The 2015 cyclocross season brought many surprises. I’ve only been off a few weeks and I’m still excited about all the fun and crazy I’ve had since September.
First surprise - I decided to compete in the advanced category on my single speed for the Wednesday night practice races. I won’t lie, at first this was my way of staying away from the race with most of the women so I wouldn’t know how out of shape I was. Then I realized how much I enjoyed the smaller field that was made up of skilled riders. An unintended side-effect? The 60 minute race kicked me into shape.
Winning races? Me? I have been a mid-pack category 3 for the past five years with a total of zero wins and a couple of podiums at the less-attended races. Going into this season I fully expected this to continue. But then I won the 3s at Metal CX. Odd. Stranger still was the win at Baker Orchard. Huh? A couple of wins out of town in a (very small) single speed category at Trek kept me thinking I was just a place-holder until the real 3s started to show up. After a great weekend at Green Acres I accepted the reality: I would have to upgrade.
Winning was both fun and awkward. I always felt like I had to apologize for my finish. Then I would hear this crap come out of my mouth, which was intended to be self-deprecating, but ultimately made me look and feel like an ass. And awkward one at that.
Upgrading was the most unexpected pleasure of this season. Though I didn’t realize it at first, this year in cross I felt strong, capable, relaxed on the bike, and even slightly competitive. There is no better feeling that ripping around a corner on a cross bike, standing up out of the saddle, and throwing your body into the cranks.The rest of the season was just gravy. I managed to not come in last in my races as a category 2 (woo-hoo!) and felt like I belonged there. Ending the season in Iowa City at Jingle Cross was a muddy, mucky, heavy-bike mess. I was solidly mid-pack, had a few places on the course where (dammit!) I knew I could do better, and was happy to escape without ripping off my rear derailleur. What more could you ask for?