I competed in my first cyclocross race on a whim. In December of 2013, Chris mentioned that this event called Capital Cross was happening just outside of DC, and that even though I didn't own a cyclocross bike, I could do it on my mountain bike. I was super stoked to try something new.
A few days before the race, it became obvious that a snow storm was heading our way. But the race was still going on, and so long as the roads weren't shut down, I was going!
Many, many inches of snow fell as we made our way up to Reston, arriving at the venue with only 25 minutes to spare until my start time!
I was a bit nervous when I noticed I was the only woman there on a mountain bike, but that all disappeared once we started. It was clear, given the weather, the ground conditions, and the layout of the course, that having a mountain bike was an advantage for the day. What was also awesome about being on the mountain bike was how many more people were cheering for me, because of my bike. People were shouting, "YEAH, mountain biker!" I was hooked.
The heckling and cheering at cyclocross races is awesome. I think it's one of the things that I like most about these events.
Cyclocross courses are short; I think the longest course I've ever been on was just 1.8 miles. You ride laps on this course for a certain allotment of time, and within the course are obstacles you can jump over with your bike, or hop off your bike and run over. With the race area being so small (relatively), you end up with a ton of people being able to cheer on racers almost everywhere on the course. "Heckling" is more about fun creative cheering than anything else. Everyone on the sidelines is so amped, and there's so much energy, and sometimes there are costumes, or beer handups (for the age appropriate) or snack hand-ups....
Cyclocross is a species of its own in the cycling event world, and I love it. I love the varied terrain, ride in the mud no matter what, pedal as hard as you can for an hour race scene.
Cyclocross is also one of the most welcoming race atmospheres I've ever been a part of. I think it's played a huge part in increasing the number of women that ride bikes and race, and I think it's helped cycling communities and groups band together to put on a good time in their home town. I know that's been the goal for the Rocktown Cyclocross Festival that we've put on the last few years. Come have fun, race, heckle, and hang out with a bunch of friends that ride bikes! The Rocktown Cyclocross Festival will be September 17th, this year. I know registration is up, and more details will be announced as we get closer to race date. I hope to see you all out there!