Getting Started in Cyclocross Racing: Episode Four – First CX Race!

By Khem Suthiwan

December 31, 2016 – One word described how I felt going into my first race…terrified. A few weeks prior, Clint suggested I come out to the WeAreButter Private Parts CX race and just preview the course for practice. The race was located on Michael Robson’s property just north of Boulder. Michael is a well-known fixture in the cross community has hosted this fun showcase of cyclocross for several years. It came about to provide an opportunity for riders training for CX nationals to get one last throw down under their belt.

One week before the race, Clint texted me “Sign up for the C race.” My response was “Okay” followed by “I’m going to die.” I’d been nursing a cold for a couple weeks prior to this and rode my new bike maybe twice since I got it. Barely enough to get dirt in the chain. When I pulled up into the parking lot, I saw other racers doing their warm up rides on the adjacent dirt road.

Kenny (Withrow) saw me pull in and started walking my way. He was there to do what he does best…capture awesome photos and video of the event. When I get nervous, I get really quiet. Kenny started rolling video asking me questions, which provided a nice distraction but I still felt terrified. I rode over to the race check in tent and saw all the stakes and tape marking the course. Things just got real.

I walked over to the registration table to pick up my race number and there was Clint, wearing his tiny glittery purple Happy New Year hat. His face lit up with excitement to see me there. His pep talk was pretty simple. “Take your time. Have fun. Get off the bike and run if when you need to.” He then promptly introduced me to the EMT on duty, reminding me that I wouldn’t be needing his services. No broken ribs allowed. Ha.

As I did my course preview ride I took note which sections I planned on riding versus carrying. Riding through Michael’s “ranch” was a special treat. Chickens, a rooster (who made himself known), and a menagerie of other features made it a very entertaining ride. There were a couple of “falls” involved, and as a triathlete falling is very foreign. Learning how to fall was not only outside of my comfort zone, but very important. There were definitely a lot of “oh $h!t” moments!

The banter at the start line was very lighthearted and from there on it was 40 some odd minutes of pure cardiovascular fun. The encouragement from other cyclists during the race and heckling and “hup hups” from the spectators made it a fantastic day and first CX race experience. When I was done, the only thing I was asked was if I had fun…and I sure did!!! And I can’t wait to go at it again!!

Stay tuned for Episode Five – Back 2 Basics Cyclocross

PREVIOUS EPISODES:

Episode 1 – Intro to Cyclocross
Episode 2 – Intro to Cyclocross – First Crash!
Episode 3 – Intro to Cyclocross – Bike Sponsor!

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