As many of you know I, along with several team mates participated in the IronCross Cyclocross race this past weekend. Mike Maher (Cyclocross Bike), Alex Cox (Mountain Bike), Brian Hopkins (Cyclocross Bike), Myself (Cyclocross Bike) and a recent friend of mine, Peter Buck (Single Speed).For those of you not familial with what a Cross bike is, it is basically a road bike with wider knobby tires.and a single speed bike only has one gear. So a brief course description. The race had a mass start then headed into a field that was set up as a standard cyclocross course set up in a field with twists and turns and obstacles then out onto the 63 mile course ( which is actually more than that according to my calculations closer to 66 miles). The course took us out a dirt/gravel road and eventually onto a tar-chip road.this was the beginning of the climbing. The course consisted of many dirt/gravel and fire roads with a fair amount of technical single track and to those of us on cross bikes the several miles of paved roads were a sheer pleasure.The twisty gravel road decants at 44 mph were hair razing at times (Just ask Mike) but allot of fun. Now as many of you know,cyclocross racing usual involves getting off your bike a couple of times due to obstacles or run-ups. A run up is a part of the course where you shoulder your bike and run up a hill. Might I say that the guys that organized this race took that one step further with the 2 back to back rumpus at pretty close to the middle of the course witch I dubbed Insult and injury. The first so called run up was a power line. I know what you are thinking, You have seen many power lines around the area, cleanly mowed, usually a motorcycle or 4 wheel trail ascending them, not these ones. Maybe Billy goat trails.Steep and rocky better describe the first plod up. I watched people take 2-3 steps stop put their bike down then start the same process over again. I' not sure how long it was but let me tell you it was plenty long enough. Now you finally reach the top of injury and look on to insult. so you remount your bike and ride approx 200 yards and ascend insult. Now this run up want nearly as bad as the first. It did appear that at sometime something might have driven up it but long before all of the large stones and rocks were put there. the third run up was just a road that was too steep to ride. Now you are all probably wondering how the race went. Mike and Alex did rather well although Alex did have some road rash at the end of it all. Brian and I finished together a little later in the day and Pete actually passed Brian and I about 12 miles from the finish like we were standing still (on a single speed). My race went pretty much how I figured it would, actually a little worse. As many of you know I am as passionate a archery hunter as a cyclist so unfortunately cycling kind of takes a back seat to hunting this time of year. Needless to say my fitness isn't what it usually is as well as the fact that as a fanatical archery hunter I have probably been somewhat dehydrated for the past month.. So the race starts and all is going well. I had a plan to take it easy knowing that I really wasn't prepared to race this course hard but my competitive nature wouldn't let me not try to do as well as I could, so as we started through the true cyclotrons portion of the course I feel my heart starting to beat funny (as may of you know I have exercise induced atria fibrillation), so I backed off a little and started to feel better and off onto the course. I was feeling pretty good so decided to bridge up from the group I was in to a group further up the road which I soon caught but was soon to pay for on the long climb we were starting to ascend. so I just kind of settled in and found a rhythm.We road along a long time on fire roads and Gravel Road descents and I started working with another rider and we started catching many people and was really feeling better than I expected. sot after a while we went off road onto the technical single track. It is amazing to me how well a cross bike handles the rougher terrain but it handles quit well. Not far into this section I caught Brian and passed him. His off road skills need a little work. then on through the woods down a pretty steep rocky descent and eventually back onto a paved road. I didn't wait for Brian at this point because I new if that when we got to some more climbing he would catch me. We reach a checkpoint ant they tell us we are 25 miles in and I cant believe it. I still feel pretty good and we are almost half way there.So we turn off the pavement and head toward and of section leading to insult and Injury (the back to back rumpus). At this point I start to feel a little cramping in my legs but no big deal at this point. As we approach insult I cant believe my eyes but up I go ( So this is what mountain climbing is like), passing many people along the way. I here Brian yell at me from the bottom so I waited for him at the check point at the top. I take on a little food and water we get on our bikes and start out again only now the cramps in my legs are getting worse. I don't know if you have ever had your inner thigh muscle cramp up on you before, but I cant even explain the amount of pain they produce. You stretch them one way and they pull the other. But at this point I had to ignore them because I was only half way through and I wasn't going to quit. So up insult I climb and back onto the bike. I spun through the cramps and was feeling alright. We got onto some more Gravel roads and back onto some pavement and the more I spun the better my legs felt so I figured that I was out of the woods. It wasn't long until we headed back to gravel roads and some more off road stuff and every time I had to exert any real force to the pedals my legs would start to cramp again so I switched to survival mode. easy on the hills and spin the flats and descents. All in all I'm glad that I did the race and look foreword to doing better next year.It was the hardest race I have done to this point in my life and hope that I'm able to do other races of this caliber. Some things I did learn from the experience: Don't wait until the week before a race to try to get your bike dialed in. Spend more time on the cross bike off road. Stay well hydrated leading up to the race. Continue to train and prepare for upcoming events. Don't eat at Denny's Restaurant the night before a race. one more thing. Dont plan on going away to race on wifes BIRTHDAY!!!!