Saturday night was tough. I tossed and turned and rolled and sweat. It was a miserable sleep and the body was doing very strange things after the sincerely violent effort at the Reservoir. However, I was mainly kept awake with a mind that was (still) racing. Still playing out the debacle of the race but I’ll confess that most of what was keeping me up was embarrassment. Embarrassment not from my spectacle on the course, but “after” my race on Saturday. Being an absolute baby when I got back to the tent. Helmet thrown into my bag in anger. For roughly 5 minutes I became that surly guy. The guy I make fun of for being a prick. I am thankful for the buds I have who make fun of me and keep me on the straight and narrow.
The pressure I put on myself is unbearable sometimes. I don’t know why. I just do. I always want to be the best. Do my best. Act my best. It’s just a part of my ball of wax and I am the same way now as I was at the hockey rink, soccer field or BMX track as a kid. I’m an old-ish man now and I am smart enough to know what I need and don’t have yet required to be at the extreme pointy end of the field. So, no excuses. The mind needs to settle itself with confidence in what I can do still. What I can still try to achieve.
Last night was a similar night of restlessness. The mind was infinitely happier given the day at Harlow Platts Park I had, yet the body still was reeling from the effort. Sometime around 3AM, I go for what is like my 5th pee of the night. I happen to see the familiar red blinking light of my CrackBerry summoning me like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I see a note from a dear friend. A racing compatriot. You know who you are! His note was gospel. A father to a father. A racer to a racer. It makes EVERYTHING we do in the grass, on the dirt, over the barriers, with our friends….with our families….a true gift. So, I sat in the quiet and dark and read the note. This excerpt of the note helped me deeply...
Many times your posts speak to my core and help provide that confirmation of life priorities that are so hard to balance. We are passionate about the bike, and especially cross, and it has been an ego check this season as my form fades and the time to train to recapture it fades as well. When the morale is bad it gets pretty easy to come up with excuses to not drive 3 hours each way for a 45 minute race where I will be an “also-ran.” But, my daughter is healthy and happy, my wife is the most amazing person in my world and the glue that keeps it all together, and I have employment in a crappy economy – does where I finish matter? And if it did, would the experience of the race, the course, the people make it not worth it? These demons have taken and will continue to take time to exorcise, but in the end, with all that it takes to keep a job and family rolling, I have re-learned that just “toe-ing” the line and leaving it out there is all you can ask of yourself.
Thank YOU my friend. It’s the realization that I get to toe the line with crazy fast people with crazy fast lives. Crazy deep priorities. Crazily precarious balancing acts. Crazy passion.
Everything. We give all, everything. It can not be any other way. For whatever the individual’s reason, those that I line up with every week have a glow about them and they want to unleash. We only get one chance to do this right. No do-overs. No time to rehearse. Give Everything.
On to the race weekend.
Boulder Cup Day 1: Boulder Reservoir
Week in and week out, Brandon and Jeremiah are there for the BCS team…the largest team each week given the number of racers we have out there in various categories…and they’re out there with the tent set up, tools out…ALL preparations made to ensure all of us are our fastest. In the tent, the 35 Open team was gathering…Pete Webber, Whit Johnson, Brian Hludzinski, Durango native and old Boulder-bro Frank Mapel and myself. We line it up at the venue which was absolutely stunning, Joe DeP, Chris G and the entire crew at DBC Events made a thrilling and unbelievably hard course. It is a HOT day baking in the Indian Summer. Temps in the mid 70’s. Call ups got me in the 2nd row in a big field and I chose Brian Maslach to lead me out. “Get your sprint on, Bri” I plead with him to ensure a tunnel through the field at the start. TWEEET!! We’re off and I am exactly where I want to be. In fact, I keep it together for 2-3 laps flowing in and about the top 10. And then it unraveled….
