By Amanda Leigh Cox
Snow-cycloccross: the craziest thing I could do on a Saturday in November, that was slightly more crazy than the usual thing I’d been doing on autumn weekends.
Cyclocross: that crazy sport of heroes that marries a criterium-style race with mountain-bike-y trails and obstacles, and whole lot of mud. The sport has a rich history in Europe as a way roadies could extend their fitness til weather made it impossible to ride outside. It’s taken time to catch on in North America, but now its popularity is undisputed. I first fell in love with ‘cross (‘cx’ for short) nearly a decade ago, when a bunch of cycling buddies and I formed a defacto club, racing as many Quebec and North-eastern US events as we could. At the time, cross was niche: a small community of fun-loving weirdos who didn’t take themselves too seriously, but liked to go fast and get dirty no matter the weather—I discovered that I, too, was a cx weirdo.
Cycling’s importance in my life diminished after I retired from road racing and had a little person I needed to look after, but I did the odd cx race, and dreamt of being ‘a mumma to be reckoned with.’ As my kiddo grew, introducing him to cycling was never in doubt: I bought him a bike at 2, but at 3 he really started to enjoy it. ….and that gave me an idea.
I took Casper to his first ‘trotteurs’ bike race – CX Fest in Terrebonne, naturally. He did a great job, had tonnes of fun, and impressed me with his determination! While biking home from daycare he’d purposely ride into piles of leaves, puddles, and up and down hills. I was thrilled, my kid’s into cross! It was official: once he was big enough (next year I hope) we’ll be hitting the Q-Cup series together.
In the meantime for 2018, I decided to do whatever races I felt like, on absolutely no training whatsoever, and learn to love the sport without performance expectations: in part for me, and in part to make sure I would be a good role model for my mini cyclocrosser. I found a team that would take me – Maglia Rosa, that rides out a shop by the same name owned by Yannick Perreault, who I know from my original ‘cross adventures all those many years ago.
I’m not going to lie, coming in last consistently was not an elating feeling. But what was elating was each time I remembered some cool cx skill I thought I’d long forgotten: powering through sand, speedy mounts and dismounts, knowing when running was faster than biking, carefully spinning thorough ‘peanut butter mud.’
…and then it snowed! In all my previous years racing cx, snow was a new beast to encounter, and encounter it I did, as I wiped out a bunch during my 45-minute race. Snow is weird, you’d expect it to be like fluffy sand – easy to get through if you just keep pedalling – but it’s not. It’s insanely slippery, saps your speed, will lead your wheels astray, and is super fun to fall into. As usual, this cx race was a blast.
So, that's a wrap on my "experimental CX season to see if I still like it:" no training, no expectations. Turns out cx is still my muddy heaven on two wheels. Looks like I've got some training to do so I don’t embarrass my kid when we race together next season! HUGE thank yous to Maglia Rosa Race Team/Équipe de Course Maglia Rosa for welcoming me with open arms, kindness, and cowbells.-Amanda.
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