Mical Dyck in her element - on the 'cross course. ©Doug Brons
Mical Dyck in her element – on the ’cross course. ©Doug Brons

Mical Dyck loudly announced her cyclocross season’s intentions in Seattle, rifling off the front of the Elite women’s pack at both StarCrossed and the Rapha-Focus GP. She claimed fourth and second places in those races, respectively, and was the last hanger-on when World Championship bronze medalist Katerina Nash hit the gas. This season, Dyck has added a new challenge to her cross-training, with two Xterras thrown into her early season regimen, just for kicks.

by Mical Dyck

When asked if cyclocross is good training for Xterra, I’m definitely inclined to say, “No.” But vice versa? I’m thinking maaaaybe. After a sub-par cross country season, I made the decision to try something new while everyone else was away at MTB World Championships in Champery, Switzerland (big congrats to fellow Canadian and new World Champ Catherine Pendrel). So I signed up for the Canadian National Xterra race in Whistler. I mean, how hard can it be? After a couple weeks of sporadic swimming and a handful of short runs, I found myself standing knee deep in the cold Alta Lake water of Whistler, British Columbia, in my brand new wetsuit getting ready to embark on a novel adventure.

Once I not-so-gracefully survived the swim, and even less gracefully survived the exit of the swim — running after swimming is a lot harder then you’d think — I thoroughly enjoyed the awesome Whistler singletrack. That leg of the race was pretty much the only thing that kept me in the game, as the run was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in a long time — I tripped and staggered around the course for over an hour. In the end, I finished fifth, missing fourth place by only nine seconds, then ended up drooling over my post-race burger for the next three hours. I was totally and completely spent.

Dyck relied on a combination of athletic prowess and a dizzying kit to confuse her predators in Seattle. ©Kenton Berg

Dyck relied on a combination of athletic prowess and a dizzying kit to confuse her predators in Seattle. ©Kenton Berg

After a couple days of recovery, I was feeling great and more then ready to switch gears into the much beloved cyclocross. The first Wednesday night underground ’cross training ride was on my mountain bike, the Trek Cronus arrived Friday and was built and ready to go for the first Cross on the Rocks race on Sunday (thank you, Trek Pro City!), and I packed the bike up and flew to Vegas on Tuesday. This was my first time at CrossVegas, let alone in Vegas at all. Wow — that’s about all I have to say: way too much sensory overloading for my liking.

I wasn’t sure how things would feel come race day; how would all the cross country training and the Xterra adventuring transfer over to cyclocross? I was pleasantly surprised off the start of CrossVegas. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt strong. I’m still working out the quirks on a new bike, so I’m definitely using that as a valid excuse for ending up in last place after going down halfway through the first lap, but I battled back to a 15th place finish.

Two days later I was in Issaquah, Washington, for StarCrossed and the Rapha Focus GP, and again I was very pleasantly surprised with how things felt. I remember hearing somewhere about holeshot primes at a couple of races. Turns out it’s the USGP only, but hey, why not practice whenever possible. I’ve always had a great starting kick, so I have to take advantage of that, because the speed burst doesn’t last for very long.

I tried to stick with Katerina Nash as long as possible during both races, but it’s amazing how fast she can run in the sand! You’d think me being probably half a foot taller that I should be a super-fast runner, but nope, she’d gap me every lap through the sand. In StarCrossed I got sloppy in a corner and wiped out hard, finishing fourth, but in the Rapha Focus GP I was able to keep it all together and finish second – my first big cyclocross podium!

In my infinite wisdom, I decided it would be a great idea to do another Xterra race, and flew directly from Seattle to Salt Lake City to line up with Lance Armstrong in the Xterra USA Championships. Well, I do have to say that may not have been my brightest idea, but it was pretty fun. I literally almost didn’t survive the swim this time, someone felt the need to stop me and ask if I was OK. Ya, that’s a little embarrassing.

After hyperventilating for over half-an-hour in the water at altitude, I never fully recovered, and the rest of the day was purely survival. I was actually a little thankful to feel my rear tire go flat – a valid excuse to stop. I ended up drooling over my burger for a couple hours again when all was said and done, and nope, I wasn’t able to rally to a fifth place again. When you come out of the swim over 12 minutes behind, you know you’re not going to have a great day.

I’ve been home trying to recover from this last escapade for the past week, this is where the “Maaaaaybe” comes in when asked if Xterra is good training for ’cross. We’ll see how the New Belgium Cup USGP races go in Fort Collins, Colorado, next weekend: Fingers crossed I start to feel normal soon.

Mical Dyck is a 29 year-old mountain biker and cyclocrosser from Victoria, BC, representing Trek Pro City Victoria. She’s always looking for her next adventure, from TransRockies to CrossVegas to Xterra Nationals. To read more from Mical, visit her blog.