Calm Insanity: Cyclocross 2009
This year has been long. And really hard. I’ll just come right out and say that.
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?
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.
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