My friend Holly had come back from watching a Fields of Joy Cyclocross race and insisted that I get a CX bike and start racing. Righto lady! Cool your jets! Holly had instantly fallen in love with the encouraging, friendly vibe of the spectators and racers alike at the CX event and thought it was a great way for women to have some fun riding in an inclusive, non-judgemental environment.
I'm new to racing, but have been commuting in Melbs for a few years now, enough time to give me some good reactionary skills, if you know what I mean? First I needed a bike (not so hard to get good advice from your colleagues when you work part time in a bike shop). Focus do cross bikes (Mares) with a great variety of frames and spec, and I bought one that I could use for racing and riding to work!
So off I trotted to the Fields of Joy CX event at Essendon Fields last month for my first event in the Open Women's category. I watched my mate Jay compete in the men's B grade which ran before my race and I had the sick feeling in my stomach that I didn't think I could do it and that I was ready to remain a spectator. He encouraged me to give it a go anyway and after a practice lap before the race started, I felt a lot more confident having tested the course. I also had such great support from our staff at North City Cycles and hot tips on how to handle the sand and mud from Bec and Renn (aka Team Willylocke), not to mention the answer to the all important question: "what PSI are you running in your tyres??"
I lined up in the back row of riders behind the Women's A and B graders and was eventually lapped by the A graders out on the course, but it didn't matter at all. I had such a great time riding around the course and being encouraged by the other women out there telling me I was doing well. I went to the Bright CX event and ended up going up a grade to B grade. I competed in my third race this weekend in the Dirty Deed's CX event at Darebin Parklands. The crowds were in the mood, cheering on all the riders and the one guy who ran the whole race in full bike kit and bike shoes. The kids race was such a delight and the women's field was the biggest they'd had to date, a reflection on the increasing popularity of this type of cycling. It really is a day out with friends and family, doing what we love best, riding bikes and hanging out with people who love and respect all forms of cyclists. One thing I love about CX is that it's not uncommon to see A graders, B graders, and C graders, including men, women and children, taking a spill off their bike and getting back up, so there is no embarrassment factor, because everyone is doing it! I hope to see many more women joining in and having a go.