In 2023 I was hoping to be a better racer. I spent the winter actually using the gym we have at work, doing time on the stationary bike so as not to lose all my kilometres in my legs. They say you should do strength training and I tried but it’s a pain.

The other thing I did was join a club. Velocity Cycling Club is my new bunch. We have a coach and club jerseys and it’s all a bit more community-building than the lone-wolf cyclist thing I’ve been doing. I went on a couple of group rides and they were fun. The first was about 60km and easy riding. I self-selected to the slow group, and was the only person in it (along with the bunch leader). But it was good. I got to learn about some of the group riding norms and hand signals. Old Paul was very welcoming in general and did a good job showing me how to get close to people in the bunch.

Being part of a club I signed up for another road race. The thought was that maybe it wouldn’t be so lonely out there. I could look for the red jerseys of my people and get some tips. I was in the Citizen category which is the bunch of people who can’t get upgrade points but I think that’ll be more my speed than trying to race against competitive people.

In 2022 I figured out that my bikes are pretty good1 and are not the things holding back my riding; it’s my body. Just going for longish rides when I felt like it wasn’t really giving me more endurance or speed. I’m pretty well aware that I’m just not fit enough to actually race bikes and be competitive. But still, I tried my first criterium and was slow. Consistent but slow. Being part of the team gave me a reason to volunteer for helping with the crit too, which was fun.

Then we came into ‘cross season. I raced four races2 which was less than I was hoping. Wildfires cancelled a couple and I had work and an injury and other issues I needed to deal with. It never really came together the way I would have liked. I did try out the midweek cx racing which was fun, and where I met Sidney McGill, World Cup ‘Crosser.

According to crossresults in 2022 I had a rating of 563.863 and in 2023 my rating was 557.78. So by the numbers I was marginally more successful this year. My best race was better than my best in 2022 (Tubs on Tubs 2023 vs Puncheur Cross 2022) and my worst race in 2023 was also better than my worst in 20224.

My racing aside, the work I did with the ABA CX Cup stats and getting them uploaded into CrossResults was quite rewarding. Our good riders got better call-ups5 at the Pan-American Championships because their ABA results were somewhere the race organizers could use.

I think 2024 won’t see me expanding my racing too much. I will probably still do a few through the summer, maybe a gravel event, and then try for more ‘cross in the fall, especially the midweek stuff.

  1. My hardtail Graymare isn’t great, but upgrading it would be really expensive for the amount and style of actual mountain biking I do. ↩︎

  2. The races were Tubs on Tubs, Jim Horner, Hardcore Hop N Hurl and the second day of Baby Walter Cross↩︎

  3. In their system lower is better. The best in the world have a rating under 100. ↩︎

  4. Both of my bad races involved steep sketchy downhills I wasn’t confident in riding at all. Looks like this is what I’ll be working on for 2024. ↩︎

  5. In cyclocross you get to start closer to the front of the race if you have more points/a better ranking. This makes a difference so you don’t get stuck behind crashes or slowpokes right off the hop. ↩︎