Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What's Our Favorite 'Cross Ride?

This week we wanted to mix it up and describe our favorite cyclocross ride. What's are favorite Wednesday skill ride? Where the heck do you even train for cyclocross? Team member Nic Jenkins offered up his favorite ride in his hometown of Colorado Springs. Hopefully his insight will give you some inspiration as the where to rally your cross bike in your own hometown. Really it just comes down to having fun and riding as much mixed terrain as possible.

As many options as there are in Colorado Springs for cross riding in the fall and winter, my all-time favorite place to ride is at Monument Valley Park by Colorado College. Honestly, you could even host a cross race there. With a giant sandpit and steep hills, I can ride for hours on end and refine a variety of skills. In fact, a bike path runs through the college area all the way to Monument. That being said, I can put in necessary endurance miles as long as I want, or until it gets dark out after school.

Typically, I like to do a couple mile start loop to my ride around the iconic Fountain Creek. I focus on feeling comfortable on the bike while eating and drinking throughout. From there I do a couple laps on a mock course that my brother and our neighbors made a few years ago. It includes a run up, navigating around some trees, hopping logs, and more race-like features. Afterwards I head to the sand pit and try carving some ruts in various directions; sometimes I hammer straight through and others I’ll turn slightly in the middle.

Frequently I ride through the park without a particular agenda, taking random turns and accelerations to mimic a cross course - some have turns that are really awkward and take time to master. Lastly, I spend some time hopping the metal bars in the parking lot at different speeds, for I am feeling more and more comfortable clearing barriers of a standard height.

Last weekend at Cyclo X Interlocken, there was one section that had a barrier run up, followed by a sand pit, and then a U-turn directly into another sand pit. Without a doubt, practicing sand riding skills during the week helped me out, especially when I got more fatigued as the race progressed. I actually had my best finish yet in the SM Open group (10th) and clocked the third fastest last lap of all the riders. It’s an awesome feeling to throw some elbows with local pros and test your fitness for a full 60 minutes, as opposed to 40 minutes.

Moving forward, I’m going to participate in a few more pro races in Colorado before starting my off-season. I have been training hard since the end of May and am excited for some time off from the bike. I always look forward to skiing and running in the winter. Not that I don’t enjoy cyclocross in December, but the timing isn’t the best. Next year my goal is to achieve top results at the UCI Junior events domestically and internationally in hopes to make the Worlds’ team in September.

The days of riding in the snow and cold where you pull out your winter gear (shoe covers, gloves, hats, leg warmers, etc) are right around the corner! I will give another post sometime this winter and give info on the latest outdoor adventures.

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