My husband and I went down to Oleta River State Park, in north Miami Beach, yesterday morning. Oleta was hosting the 2nd annual Miami Cyclocross race at the park. Although I have recently purchased a cyclocross bike, a Felt Breed single speed, I didn't feel confident enough to start racing. It took me 3 years from the time I first started riding a road bike until I decided to participate in my first time trial race. So only having a couple of rides on my cyclocross bike, just didn't give me the skills do race on it. I have to figure out how to do those dismounts and remounts, in public, without falling flat on my face and looking like a complete fool.
Above: Adi Miro showing proper dismount at Miami Cyclocross Race. Adi won 3rd place beginning women.
It's Waffle Time
At the main pavilion at Oleta, there were homemade Belgian waffles available. A group of us got there right when the waffle station officially opened. Nothing like a hot waffle, smothered in butter and cinnamon sugar to start the day. That sugar rush probably could have gotten me through the beginner women's race, gel packs, we don't need no stinking gel packs, we've got WAFFLES!!!! A good cyclocross race always has plenty of spectators cheering on the racers and clanging their cowbells to really make some noise. Do you remember that Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken - "We need more cowbell!!!" Everytime I heard a cowbell clanging, I thought of that skit - made me laugh. :)
Mud, Sweat & Gears
Most cyclocross races feature a bit of mud along the course, kind of hard to add mud to a south Florida trail - just too dang hot. The water they kept pouring on the mud feature section of the trail drained right into the sandy soil. But there was lots of soft sand, dusty dirt, grass, gravel and paved road to make the race interesting. Riders had to dismount in a couple of portions along the course - there was a double logover at one point, followed by a steep uphill with a sharp right turn.
Down by the water, near the pavillion, there was a really tight u-turn after a rocky down hill section. Some of the riders on mountain bikes could ride the downhill part of that section, but didn't have enough speed after the turn to get back up the hill. I probably would have had a cow if I tried to ride that section, might even have thrown my bike in the water and headed to the pavilion for another WAFFLE! My cyclocross bike is a single speed, so any uphill sections can be a bit of a challenge, unless I have enough speed to float over the top. Where'd my freaking gears go!?! Oh yeah, I didn't buy any for my cyclocross bike!
Above: Rider remounting cyclocross bike after going through tight u-turn section by the water.
Checking out the Cross Scene
A few of our friends were also down at Oleta to watch the race. My friend Adi, actually raced, and took 3rd place in the beginning women's division - YEAH!!! But everyone else was just down there to see what the sport of cyclocross was all about. My friend Linda just picked up her brand new Redline Conquest Pro cyclocross bike the day before the race. She certainly wasn't going to race on a bike she just got. But she is an excellent mountain biker, she should pick up cx riding with no problem.
Men 35-45 and 45 & over on the dual slalom portion of the course.
My husband Rob brought both his mountain bike and his urban bike. He put fatter tires on his urban bike, and rode that around part of the cyclocross course during the warm-up session. He said that bike would work pretty good for a cyclocross race, without his having to shell out $$ for a brand new cyclocross bike. He didn't even take the mountain bike off the truck, too much bike, too heavy for cross racing. Although we did see a few people racing on their mountain bikes, that isn't the ideal setup.
Florida Cyclocross Club
Cyclocross riding/racing is fairly new to the south Florida area. This is only the second year that Oleta hosted a cx race. Not that many of our friends have ever seen a cross bike, but once they see what it's all about they seem pretty curious. I guess now we have to form a south Florida cyclocross bike club. Including myself, now I know at least 3 girls with cross bikes. My husband says I should start a cyclocross bike club, like I actually know anything about cross bikes or how to ride them. So if anyone wants to start the south Florida chapter of the cyclocross club, or a Cool Chicks on Cyclocross bike club, let me know and I'll be one of your first members! Hey, I might even volunteer to help run the website and/or help put together a newsletter for the club - but don't quote me on that.
Lynn Smythe AKA the Bike Diva