The Alberta Bicycle Association Cyclo-cross Cup begins this weekend with the Tubs on Tubs race and the Velocity CX and I am excited.

These races take place at Strathcona Science Park, which is a five minute ride from my house, so it’s my closest thing to a “home” race and where I do most of my ripping around on grass to practice ‘crossing. The other day I was out there and saw someone else also riding around on the grass and flagged her down. Turned out she was one of the race organizers planning out the course.

One thing that’s different from the 2022 edition of the race is that they’re including the big downhill and then the stairs coming back up. This was in the course in 2019 when I did my first race and I was terrified of that downhill and felt like my heart was going to explode on the stairs. This year though, I’m preparing.

A rider approaching the stair run-up in Strathcona Science Park1

I’ve done that stair-climb five times in a row on successive days to get used to it, to make a plan. My shouldering technique isn’t great but I know which version I need to use to climb those stairs most efficiently for me. I know I can climb the hills that come after the stairs, and I have a main line on the descents that I’m comfortable with. Right now my biggest problem is clipping in after the stairs, which requires me to be in the right gear when I get off the bike at the bottom.

But practice makes progress.

  1. A rider approaching the stair run-up in Strathcona Science Park while another rider is already underway. ↩︎