Fantastic Cross-Tastic (and Then Some)

Ok, how fun was that? FOG’s Cross-Tastic race at Wittier Park on Sunday offered swoopy grass stuff, fast gravel sections, muckapalooza, stairs, barriers, hills… and then sausages and wicked draw prizes. Somebody described cross races as a family picnic with a bike race thrown in the middle. Seriously, is there a better way to spend a sunny fall afternoon? I doubt it. Not sure who’s been talking to the Big Guy to get such great weather for these races, but keep it up.

The Fasties.

A warm-up lap of the course proved very helpful in getting my bearings as well as a glimpse of what kind of suffering I’d be in for. I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction at first, until Jayson G. swooped past with a trail of riders following him like a bunch of baby ducks. I scurried to catch them and got a preview of the course, duckling-style.

One of the prime features of the course was a mud bog, the kind that you would lose both rubber boots in if you tired to walk through it. There was no riding through it, so you had to carry your bike through the ankle deep muck, rendering your cleats and then pedals completely useless.

The Dreaded Bog. (photo: Kim McCormick)

Now I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I heard that the bog was actually put there on purpose. Word has it that a dastardly duo spent 6 hours pumping river water onto the perfectly dry trail. Other than one of the villain’s confessions, I am sadly short on evidence.

Say it isn’t so! (photo: Dave Benson)
Identities have been masked to protect the (not so) innocent.

Fellow CycleChick Krista and I were slogging neck and neck through the bog to the delight of the crowd, and I just barely resisted the overwhelming temptation to tackle her into the mud. While I’m sure the spectators would have enjoyed it immensely, I suspect Krista probably wouldn’t have. The spectators did get a show however when I tried to remount after the mud, not noticing I had dropped my chain. So down I dropped as well.

In the bog, pre-wipe out. (photo: Dr. D.)

After a couple of times through the bog it was pretty much impossible to clip into the pedals, which were each carrying about 40 pounds of mud and looked like this at the end of the race:

There’s a pedal in there somewhere.

I almost endo’d over one of the barricades, right in front of Jon G., who always seems to be around when I do something spectacularly ungraceful. When I righted myself, I yelled to him that I almost fell (in case he hadn’t noticed). “Yeah, but you didn’t!!” was his optimistic response. I’m not sure, but I think Jon may be a Jedi. I was not so lucky on one of the swoopy grass turns and had a magnificent wipe out, again losing my chain. Curse you Dark Side!

Not falling. (photo: K.K.)

It was a great event, and it never fails to amaze me the kind of effort it must take to map out an interesting and challenging course for riders of every possible level of ability. I tip my helmet to all of the clubs and their volunteers for putting on these amazing races. Especially the unsung heroes of cross, the BBQ dudes.

Mmmmmm….. Barbeque…

I was able to clear out enough mud from my pedals to clip in for the ride home after lucking into a discarded plastic butter knife on the ground. Even though I couldn’t stay for the post-race festivities, I rode home exhausted, filthy (again), and smiling from ear to ear.

Unfortunately I have a lunch date with Frank and Andy Schleck next Saturday and can’t make Halloween at the Harbour. Man, can those guys eat. I guess I’ll have to save my Lady Godiva costume for next year.

p.s. Hope your nose is ok Gary!