The fittest I’ve ever been on the bike in late December

24 12 2011

I’ve discovered a new sport that has turned out to be as much fun as triathlon. I’ve intended for years to jump in a cyclocross race as the tri season winds down, but I never got around to it until this past fall. Now that I’ve taken the leap, I’m having a ball. Instead of doing a run emphasis or swim emphasis as would be normal this time of year (writing this on Christmas Eve), I’m actually cutting down on my running a little so as to be as strong as possible for the last couple races.

I’ve dabbled in bike racing here and there over the years and even though I absolutely love cycling and am very comfortable in a fast, competitive group; I’ve not fallen in love with the sport. It’s super dangerous with multiple high speed crashes at every event -race organization, at least here in central Indiana is very amateur compared with sanctioned triathlons.

That has all changed with cyclocross. There’s a new race promotion company in our area called Planet Adventure and they are putting on a first class show every weekend this fall in multiple venues – sophisticated electronic timing – instant results – free professional photography – and on and on.

If you are the competitive type and really enjoy RACING – you’d love cyclocross. It’s head to head racing at a ridiculously slow, safe speed. And as it turns out, I think triathletes are prime candidates to do very well as I’ve discovered. I’m finding I can beat guys that are much faster on a road bike and I’m not sure why. The best reason I can come up with is cyclocross really rewards general aerobic conditioning and also probably, light weight.

I’m glad I did not read too much (OK, I read nothing) about cyclocross prior to my first couple races because I would have been intimidated with the equipment “necessary” including multiple wheel sets – different tires for different conditions – and deep aero section wheels to keep mud from accumulating on the rims. Not knowing any of this, I went out on my 20 year old Bianchi with heavy box rims and six-speed drivetrain and placed 5th in my first Cat 4 45+ race. A couple races later, I was winning my division consistently and now lead the points going into the last race of the season next week. It’s kind of fun beating younger guys on their $4000 carbon bikes and Zipp wheels, but the truth of the matter is, equipment (other than maybe tires) is about as unimportant as it is in a running race.

I’ve been looking on Ebay and have noticed used cyclocross bikes, no matter how nice or expensive the original price, don’t sell for much more than $1000. Maybe December is a buyer’s market, because resale seems very, very low.