Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So, with two mediocre 'cross races under my belt for the season; where do I stand in this wild and wacky sport? In the C's last year, I was masking a lot of mediocre bike handling skills with fitness. The guys I was racing against were Cat4/5 riders with not a lot of fitness but perhaps some mountain biking background. Yes, my handling skills were mediocre, but I could compete reasonably well simply because I was fitter than most of the field.

Now, in the B's, that's no longer the case. Everyone is just as fit or fitter (probably the latter), and they have the bike handling skills to match. So I come in close to DFL in both races this year and it's because of my shitty handling skills.

First tick off the list though, came last night. I took my 'cross bike, complete with dirt gearing and tires, on my commute to work. First off, riding crappy roads with big tires is fun! Come the off season, now that I have a real rain bike that is not my cross bike, I'm going to keep the big tires on the cross bike and use it for short commuting and some gravel road rides.

Anyway, though the day I was determined to find some time to practice 'cross, which really was short for "figure out how to get my ass back on my bike after dismounting without killing myself." Days are getting shorter and I wanted to ride the commute, so I didn't get to practice until I got home and was in my driveway.

I figured that what was holding me back with the remount was a mental tick. I was smooth enough at very slow speed where I can get on my bike without my foot leaving the ground. But as soon as I was above a single step, I had to dab my foot on the remount. It's kind of like track standing (which I can do). A rider learns to go slower and slower until he is damned near stopped. But there is a mental catch the moment he has to transition to letting his bike roll backwards on him. Similar here. I can remount as long as my foot stays on the ground as I hit the saddle, but there is a mental catch when I need to actually land on the saddle proper.

Last night, I got over it.

I reasoned that, since it was a mental block preventing me from remounting, I needed a mental trick to get over it. So I stood next to my bike, in the driveway, and mentally drew a line on the ground. Past that line, there is a pool of lava (corny, I know). The only way through it was to roll through on my bike (special bike; must be, or at least the wheels). Dab my foot and I'd lose it. The idea is I'll take half a step with my left foot leading, and kind of hop a little to get in the air and land on the saddle.

First time, lost the foot to the lava.

Second time... holy shit, I did it. Slower than walking pace, but I clearly was past the "catch." It was just a little hop, and I was barely rolling after I landed on the saddle, but I did it.

I do it again.

And again.

Now I add a full stride into the remount. It worked!

I do it again.

And again. The inside of my thigh is starting to get a bruise.

Finally I take a breath, and remount at a full run. Not a full full run like in a race, but a full run.

It works.

Suddenly I'm feeling a bit better about 'cross...