The first Dirty Deeds skills session was held on Saturday at my personal favourite CX location, Darebin Parklands.
For a misty Melbourne morning it was great to have a bunch of enthusiastic women arrive all kitted up and ready to go. Some were experienced riders who had participated in last year's season. Others were brand new to cyclocross and were sporting nervous smiles.
Setting off for a couple of warm up laps
To get the legs moving we set off for a couple of laps around the park on a route that would have been all too familiar to those who had raced here last year. There was a distinct lack of mud which although meant no slipping and sliding practice, did allow us to go home with clean bikes.
With the warm up done it was time to get down to the technical stuff. For most people, cyclocross barriers are the most daunting part of the race. So with the aim of breaking it down into achievable parts we set about practicing dismounts, lifting the bike, and running remounts. Once everyone had had a chance to practice we put all the steps together and collectively launched ourselves at the portable barriers (thanks Blakey).
Sweet barrier technique
Local park users checking out the action
I had expected the two-hour session would be mostly taken up with barrier practice but the group picked it up so quickly that we staged some mock starts to get used to riding in a bunch. These proved to be great fun as we raced down the grass to perform a tight turn around a marker (thanks again Blakey!) to ride back up over the barriers.
Mock race - cornering with intent
By this time the sun had come out and arm warmers were being thrown aside en masse. To finish off the session we completed another couple of laps of the park and tested out new skills along the way.
What a way to spend a Saturday morning! We were thrilled to have such a great turn out and to be kicking off the season with such an enthusiastic bunch of women. There is quite a buzz surrounding women's cyclocross at the moment and we are hoping that will translate into a record number of entrants in this years Dirty Deeds events.
Big smiles after a successful training session
A big thanks to Dirty Deeds committee member Nik Cee and local CX legend Lewis Rattray for their guidance on technique and all things cylcocross. Lewis even gave us a run down of the professional women's cyclocross scene in Europe - inspiring stuff. Thanks also to Blakey for the words of encouragement and sweet pics.
Details of the next skills session will be announced shortly so keep on eye on the blog. Hopefully those who couldn't make it to the first session will be able to come out next time. The session will be open to everyone as well as any juniors wishing to get some practice in. We will continue to provide barrier coaching as well as developing run-up and shouldering skills and general bike handling skills.
Anyone keen to organise some impromptu training sessions/rides should let us know at DDCX headquarters and we can get the word out.