The new bikes are built, the tubulars are glued, my legs are almost used to running and it's finally warm in the Bay Area... all of these things mean that it's finally cyclocross time!
I realise that the road and mountain bike seasons linger on and there's some big race in Switzerland but in my world the light has changed and it's time for skinny tyres on the dirt.
I'd like to introduce my new team: Vanderkitten (check out www.vanderkitten.com). A few years ago I wrote an article about them and since then they have branched from tee shirts into cycling clothing.
Dave, the owner, is committed to supporting women’s cycling and this year it includes myself, Shannon Holden and Haley Bean for cyclocross. We designed a great looking kit that compliments my new Ibis Hakkalügi bikes. Some of you may remember the old steel Hakkalügis, the new frames might have the same names but are completely different. They are all carbon (my first carbon cross frames!), super light and handle like a dream.
Two weeks ago was my last day of work; I quit my job (maybe not the smartest thing I’ve ever done) to devote extra time to racing this fall. I'm not getting any younger and with my track record of sickness and injury I figured this was a good year to give it everything I have.
The first race of the season serves as a painful reminder that training is not the same as racing. It also reminds me why I race 'cross - I enjoy catching up with friends and competitors each race and I like the pain of riding really hard.
My first race of the 'cross season was part of an eight race local series in Livermore, CA. I like the series because it's low key, close to my house and usually involves running up a long flight of bleacher steps.
The first race of the series was not in the horse arena, that area was filled with people on horses. Instead, the course was set on an area of deep grass connected to an area of loose gravel. At the start line there was a bit of confusion as to where exactly the first turn was located, this was discussed as we approached the first turn and was quickly sorted out from there.
A strong Norcal field started the race, including Sarah Kerlin, Ann Fitzsimmons, my teammate Haley and the newly-relocated Kerry Barnholt. My strategy was to go out in front and stay there as long as possible; it worked all the way through to the end of the race! Kerry flatted on the first lap, went to her car, fixed the flat and then jumped back into the race. Sarah, Ann and Haley finished in a three up sprint, with Sarah taking the honours.
A good start - hopefully a sign of things to come! In the meantime, check out my new website: www.barbarahowe.com .