Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As summer winds down:

The heat...oh the oppressive heat around the northeast in the past couple weeks has been unreal. Average temperatures of 85+ degrees paired with 70% or higher humidity have made riding conditions awful. In fact, there's been very little riding to be had.

My mountain bikes have been hanging in the garage with the exception of the 65 miles that I put on them around the time of the wedding in the beginning of July. I've been primarily riding my early season fitness into a big plateau, and re-building my cross bike, tuning it all up to get ready for some cyclocross races.

Cyclocross has laid an entirely new set of skills at my feet and challenged me to learn things like running dismounts and running mounts. Oh yeah, and how not to crush your...tender bits...upon remounting the bike on the fly. Sadly, since your right thigh is supposed to take the abuse of hitting the saddle first, when you MISS the saddle, it becomes a painful learning experience. I'm surprised I don't look like I've been beaten about the junk by a cheap sado-masochist off the corner of 42nd and Broadway (note that I'm clueless about that actual location, if it even exists...)

Similarly, running dismounts have been a hilarity. Not entirely hard to do: unclip and swing the right leg over the back of the bike, then swing it between the frame and your left leg, hit the ground running while unclipping, and go! Sure, easier said than done, especially when your left hand is operating the front brake from the hood and the right hand is supposed to be on the top tube, ready to hoist your beast over the looming obstacles. What could go wrong?

Let's talk about hitting a bump in the grass, the wheel turning sharp left and falling over onto the frame. Funny, right? Howabout scraping your leg on that non-drive-side cantilever brake as you swing the leg over the back of the bike? Maybe jamming the pedal/crank into the back of your right heel when the left foot doesn't unclip cleanly and you (try to) start running with a bike still attached to your left foot. Oh yes, this is supposed to be FUN!

Fun it will be. Mud, beer and cowbells. In fact, this description IS cyclocross. I'm looking forward to my first 'cross races: CX at Brewery Ommegang and the Wicked Creepy Cross Race in Bennington. Those should be a great intro to this bizarre fall/winter sport. consider embrocation on my shaved legs (and hopefully NOT mix it up with my chamois butter...)