October 22 was the second annual UTCX Cross Out Cancer fundraiser benefiting the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Livestrong. As you may remember from a post a few months ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time earlier this year, so it seemed that Cross Out Cancer would be another good event for me to participate in.
After competing in my first cross race a couple of weekends ago, I was feeling pretty good going into the event. It was held at Wheeler Farm in Salt Lake City, where I arrived about 40 minutes prior to my race start time to get in a couple of warm-up laps and to become familiar with the course. I quickly learned that this course was going to be A LOT more challenge then the course I had previously raced.
Along with the challenge, though, came some amazing riding. The course was complete with some beautiful single track, a terrible sand pit and, of course, some barriers and run ups.
Let me tell you a little more about the sand I mentioned above. This sand was brutal! I have never ridden through sand before, and it surprised me how difficult it really was. There were a number of riders who had no problem handling their bike through it, but I was not one of them. And despite having put a lot of miles on my legs this year, I have not ran at all. I hate running; perhaps my favorite thing about riding my bike is that I am not running, but during this race at the sand I had to run. I shouldered my bike and ran what felt like a mile but was probably closer to 100 yards (if even that long).
On the second lap, my cheering section was standing right alongside the sand. As I dismounted and shouldered my bike, I heard my mom yell, “Come on Paul, don’t let that sand slow you down!” And let me tell you, even at 27 years old, I still never want to let my mother down. So I gave it all I had.
I have heard it said many times that cyclocross is all about the suffering, and I will be the first to admit I reached my suffering point and loved it. Cross racing is great. The atmosphere at the UTCX events is very laid back and welcoming. If you have never given cross a try, I highly recommend it. But beware: it is extremely addicting.
Special thanks to Brent Asay for the photos from Cross Out Cancer.