Fiona Millburn is a cyclocross racer from Sydney. Fiona spent her 2015 travelling across Europe and North America, playing mechanic for her husband, Garry Millburn. Fiona will be sharing some of her CX knowledge with us throughout the 2016 season. Her first article for us can be found here.
Cyclocross is a unique sport, and I feel like you either love it or you don't get it! And I say that because everyone I know who has raced CX usually gets pretty excited about it, and those who haven't raced just haven't figured out how awesome it is yet.
I am a fairly recent convert to CX. I’ve been an On > Off rider for years, however my off times could last for months (dare I say a year). Then we would plan a holiday to the Dolomites or Alps and I would start riding again, in the hope I would survive when Garry would convince me to ride up Alpe d'huez or around the Sella Ronda.
I occasionally rode and raced MTB's but never really felt a strong passion for it. Then CX started to become a bit of a thing. My husband was racing and after a couple of years of spectating and wrenching for him when he raced in Belgium, I decided to give it a shot.
The first races started with me borrowing bikes here and there from friends or just super rad people who would lend me a bike because they were stoked on getting people racing CX. My first "season" was pretty much borrowing a cx bike and only riding when I was racing. I didn't care if I came last because I was having a great time and meeting some awesome people.
Just before we went overseas for 8 months I got my very own CX bike. While overseas I began riding a little bit more, using it as my road bike as well as my cx bike. There was so much racing in the US and it was epic, so I ended up racing quite a bit. I was racing cat 4, I wasn’t very fit…or that good, but I loved being elbow to elbow racing all these other women.
Somewhere in all of that, probably because I was #livingthedream and not working I decided I was actually going to start training and racing. When we came home back to Australia it was summer and I had plenty of time on my hands, it was the perfect combination to ride loads and be motivated. The first couple of local races have been run and I’m stoked to have been on the podium, even hitting the top step a couple of times. I raced my first big race on the weekend in Mt Beauty and Bright and was pretty happy to get top 10 finishes on both days. I can see the effort and dedication I have put in over the past 4 months is making a huge difference to my performance.
So, that’s my cycling story in a nutshell.
Why do I love Cyclocross? Here are my top 5;
- The people are amazing. The riders, the clubs, the spectators. I have never experienced more of a community atmosphere than at CX races. Everyone talks to everyone and if you are a new face expect a lot of hellos. There is encouragement, cheering and plenty of banter from the sidelines.
- The racing is hard and fast. You will push yourself like you have never imagined possible. I remember after my first CX race I saw my average heart rate was 186bpm for over 40mins, I didn’t even know it was possible…I now know an average of 196 bpm is also possible! That all out, nothing left to give feeling, at the end of a race is really satisfying.
- It is FUN! Some of my favourite races are when it’s muddy and raining, because when else do you get to ride around in the mud and not care that you are getting dirty!
- The challenging nature of the courses. CX has a lot of skill involved, from mastering cornering, bunny hopping, dismounting, remounting, running with your bike…the list goes on. I wasn’t great when I started but every race I see myself getting better and that is a rad feeling.
- Cyclocross makes people happy! The first time racers, the kids racing on the mini CX course, the people just coming across the finish line…everyone is smiling, laughing and having a great time.
Images used courtesy of Jeff Curtes, Andy Rogers, and Jake Thomas.