don’t know why you would do such a thing.” Rewind a few hours and I was asking myself the same thing. Cyclocross is a form of bike racing that takes place in the winter months on a variety of predominantly natural surfaces, participants racing as many laps as they can of an incredibly slippery, muddy course with obstacles that might mean you have to dismount and carry your bike. Good bike handling skills are essential and unlike road and crit racing, there’s no drafting or hiding behind your opponents for some brief respite; cyclocross is an all-out solo effort that puts you in the red from the minute you begin pedaling. It’s a brutal, roughly hour-long assault on your body and mind, and one that I wasn’t even sure I was up for. My expectations for the race were extremely low; my prior experience of cyclocross was limited and primarily negative. I’d done a grand total of three races before –a traditional cross race on school playing fields (that I hated), what was meant to be urban cross race but ended up taking place in a disused tip (that I hated) and Rollapalluza’s legendary ‘Muddy Hell’ Halloween cyclocross, which was fun because I just didn’t try very hard, so unlike the other two I could actually breathe. But despite those other races, I did actually want to like cross and after a summer of crit racing and my first ever attempts at training, I was keen to give it another go for a variety of reasons:
- To see if I really am any fitter
- Because I live in Devon and there’s not much going on
- To check that I still hate it, because surely thousands of people can’t be wrong.