Part of my off season plan is to expand my horizons when it comes to biking. This means spending time with my new mountain bike; both on single track and cruising on the whatever dirt/gravel roads I can find. My hope is that I will find a good way to keep biking this winter without cowering inside to the trainer too much.
Last week, I participated in my first Crazy Bastard Cross ride. The group rides out of Townsend Park about a half hour drive away in Cannonsburg. I heard about the rides through some friends and had been wanting to check it out. The ride starts at 6:30PM so everyone is required to have working lights. The group sticks together for safety and rides gravel/dirt roads almost exclusively.
First, why “Crazy Bastards”? Well, the story goes, “On one cold night ride a driver pulled up and asked us where we were going. "Wherever we want" someone in the group replied. "Crazy Bastards!" is what she said, giving the group its name.”
I showed up just before 6:30 and found a group of about 25 riders. Most riders were on mountain bikes but a few riders were on CX bikes (kind of a cross between a mountain bike and road bike). We started off at a comfortable pace but after 5 miles, a group led my the CX-ers took off separating the pack into two groups. I was determined to hang with the first group. At one point I looked down and was averaging 23mph and still falling off the back of the group. I eventually managed to latch back on to the group.
I spent a large chunk of the ride in the middle or back of the pack knowing that if I got out front, I would only end up cooking myself. It is by far the hardest I have ever ridden in my life. At mile 25, I thought we were almost done when someone announced that there was still over 5 miles to go (ended up being 8 miles). I wanted to cry. haha. My legs and lungs were burning and I was cooked. Thankfully I had a couple of guys to work with and we took turns sucking wheel and holding on for dear life. My legs were still like jelly the next day.
It was a blast though. Riding in the dark was an absolutely amazing experience. While it might sound dangerous, I never once felt unsafe. Because we stuck to the back roads, we saw maybe a dozen cars the entire night. Plus, with everyone’s lights, we are as bright (if not brighter) as a car. I realized that I need some better lights for myself, but with all the lights out there, I didn’t have to worry about it.
Next up, single track. I’ve been both practicing and reading about technique. Stay tuned!