So I rode in my first cyclocross race today, and I have to say: it was EXTREMELY fun. Aside from the fact that I had to haul myself out of bed at 7:15 this Saturday morning, it was a good time. My friend Matthew races too, and was nice enough to give me and my bike a ride to the race (up in Kenmore) so I didn't have to leave hella early and ride my bike there.

Cyclocross is a different kind of bike racing: instead of riding on pavement, you're riding on grass, dirt, gravel and even occasionally sand. Plus there are barriers, where you have to dismount and jump over (with your bike) and get back on and ride, all without stopping. I'm not so good at this part yet, so I did end up kind of stopping a little on the remount a few times, but I am getting the hang of the dismount. Not that I'm fast, but it was mostly just hella fun. The barriers and the varied terrain of course make CX slower than road racing, but the top performers are often the same people and are by no means less fit than road racers. Also, at this one at least, there was a beer garden (bonus!) and Matt offered to buy the first beer for anyone in our bike club that rode and finished the race (double bonus!) So after my race (which was first) and the mens' equivalent race (in which a few of my friends were riding, and which was second) we all stood around in the beer garden heckling and cheering on the later, faster, better racers.

The best part about doing a CX race is that you can eat whatever you want afterwards. Because really, spending 40 minutes (which was how long my race was; i think i came in around 39:00) at or near your maximum heart rate, riding a bike up and down hills and running and jumping barriers is a good workout and burns hella calories.

I ended up finishing 8th out of 15 women in my category; not a bad showing for my first race. My average lap time was 9:35, while the women who won were closer to 7:30, but... like I said, being my first race and being as out of shape as I am (trip to HI, no bike...) I think I did pretty darn well.

After the race, Matt needed to stop at REI, so I tagged along and once again demonstrated my inability to enter that store and exit without spending over $100. OTOH, I picked up some much-needed gear (floor pump; front light; new tubes) and only one overpriced fun gadget - a heart rate monitor watch. So now, if I'm wearing the chest strap sensor, I can see what my heart is doing at all times, and make my workouts more efficient. Hopefully the fun gadgetry will make me more inclined to actually work out, rather than just riding with my beerbike club twice a week. I can see CX being a really fun way to keep in shape this winter... and who knows, after a few more races, I might actually get faster.

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