Did I mention the course was super hard? The DBC crew ensured the best rider would win…and those of lesser capabilities would suffer the consequences. I was the latter. The sand was my nemesis. Each time through was a little worse. A bobble here on the first time through the 175 meters of sand, a washout the next time around, followed by an over the bars the 3rd time….and so on. A degrading spiral that got to my head and became a psychological war which was tearing me down, POW-style, lap after lap. Somewhere mid race, I completely unravel again in the sand and face plant into it. Ass over tea kettle and submerse my SRAM Red lever completely in the beach. I get up and my back wheel is not spinning and I note that the TRP Brake Arm is underneath the rim so I have to hammer it out which it does and works fine. I get back out on the pavement and need to make up ground….so I click click click click…to get to the lower part of the cassette. Nothing. I am stuck in my ‘lowest’ gear, a 25. I am spinning circles like a circus clown so fast and dudes are just dropping me. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. I look up and I see Dubba just smiling…waving his hand as he knows I am screwed. I FINALLY come flying into the pits and he’s there with Challenge Tire’s Donn Kellogg and I throw to him and Dubba hands me my freshie. I jam on it and get into the hunt. Ka PLING! Chain is off! This nonsense happened to me at Wednesday Worlds. Later I’d diagnose that the chain is too long and bouncing up and over my carbon guides. I yell out some F bombs and VeloNews’ Neal Rogers is there warming up…smiling at my unraveling. Ha! To make a long story short, I swing by the pits again and Dubba knows the race is long gone and he yells “Just finish ‘er up and have fun!”. My black rain cloud is forming over my S Works helmet and I eventually finish up, mid pack. Surly like a baby who’s Nuk Nuk fell in dog crap.
I get back to the tent and as mentioned, continue to act like a baby when Whit, Dubba and the gang tell me that Pete won…which began to make me smile, and then both and Mapel lay it out for me…telling me EXACTLY what I need to hear. It’s bike racing. You KNOW you’ll bring it tomorrow. Rob hands me a Brat with some ketchup and a beer after that and I am in heaven. Tomorrow is another day.
Group Shot by Rocky Mountain Surfer
Ass shot and dismount photo above by David Kutcipal.
Check out their extensive pics from the day!
Boulder Cup Day 2: Harlow Platts Park
So with the crappy sleep in me, I still have a sense of calm and this feeling that my legs, while tired, may have something. You always get that doubt in you on back to back days of racing of how your legs will respond to the challenge. I had some sense that things would be all right, even though Harlow Platts forever had my name and would traditionally chew me up and spit me out. Between races I’d pre-ride and the course was SPECTACULAR. All grass save for a tricky yet not as bad at yesterday’s sand section. Tons of twists and turns to power up, and out of sections. Good recovery but you had to be strong, nevertheless. Can I just say HOW SWEET my Grifo XS File Treads were on this course?? If you have't raced them on grass, you are doing yourself an injustice by not having file treads and the Grifos are getting widely distributed here in the US with Donn's pushing.
Again the BCS armada is ready to roll. Same squad as yesterday for the 35 Opens. I somehow get another call up (amazing as I keep sliding backwards!) and settle in behind Webber this time in the 2nd row. TWEEET! We jam out on the long paved climb through the start finish where Dave Towle is out again blaring his beautiful voice to all the racers…every category…all day! Amazing. I find myself in 8th or so which is where I want to be. Matty Opp is on a MISSION and is drilling it. We flow through the first turns, up and over the crowded barrier sections and dive through yet more turns before making our way to the back side and sand. We motor through this tight section and WHAM! In front of me goes down Ward Baker and like 2 other guys and I somehow thread the needle with Jeff Wardell and Pete Webber through the carnage and we are gone. Lap after lap I am holding my position. Dropping some, then getting dropped. It’s tight racing. Good racing. Each lap I made the conscious decision to run the sand and it was 50/50. It was as fast as those riding. Each time I would come by my old family, the Rocky Mounts tent as they were the ‘Sand Pit Party’ for the day for DBC…raking and grooming the pits between each race to re-set the conditions for each category. My wife and boys were out…cowbells and all, yelling their heads off. It was utterly inspiring. Each lap I would maintain my gap on the huge field trying to reel me in and yet the group in front of me was just that wee bit too far away to grab and sit in on. The pressure in my brain was surreal as I wanted a respectable result, and I considered a top 10 in this field to be that. Bell lap and I know I am not going to be able to bridge to Mitch and Glen and think I am in 9th, 10th or 11th based upon the crowd’s feedback as they SCREAMED their heads off at me (such a rush!). As I am nearing the end of my last lap I hear Dave say that Pete had won! A back to back weekend for that boy. I smile but I still need to bury myself as the field of what seems like 10-15 are barreling down on me. I pop out from the grass onto the pavement of the start finish, I turn around, exhausted yet a huge gap to the next group behind me. Safe. Done. I took 11th, near my goal but I’ll take it!
All Day 2 photos above courtesy of Longman. Nice ass, Longman.
Everything. It took everything to get that result. 11th. I left everything out there. I took everything in as I did so. I remembered everything the boys said to me in the tent after the Res Saturday. I wanted to respond and be everything I know I m capable of.
And now, let’s do it again. Next week. Same time. Same channel.
Some photos from my good friend Joe Strandell of Peloton Photo: