Natalia Ptas discovers the camaraderie and fun of cyclocross after a long road and mountain season.
My cross half-season
After a long road and mountain season I needed a break from racing and strict training schedule. For two months I enjoyed leisurely bike rides with friends, yoga, ice cold margaritas, French fries and chocolate cake, but missed the competition and having goals. I never raced cross and didn’t own a cross bike but decided to dive in head first in the middle of cross season. I was lucky to find a bike in my size and after riding it around the park and practicing mounts and dismounts I was ready to race again. My first cross race was painful and after being deprived of oxygen for 40 minutes my body was in complete shock. But the laid back atmosphere and my super FUN & FAST teammates got me hooked! It was still summertime in Colorado in November so my first two races were fast and resembled crit racing on dirt more than cross racing. But I was determined and after strict interval training my fitness was back and skills acquired during early season mountain bike racing in rain, snow, hail, and mud came in handy as the conditions changes. To my surprise I did exceptionally well in the snowy, icy and muddy conditions, and more importantly I really enjoyed racing in those conditions.
After four cross races under my belt I entered the CX state championships. To my advantage the course was muddy with some icy and slippery spots. I also learned how important your start is in cross races so I pushed my limits and was able to secure 6th spot after the initial sprint up the hill. I held my spot during the first 2 laps and was able to move up to 5th place in the final lap. My cross season, or I should say half season, was a blast and every race I learned something new, but what I enjoyed the most was the camaraderie and laid back and fun atmosphere. Now I can’t wait for next season!