Cyclocross occurs in that strange middle region after the end of a grueling XC and endurance season and before the brief respite of the off-season. For those more skilled in the ways of the barriers and dismounts, it’s a destination with regard to training and peaking. For me, it’s more of a stopover on the way to the winter and a way to extend the feeling of exhilaration that can only come from toeing the line of cycling contest.
Of course, if I was anything better than pack fodder, I’d probably have a different outlook on cyclocross. But I digress…
Out here in the unlikely hotbed of CX that is Southern California, there’s quietly been a groundswell of interest in this discipline heretofore known primarily as an offseason pastime. Given, we don’t have what would be considered traditional CX conditions, but what we do have is massive participation across all skill levels and a pair of race promoters that live for ‘Cross. Dorothy Wong and Jeff Herring have managed to grow the SoCal Prestige Series of Cyclocross 500% in terms of participation since its first circuit back in 2006. What they lack in mud and snow, they have in passion and dedication in spades. And sand. They’ve got a lot of sand, too.
Two of the 18 races in the series are full-on UCI sanctioned contests attracting some of the biggest competitors in North America and beyond. The first of which was Spooky Cross held under the lights at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, CA. The course, like most of the courses in the SoCalCX series, was great. It was staged around a horse racing track at the fairgrounds and featured long stretches of fast packed dirt on the straights of the track with various excursions into the infield for both grassy corners and custom made dirt rollers, tabletops, and berms. Good fun for sure.
In this series, I’m typically good for dead middle in my field – and I mean exactly the middle. If there’s 30 folks, I’ll get 15th. If there’s 15, I’ll be in 7th or 8th. It underscores my lack of cyclocross acumen, but at least I can count on being consistent. In the case of this particular race, I lost my marker of consistency.
In the second lap, I started to cramp really badly in my left calve. I was able to stave off a full-on seize, but it was there and started to lose places immediately, eventually finishing up 26th of 40. I’ve got a buddy that I always beat, be it in mtb or cx, and he edged me out in this one. Between the finish and the cramp, I’ll chalk this one up to poor “strange middle season – not quite off-season” fitness. It was still great fun, racing under the lights is incredibly awesome, and the Dogfish Punkin Ale waiting at the finish line is worth the price of admission right there.