Testing out barrier hopping skills at the Dirty Deeds clinic. Andrew Blake

Testing out barrier hopping skills at the Dirty Deeds clinic. © Andrew Blake

by Kate Lansell

The first Dirty Deeds (the cyclocross series that’s growing the sport in Australia) women’s skills session was held last Saturday at Darebin Parklands. For a misty Melbourne morning, it was great to have a bunch of enthusiastic women arrive all kitted up and ready to go. Some were experienced riders who had participated in last year’s season. Others were brand new to cyclocross and were sporting nervous smiles.

To get the legs moving, we set off for a couple of laps around the park on a route that would have been all too familiar to those who had raced here last year. There was a distinct lack of mud which allowed us to go home with clean bikes. However, it meant no slipping and sliding practice.

With the warm-up done, it was time to get down to the technical stuff. For most people, cyclocross barriers are the most daunting part of the race. So with the aim of breaking it down into achievable parts, we set about practicing dismounts, lifting the bike, and running remounts. Once everyone had had a chance to practice, we put all the steps together and collectively launched ourselves at the portable barriers.

I had expected the two-hour session would be mostly taken up with barrier practice, but the group picked it up quickly, so we staged some mock starts to get used to riding in a bunch. These proved to be great fun as we raced down the grass to perform a tight turn around a marker to ride back up over the barriers.

By this time, the sun had come out and arm warmers were being thrown aside en masse. To finish off the session, we completed another couple of laps around the park and tested out new skills along the way.

What a way to spend a Saturday morning! We were thrilled to have such a great turn out and to be kicking off the season with such an enthusiastic bunch of women. There is quite a buzz surrounding women’s cyclocross at the moment and we are hoping that will translate into a record number of entrants in this year’s Dirty Deeds events.

A big thanks to Dirty Deeds committee member Nik Cee and local cyclocross legend Lewis Rattray for their guidance on technique and all things cylcocross. Lewis even gave us a run down of the professional women’s cyclocross scene in Europe.