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Published on November 06, 2018

Kelly Thurman at cyclocross race

#TryItTuesday: Biking Over Barriers

We’re all at different fitness levels, but one thing we all need once in awhile is a change of pace.

I’m not very athletic. I keep fit mostly by running, but in the last few years I’ve been doing more biking because I can do it with my family.

Earlier this spring I bought a new bike that’s good for cyclocross. It’s a type of bike race on a looped course that’s mostly grass and wooded trails. There are lots of tight turns and a few obstacles thrown in to keep it interesting.

If you think you wouldn’t be able to do that on your bike, that’s OK – neither can I! When you need to, you jump off your bike, pick it up and get over or up or whatever you’re trying to do.

Last year I went to the local Elmwood Forest Cyclocross by Falls Area Bicyclists in Sioux Falls with my friend because they had a kids’ race, which my oldest son did. He had a blast and we knew we’d be back again this year. With a new bike of my own, the pressure was on to get into the race myself.

If my son can do it, I should give it a try too, right?

In October, I headed to Elmwood Cyclocross again, but this time as a first-time racer. I was nervous that I would:

  1. Fall (I did)
  2. Get in people’s way (I tried not to, but did)
  3. Come in dead last (Roger that)
  4. Not be able to finish (I finished!)

You know what? I still had fun and got to spend the day trying something new with my son. Here’s what I learned at my first race:

  • I found a sport where nobody cares if you fall. In fact, they encourage it. Thankfully, you’re never going too fast so that helps.
  • This will help with your bike handling skills.
  • If you like cycling, you can do this sport. I’m not fast or particularly good on a bike and I still had fun. Races are divided into different categories according to your experience.
  • I had to get off my bike. A lot. And I didn’t care. Each loop I got a little better and that was good enough for me.
  • As my friend told me: there is no wrong way to do it. The goal is to finish as many loops as you can during a set time (30 minutes for beginners) and it doesn’t matter how you move forward as long as you stay on the course with your bike.
  • It made me feel like a kid again (once I got past the nerves).
  • It’s family friendly. Little toddlers were out with their parents zooming all around.

sam thurman in cyclocross raceSam Thurman

The best moment was watching a 7-year-old drag his bike up a set of stairs to the loudest cheering I’ve ever heard. It gives me the feels just thinking about it – and how proud he must have been at the end of the race.

If you’re interested in trying cyclocross there’s probably an event near you. Just search online for local races. They usually take place in fall and early winter. If you’re not sure, go watch a race and cheer people on, or find an easier single-track bike trail in your community and give it a try.

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