Calm Insanity: Cyclocross 2009

This year has been long. And really hard. I’ll just come right out and say that.

Hard.

I’ve worked more than I can stand to remember, with the sort of urgency that perhaps only mortgage-laden, non-salaried, self-employed folk with laid-off significant others can appreciate. It was good and hard. Really.

People close to me got sick and then were ok. Things seemed dicey and then stabilized. And through it all I just kept hammering away. I didn’t throw in the towel.

The summer came and with it arrived a new kind of working frenzy that excluded long rides – or any rides at all. I lost fitness and other people got fast. That’s ok, man. There are more years with the bike. There’s more time.

But cyclocross snuck up on me in a way that I did not expect. I looked up from my laptop and it was on top of me. Clamoring.

I didn’t panic. But I was startled.

It was dry and hot in the beginning. And fast. I went and raced because the schedule said that I should, but I suffered. In Seattle at StarCrossed I took my beating like a champ, enduring the onslaught of fitter, faster, more focused riders.

It’s ok. I made great facial expressions that hinted at glory.  I breathed through my nose and narrowed my eyes and pushed my skinsuit further back into my drawer. Skinsuits are for fast people. Maybe that will come out later.

The women’s B field is a fantastic group so, frankly, I’m honored to ride mid-pack among them. Everyone wants to be fast, and maybe someday some of us will get a chance to speed ahead. But at some point you’ve got to realize that this is just bike racing.

It’s like an adult softball league with more expensive equipment, bigger egos, and way more “cool” factor.  It’s important, sure. But it shouldn’t be the thing that determines your self-worth or drive you to fits of insanity.

Besides that, it’s supposed to be fun, right? Remember fun?

Right.

So I’m racing. Man, I’m pedaling as hard as I can and I’m not getting anywhere very fast, I’ll tell you that much.  But in the process, I’m having fun this year. Way more fun that last year. Way more fun that I had in the spring. Way more fun than, well, ever.

The rain came down last week and Hillsboro was muddy. Not epic, but definitely muddy.  We got dirty and smiled and fell and at the end of the race I pulled my bike over and said, “That was fucking awesome!”

That’s how cross should feel.

Whatever I did this year, it was not exactly according to the master plan (that plan had way more saddle time written into it) but sometimes the master plan isn’t the only plan. You gotta relax and take your licks and get mud in your teeth.

Then you pull over and put your fist in the air and say, “That was fucking awesome!”

Because it was.  [And you kick ass even when you're flailing.]

Now, go ride your bike.

Picture 42

Possibly related (automatically generated) posts:

  1. Sweet! Free Tires! (Second place in Cyclocross Magazine’s “Spirit of Cyclocross” Essay Contest) We interrupt our regularly scheduled protein and pull-up report to...
  2. Post-CycloCross Stress Disorder: Someone Turn Off the Cowbells For some people it happens after the holidays. So many...
  3. Death to Chihuahuas: Cyclocross Animal Sacrifice Part Two I had to kill a bird to get the ‘cross...
  4. Kermesse Does Not Equal Cyclocross… … but it does equal awesome. Kruger’s Farm is a...
  5. Cyclocross Lessons from Golden Gate BASP: Don’t Race From the Back Golden Gate Park. Sunny and cold. I have been thinking...

6 comments

  1. “A lot can be said of a pleasurable Sunday out at the races. Some beers, some kicks. Families and Wives sitting out the rain in the
    tents, managing bored kids. Probably dinner somewhere later.

    Something to do around the house. A long shower.

    All of this life. This regular guy stuff. But, at this moment, right here, all I cared for in the world was to cross the line before that other man.

    We had been at war for two miles, breathing like horses. Insane in the mud and regretting every wrong thing I’d ever done:
    Imagined music pounding in my head, and bile in my throat.

    And the mother***r pipped me at the line. He had it. I didn’t.”

    From Gunner Berg”s blog, your article reminded me of it.

  2. Fantastic article Heidi.

    I can completely relate – having had lots of turmoil in the past year or so.

    “Keep Calm and Carry On” is my new motto :)

    Thanks for this…

    Adrian.

  3. Heidi – you are so RAD! You ARE what Cross is all about… thanks for reminding all of us why we are out there, in the mud, with burning lungs, in our skinsuits, slopping through “shit”, clamoring over coffins and doing it all again “tomorrow”.

  4. Boy, “Keep Calm and Carry On” is what I needed to hear. I’m in that group in the 3rd paragraph. I don’t race on bikes. I barely get in the saddle but I definitely love the parallels with life. Carry on Heidi. You made me feel better today.

  5. Love this. Really, really love this. Thanks for capturing the true spirit of cross…..says a girl who sits at her desk too much! Hoorah for training goals and the myriad of normal life adventures, which, so frequently and joyful interrupt a perfect riding schedule.

  6. Thanks for the reminder. It’s easy to get lost in all the training, suffering, numbers, placings, and forget that we do it becuase it’s a blast. It should drive us to fits of clarity. Thanks for the reminder.

%d bloggers like this: