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My first Tucson CX race (x-post from MTBR)(15 posts)

My first Tucson CX race (x-post from MTBR)PirateGirl
Dec 9, 2002 11:14 AM
Hi guys,

Sorry for the x-post, but I'm a regular over on MTBReview. Figured some over here would enjoy the story and pics as well.

Cyclocross in Tucson? Yep, hard to believe, but Tucson has it's own cyclocross race series that just began yesterday. It's just a little 4 race series (2 in December, 2 in January), but it's better than nothing. And it's better than Phoenix, since they DON'T have their own cyclocross series. Yay Tucson!!

I've had my CX bike for about 6 months now. I bought it from a guy in our MTB club (Rudy, you'll hear about him later) to use as a beginner road bike. When Rudy told me the bike handled trails nicely, I thought he was crazy. The bike was so twitchy compared to my hardtail, and what was up with those drop bars? Well, a few rides on the road and I tried it on some light dirt trails. The Fantasy Island trail in Tucson is perfect for a CX bike, and it hasn't seen the road since. The bike is just too much fun on singletrack. Since then I've competed in the Soul Ride, an endurance MTB XC race (did the 30 miler on it) and an official road race, El Tour de Tucson (35 mile race), all on my Kona Jake the Snake. December finally came, and so did the first Tucson CX race.

Sunday morning Zac and I woke up about 2 hrs before the start of the race. We had gotten 4 hrs of sleep after driving back from Deming, NM late that evening. When we got to the parking lot of the park, the race volunteers were busy taping off the course and setting up the barriers. Luckily the barriers didn't seem to be too tall, since I had never gone over a barrier with my bike in my life. A buddy of ours from the MTB club, Dave, was there, as well as Rudy, who was elegantly dressed in his pink tutu. As I paid my entry fee (dirt cheap at $10 entry and $5 one-day license) I found out there were 9 women entered, with 2 of them being CX pros. Overall, about 50 racers showed up to participate, and I was surprised at the number of people in Tucson that actually knew what CX was.

We approached the starting line for our parade lap, and Rudy was kind enough to give me some last-minute advice. Don't start out too fast, and find a good pace to maintain. The race was to last 30 minutes. As we started out on the parade lap, I hung back to let the die-hards go ahead. The course wound around the park, with 4 spots that had barriers that required a bunny hop or dismount. I opted for the dismount, rather than a potential endo and face-plant. The park actually had a few hills that required short out-of-the-seat climbing as well. The parade lap ended quickly, and the men lined up for the start. 1 minute later the 9 women were off, followed by the kids 1 minute after that. Right from the start the 2 pro women took off, and I never saw them again until they lapped me. That would happen 2 other times in the race. My only goals were to have fun, finish the race, and don't crash or injure myself too badly.

Photo credits go to my husband Zac.

Rudy giving me some last minute advice.

Rudy out front early. Looks like one guy doesn't like being passed by a guy in a tutu. Dave's in blue in back.

Me heading into Turn1.

Going over the 1st barrier series in the race.

Rudy going over the barriers. I think the tutu gives him some sort of lift advantage.

Me going over more barri

Oops! Part 2 here.PirateGirl
Dec 9, 2002 11:17 AM
Apparently there's a character limit to posts over here. Here's the rest.

Hey look! It's Flying Dave!

The race must have been a sight for the regular occupants of the park, since everyone stopped to watch the race. It was kind of nice to be in a race with a few people I knew. Rudy rode by, floating on the cloud of his tutu's skirt, and wishing he had a bigger gear on his singlespeed. Dave passed by a couple of times, once on an uphill dismount approaching a barrier where I heard him say "Oops! Got off the bike to early there!" A few kids were running the race as well, but they didn't have to go over the barriers, since they were about ½ as tall as some of the kids. Each kid I passed I yelled, "Good job little dude! You're doing great! Keep it up!" A lady that was at the park that morning to ride with her kids decided to enter the race with her kids, and did a great job, since she was riding a 50 lb cruiser with a basket on the front.

Towards the end I was a little confused on the number of laps I had left to do. As I passed by the scorekeeper I asked "One lap left?" She agreed I had one left to go. All the fast guys and gals had finished long before that, but I finished up my last lap and was happy to cross the finish line. The lack of sleep was catching up with me, and I was bugging. But we hung around to watch the next class of guys race. Apparently the lead guy in that race was some 5 time national CX race champion. He was like a gazelle over the barriers, losing no time getting on and off the bike. He was actually faster than those bunny-hopping the barriers.

After the race I went over to the results tent. Surprisingly, I secured a 4th place finish in my first CX race! I was given a little pink 4th place ribbon that matched my Velo Bella jersey nicely. Next time I think I'll do a bit better, and will plan to get a bit more sleep the night before. I also convinced a few fellow mountain bikers to try the next CX race for fun. The race was a ton of fun to do, and I can't wait until next weekend for the next race!


