It’s been a nostalgic couple of weeks. Last column, I was celebrating one year at Cyclocross Magazine. Yesterday, I turned 25. The day before that was Fathers Day, which reminded me that without my dad, none of this craziness would have happened. Which served to remind me … last year, one of my first columns was about the Harlem Skyscraper Criterium in New York City. I talked a lot about having my “race face” on, and feeling like I was being a real bike racer. I may or may not have noted that, at the end of the race, I was one of the last finishers. At least I felt like a bike racer, though!
This summer, I raced it again. And this time, thanks to a year of coaching, training and generally learning how to race my bike somewhat competently, I finished tenth. In a sprint! Now that is truly miraculous. Of course, I won’t be trading in my knobby tires for a life on the road anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that I’m not as bad as I was a year ago.
In fact, I really enjoy this about racing bikes. I tend to do at least some of the same races year in and year out, and seeing progress in them is really gratifying. Looking at the Tour of Somerville or the Harlem Crit, it’s easy to see that I’ve gotten stronger in the past year. It makes me excited for cyclocross season (more so than I already am) because this will be the first year that I’ll get to compare results in the same race.
Maybe it’s because I just got a year older and that has made me think about this a lot, but cycling really is a fantastic sport for women. Most of the pros that I know and look up to are a few years older than me, and that gives me hope. For someone who grew up not being able to – and not wanting to – run a mile, the ability to race bikes amazes me day after day. And the coolest part is knowing that every year I race, the better I’ll get, and unlike most sports, being older doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m on my way out. Thank goodness, since I still have a whole lot to learn.
It’s still two and a half months until cyclocross season, but that time is going to fly by. Time to start thinking about what bike I want to start getting together, time to start thinking about pulling the PVC barriers out of the garage for practice, time to start looking at the race calendar and making plans and goals. This is one of the best times of the year: prep time for the craziness that is cyclocross season.
And since it’s already cyclocross season in other parts of the world, this gives me a perfect intro so other cool news. Cyclocross is going global (more than it already was) and Cyclocross Magazine made a cameo in Treadlie, an Australian cycling magazine. Thanks to Brendan Bailey, the guy who brought us last year’s amazing coverage of Dirty Deeds Cyclocross from the Land Down Under, cyclocross is making it big over there. Even cooler: this article was written mainly about women in our sport! Maybe Katie Compton should pop over to Australia when she’s in New Zealand in July for racing.
If you want to read more about my training, racing, and editing exploits, check out mollyhurford.com.