I mean cyclocross-y? Crossy? Anyway, I’m excited. Just a reminder, we practice on Mondays and Thursdays at around 6pm-ish starting July 21 in Danehy Park up in Cambridge.

Danehy park, that squiggly bit is us.
Danehy park, that squiggly bit is us.

What will we do there?

1. Run-ups (and riding up for good measure).

That big hill is a beast at first, but you’ll conquer it in no time.

2. Dismounts/Remounts

How to get on and off your bike while maintaining motion and not nailing your junk or cutting your leg.  And how to do it quickly.


3. Barriers

(seriously though, don’t worry too much about these since they take about 0.06% of your time compared to the rest of it where you’ll be cranking it out as hard as you can)

4. Tight turns

Probably the most frequently encountered challenge in cx races.

5. What does off-camber mean?

(and how do we not just slide down it?)

(pay attention to 0:26)

6. Everyone’s favorite part: Bike tag!

Just a little closer…

7. Occasional chasing of rabbits.

To date, none of us have ever actually caught up with one. This makes for a sad, empty stew-pot.

Jessie, Dana, and Kristin in textbook Team Monster Truck formation

Later in the season/other locations:

  • Sand
  • Woodchips
  • Mud
  • Snow
  • Ice (in time for Ice Weasels!)
  • Jumping over things
  • Starts
  • Special requests!

That sounds fun!  What do I need?

1. A bike. Even if it’s not actually a cross bike, run what you brung! Rickety road bike? Trusty mountain bike? Dorky commuter bike? I did all of last season on a Jamis Coda.

. MRC race.

2. A helmet.  This is actually up to you.  But traumatic brain injury is no laughing matter and they won’t let you race without one anyway.

3. Lights, especially as it starts to get dark earlier, and that makes bike tag/rabbit chasing more difficult.

Just try not to blind anyone. Also, I’m demonstrating how NOT to take a turn since my inside pedal is down.

4. Water and a snack. Being dehydrated and hangry  is no way to spend practice. If someone gets donuts, we can also practice handups!

Tip: if someone hands you a powdered sugar donut, make sure there’s someone nearby with a beer to wash it down. Worst. Lap. Ever. Photo courtesy of Geoff Martin.

5. Bug spray. Because you’re delicious (to these things):

West Nile? I didn’t even bring my passport. image: wikipedia user Alvesgaspar

Ok, if you somehow managed to slog through the infodump that was my last post about cyclocross along with all of the links and are still thirsty for knowledge, I commend you … but you should really be outside riding your bike right now (at least until the next thunderstorm hits).

This is Dr. D and I after the July 4th-on-the-3rd fireworks show thunderstorm. Trying to hold a line in the wind and rain with zero visibility is sort of like cross practice, I guess. Once again, I will confess that I’m not particularly good at racing let alone write from any sort of expertise or authority outside of having one season under my belt and the desire to do better this season. However, there are some tips I would like to impart.

1. Foot retention is very important

This probably seems like a no-brainer, but since I was running on my old hybrid bike setup last season, I had started out with toe cages… which everyone told me to remove immediately. I was also not psychologically ready to try clipless pedals yet, so I ended up doing my first race on platforms. That went about as well as expected.

whoopsie daisy
An accurate re-enactment of when I slammed the brakes at Night Weasels just without the rail tracks.

2. Don’t ever ride through a puddle unless you’ve seen someone else go into it first.

Save the swimming for later, tri-hard.

3. When shouldering your bike, make sure your handlebars are secure.

4. Chamois cream before embro.

Just trust me on this. I highly doubt I need to put any sort of visual here, but if you insist…

It feels kind of like that. The shorts might be fire retardant, but the stuff inside the shorts certainly isn’t.

So, there you have it. Learn from my mistakes.

And as always, ride your bike.

-Valerie (aka the Green Fairy)