Congrats!! But one question?Sabine
Dec 9, 2002 5:40 PM
Why didn't you remove your bike bag and water bottle cage?!

We are adding you to the site as we speak (type)

Dec 9, 2002 6:22 PM
The water is easy. I actually drank water from my bottle during the race. Must be the Zonie in me, always trying to keep well-hydrated.

As for the bike bag (& pump too), I forgot about those. I was trippin' that morning from lack of sleep, and almost forgot my shoes! Always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared I guess. My CX bike is my trail bike, so I tend to forget the bag & pump are permanent fixtures on the bike. Ah well, maybe I'll remember for next weekend! ;-)

Thanks, Sabine! Velo Bella is a great organization, all about promoting fun and all types of cycling. You've got a big fan down here in Tucson!

Dec 10, 2002 10:18 AM
Congrats on your fine form in your first race!

As for hydration, the secret is to get that husband of yours to put down the camera and start doing hand-ups! Having a water bottle cage on the frame will really hamper your ability to get the bike on your shoulder smoothly, should the course call for it.

I'm no exercise phisiologist, but I buy the argument that -- if you're properly hydrated beforehand -- you don't need to take in additional fluids for a 1-hour race, at least in the typically cool to cold weather of 'cross racing. That said, a hand-up of water or a sports drink during a race usually does give me a tremendous psychological boost, so I'm all for it, but I don't stress out about it if there's no one available to do it.

What park was it held in?Ray Sachs
Dec 10, 2002 11:34 AM
I grew up in Tucson and the scenery looked sort of familiar. Reid Park? Ft. Lowell?

Himmel ParkPirateGirl
Dec 10, 2002 12:15 PM
On Tucson Blvd and 2nd Street. The race next weekend is at Reid park.

I'm a native Tucsonan (2nd generation acutally) and have never lived anywhere else. Kinda boring when growing up, but then I discovered mountain biking and decided it was one of the best places to live. I lived on the east side of town, and went to Santa Rita HS. Moved on to U of A, where I met my husband, and we both ended up getting jobs here after graduation. Can't beat the weather this time of year!

Take the crossers to Fantasy Island....atpjunkie
Dec 10, 2002 2:08 PM
you'll have a ball! I tried to go without hand out water my first few races. I'm much happier to get a sip or two. I end up parched even in a well prehydrated 45 minute gaspathon. If I get some water it takes my mind off how dry my mouth feels and I can think about the race more
Been there, done thatPirateGirl
Dec 10, 2002 4:03 PM
Yup, my CX bike is my Fantasy Island bike now. I hardly ever ride my hardtail there anymore. I LOVE to pass riders on mountain bikes on that thing! The only thing is that my hands get REALLY sore from all of the braking bumps. But it's fun to make a spectacle of myself on that trail with that bike.

Dec 10, 2002 4:21 PM
so fun! suspension is for sissies. nothing like passing people on fully's with body armor in your tights on a cxer
Hey now!PirateGirl
Dec 10, 2002 6:56 PM
Suspension can be fun, when used on the right trails. I definitely wouldn't want to take the CX bike down La Milagrosa. That's what my Bullit is for (and other nasty Mt. Lemmon & Phoenix trails). My hardtail is the workhorse, with just enough suspension up front to make epic rides and XC races fun. The CX bike is the weapon of choice for Fantasy and other light trails. It enjoys the dirt more than the road.

Ah variety...'tis the spice of life!

Left Arizonatmotz
Dec 11, 2002 9:30 AM
8 years ago for Toledo,Ohio.The pictures make me homesick.I miss the mild winters and the hot summers.
re: Hey Nowatpjunkie
Dec 11, 2002 12:42 PM
Nice quiver. Have an ellsworth fully. Not knocking suspension bikes, just enjoying the rigid ride. I'll have to post my family pix as well
Left Arizona as welleyebob
Dec 11, 2002 2:07 PM
I post this often around these parts but I left a little over a year ago and i miss it too. I moved to New Hampshire (by the way, check out the pics from this past weekends cross action at the American Express Cup up here on I keep kicking around the idea that I should head back but I enjoy this area (it's home) quite a bit too. What a quandry.

Himmel ParkRay Sachs
Dec 11, 2002 7:35 AM
I'm not quite a native, but I moved there when I was 8 and pretty much stayed until I was about 22-23, so most of my formative memories are there. Grew up near Ft. Lowell Park and graduated from Catalina HS back when it was considered one of the best schools in the district (I've heard its hit on real hard times since). I've found plenty to like about everyplace I've lived, but you always sort of yearn for where you grew up and I'd move back to the southwest in a minute if family circumstances would allow it. As a city planner, I don't much like Tucson as a city, but what a beautiful setting!! I'd live there again in a minute.