By Amber Hoadley
Here in Bozeman, our cyclocross season starts the last Wednesday in August and ends during the week of Halloween. So we are currently halfway through our season! Last year was my first time EVER racing 'çross, and I have come a long way since then! I think one of the things that have helped me the most is just being able to pre-ride the course and be prepared! I come from a background of road riding, so being off-road in general is super new to me. But I know mountain bikers can understand the concept of riding the same trail over and over again, you just start to get used to where those turns are, where that fallen log is on the trail, etc. It's the same thing with cyclocross! I try to get there as early as I can before the race so I can do at least 2 laps before the race begins. It has helped me so much! I get more confident with every lap.
The second thing I've learned is to practice my skills during the week. I try to set aside a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and dedicate at least an hour or two to mounts and dismounts. I watch YouTube videos of my favorite cyclocross celebrities (Jeremy Powers, Ellen Noble, and Katy Compton). This has been HUGE for me. I've gotten to the point where hopping barriers is my favorite part of the race, and that is generally when I end up passing people - Woohoo!
I think the best part of cyclocross is the social side of it, and how involved the community is! I love the laid back vibe, all the spectators with their cowbells, and the racers that show up in a flannel and jeans from time to time, just to have some fun. It's truly become one of my favorite parts of cycling. I would encourage anyone wanting to try it to go spectate, or just sign up! Once it starts, there is no way of knowing who is first or last, and no one really cares! Worried about the proper gear? Have a mountain bike? Road bike? Heck, even a hybrid will do! The beauty of cyclocross is that it’s made for a combination of bikes, so whatever you’ve got, the odds are good you can use it to get your feet wet before committing to a new bike.
Get out there and get muddy.... and when you are scrambling up that muddy hill and dragging your heavy bike behind you; just keep telling yourself "this is fun... this is fun..."
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