It's pretty much official: There will not be a separate womens' singlespeed category at Cross Crusade this year. Brad Ross, the series promoter, had suggested earlier this summer that it was "not likely", and yesterday one of his assistants confirmed that this pretty much meant a solid "no".
I'm not surprised. One of the OBRA officials had told me in the spring that adding another category to either the womens' or singlespeed/masters' races would be a logistical hassle because of how large the start fields at Cross Crusade are. The opening race at PIR short-track this summer had around 350 racers in all categories. The opening Cross Crusade race at Alpenrose last fall saw over 1400 racers, plus another 1200 spectators; tracking another category would've driven the official cross-eyed crazy. So I'm very sad, but I DO understand. I may try to grow womens' interest in singlespeed in other ways but I am still researching that avenue.
Meanwhile, I must now select a category to race in -- still on my singlespeed bike, because that's what I've got and, well, there's no money or space to add another race bike to the stable anyway. So what to do?
Racing with Beginner Women again would be allowed. Women in my age group (45 and over) are not required to cat up unless they are winning every single Beginner race they enter. However, because I've had what looks like some tiny measure of success in a faster category at short-track this year -- an ability to race almost every week of the series, plus a medal at OBRA championships -- going back to Beginners may feel a little like sandbagging to me. (It may look a little like that to others, too; but that's less important at this point. Mostly, it would feel a bit like having to repeat second grade and I don't really want to do it.)
Racing with Master 45+ Women would be VERY hard, even harder than racing with singlespeed women, because the field would be bigger, and all of them would be on geared bikes; and because masters racers are really fast. I would have my head handed to me every week. On the plus side, the start field will be smaller than Beginners, and I'd be getting schooled by my peer group instead of by women who are young enough to be my kids.
Racing in the Singlespeed category would pretty much defeat the very reason I wanted to establish a womens' singlespeed category in the first place. I'd be racing with 300 men who would basically flatten me. I may as well just pay twenty bucks to throw myself under a bus with knobby tires. Naaaah.
Another plus point: although catting up at short-track meant I was suddenly thrown in with MUCH faster riders, it actually was good for me. On some micro-level I definitely felt pushed more to hang in there, and also learned a lot by watching these faster, more experienced racers approach the courses. By the end of the season I felt like I was finding better lines and managing rough sections with a little more confidence than I had been back in June. That confidence served me well at OBRA stxc, when the course was impossibly rough (OMG!) but I still managed to beat another woman off the line (and forced her to pass me in the very tough washboard section). Little things, to be sure, but I noticed them and they did add up to a positive experience for me.
So I will probably just race my age group at Cross Crusade, and learn all I can from the experience.
I had hoped to begin spin classes this week but scheduling has proven challenging. With High Holidays taking up the next three weeks of my life it will be tough to squeeze in a class, so I am once again relegated to making up my own interval plan, which has proven very difficult without any guidance. Still, I have to do something to improve myself. So today it will be another trip on the cargo bike, hauling stuff for the shop and maybe altering my route to take in part of Sabin hill on the way home. Then tomorrow I can take it easier, go multi-modal, as a way to rest and recover. I still don't know how to train, exactly, but anything really focused is just going to have to wait until after Yom Kippur.
The updated Cross Crusade schedule, with all locations and dates, is due to be posted this weekend, with registration to open shortly thereafter.