Intro to Cyclocross Episode Five – Back 2 Basics CX

By Khem Suthiwan

Don’t let the name of this race series fool you. It most certainly misrepresents how much it can test your bike handling skills. There is definitely nothing “basic” about B2BCX. Tight turns, loose dirt, sand pit, sharp sweeping turns at the bottom of steep downhills, cambers, stairs, barriers…so many CX skills packed into one course.

So what’s so “Back 2 Basics” about it? Cyclocross racers coming out of hibernation and wannabes get to switch their gears to off-road fun every Wednesday evening for six weeks – a great opportunity to dust off their CX bikes and skills. In addition, the first three weeks the series offers a “Newbie Women” Category, and women new to CX get to race free of charge (one-day USAC license not included).

To help newer CX riders and those who want to fine tune their technical skills, Sue Lloyd, owner of Inspired Training Center, conducts a skills workshop prior to the race each week.

Although the venue location doesn’t change during the series, the course alternates every other week between two weeks. “Counterclockwise” on the even weeks and “Clockwise” on the odd. Each course with different features to give each rider plenty of variety to test their strengths and weaknesses.

The first week I missed due to a work trip and I’ve managed to get through the last three Wednesdays with no crashes, just minor falls – mostly slide outs. As Drew Christopher eloquently explained to me the other evening, “falling” is considered making a “sacrifice” to the cyclocross gods, which I hope eventually results in good cyclocross karma for the future.

After each session, I’ve learned to embrace more and more the newly acquired scabs and bruises – badges of honor in this sport…at least I’ll keep telling myself that. One morning I showed up to my tri club’s group swim workout and received some funny looks. I can only imagine what a party full of CX racers is like. Triathletes compare race results and medals, while CX’ers compare scars and wounds. Awesome!

What I’ve really enjoyed about showing up every Wednesday night is the support and comradery by everyone, even the seasoned racers as they’re lapping me for the 1st and sometimes 2nd time. I even met a couple who decided to give CX a try together…and every week after finishing our race, we hang out and watch others bunny hop over barriers and admire their smooth flying mounts and dismounts.

I’ll fully admit that every time I line up at the start, a feeling of nervousness tries to overwhelm me. Once the official blows his whistle, I go into survival mode. Get through the course the best way I can, and if that means getting off my bike and carrying up and down loose dirt hills, so be it. Last week the sprinklers came on and I felt like a kid again – memories of childhood when I’d ride my bike up and down the sidewalk through my neighbors sprinklers came tumbling back.

With each week, I learn more about myself, what I’m capable of, and pushing myself just a bit further outside my comfort zone each time I line up. If there’s one takeaway from my racing experience at Back 2 Basics I’ve had so far it is this…it is okay to fall. It is when we fall that we realize all you have to do is get right back up and keep pedaling. Plus, losing a little bit of skin isn’t the end of the world. It grows back!

Cross-curious but not ready to race? Come out, watch, and heckle us on! So far, the best heckle I’ve heard was this week…“Get down in your drops you roadie!” Pretty darn funny!

Two more Wednesdays left (September 20th & 27th), first race starts at 5pm with the last call up at 6:17pm. Bring your camp chair, cooler backpack, and a cowbell. Heck, bring the kids and dogs too (on a leash…the dogs, not the kids). It’s a guaranteed fun time!

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