When you dismount from the cyclocross bike prior to hurdling the barriers, there are two ways to do it.
You can unclip your right leg, swing it around the back of the bike, stand on the left pedal, and then twist your left foot outward as you land with a heavy thud on your right foot and start running. Or, in classic European form, you can repeat those steps to the point where you swing your leg around, then slide your right foot in front of the left foot between your left leg and the bike frame, twist your lower body ever so slightly, and land your right foot mid-stride, as you hit the ground running.
Me? I prefer the first method because even when I'm dead, bone tired in a race, I still have enough impetus to twist hard and get my left foot out of the pedal before I eat shit. The other way always gives me a slight twinge in my left knee, even when I execute it perfectly. It also gives me visions at night of Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstructive surgery. Although it's the classic Euro pro way of dismounting, I don't even aspire to doing it.
Tonight was the first night of cross practice. It went pretty well. Given my general ricketyness in back and leg joints, I had some concerns. Lucky for me, Sven was leading things and half the crew were getting ready to head to the mountains for the SM 100. So tonight was about knocking the rust off, and man, was there ever some rust on me. Mainly we did a lot of reps of dismounts and remounts, and talked some about carrying. That was it - and that was enough.
Along the way a couple things became clear. One was that I can baby my tender left ankle by dismounting more aggressively. It's very simply - dismount slow, or with a half stride, and the ankle joint - belonging to the second foot to hit the ground - takes a huge hit. Dismount fast, extending the left leg fully and hitting the ground in stride so that the foot strikes in a rolling, running motion, and there's almost no shock to the joint at all. Go easier by going harder... hmmmm... that's definitely a Zen type of thing. Very crossy.
Furthermore, the back seems to loosen up with the run & jump cross activity. Who'da thunkit?
Finally, I have this interminable stutter step in my remount. It's embarassing. It will be the work of a season to get rid of it, I suspect. This would be a good thing. In a cross race, there are only two or three things I can do to get the drop on smaller racers - outhandle them in sketchy traction circumstances (because when you're born sliding due to your weight/traction issue, a little slide in a race isn't a big deal); overpower them on smooth flats and downhills (almost not worth the effort if there's an uphill at the end of it); and, run past them at the barriers. I manage to be fast at the barriers not because I'm good but because I run them hard, with conviction. It will take reps to add some smoothness to that and pick up some more speed.
The bottom line for this workout is that it was a confidence builder. I didn't go hard, didn't do much, but sort of tested the ankle, back and courage level. They are all there, in tact though the courage was a little low at first.
Next week, we go harder.