Done and Done, folks. The season is finished and now I am really looking forward to just coasting for a while. I thought a lot about what I wanted to write here and I think if I abstract it all out and up, it boils out to never, ever saying uncle. Ever. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Road tripping is a lost art. When I say I had more fun this weekend than what seems like the past 5 years, it is an understatement. I have never laughed as hard as I did this trip due to Ward Baker, Paul Maude and of Course Aaron Boups Bouplon. There were moments when I came undone laughing that the minivan was about to go into a ditch let alone the frolics we had on the course…and in the bars of lovely Kansas City. Thanks boys. My soul needed that more than you realize.
• Everyone should road trip at least once a year. This is mandatory for the soul and should absolutely be part of your training program.
• I have never raced as poorly as I have in what feels like a decade. But I won’t bitch here (see below).
• The performances of Dubba, Andy Jacques-Mayne, Katie Compton and Ryan Trebon were so awesome in how they crushed the fields, it was a spectacle.
• I’m not ashamed to be from Colorado…even though Wicks called us a bunch of poseurs. I’ll chalk that up to the après-race beers, Barry. Ha!
• Jamey Driscoll blew my mind with his ride. Unbelievable and meeting him for the first time this weekend and meeting him showed me yet again another core/good person that is getting it done in the right ways. He’s going to blow some shit up in the next 3-5 years.
• My name was shouted at every bend and apex of the course during my race. Here I am 12 hours from my house and folks I’ve never even met are screaming their guts out at me to go faster. I’m honored and embarrassed at the same time. I wished I could have made my carcass go faster.
• I’ve never been on a cross course with that much climbing. Jeebus it hurt. Don’t get me wrong….the course was great and beautiful, but the antithesis of a course I could ever be good on. No one could hide this weekend.
• File treads work in the mud!
• I love cyclo-cross. I love cheering for cyclo-crossers.
OK, so to the race and details of the weekend. I drove the 10 hours from Boulder to KC on Friday and we went directly to the course before the hotel. The warm up was…..tough. Without saying much to my buds, I knew that my legs were empty. No spring…no punch. Don’t know why, and it’s not important, but I felt nicht so gut. Saturday, race day, we had decent weather. I’d say absolutely perfect cross weather. The course was dry(ing) and it was this interesting mix of soft earth mixed with grass. The days before were debacles of mud leaving juniors running and some in tears. By the time Saturday came around, it was an entirely different course than what they experienced. It radically changed in texture. You literally sank in to the course, without any mud actually getting on you. It was surreal. Never been on a course quite like that. I think it was mainly due to the compacted grass that acted like a sponge. So imagine riding on a wet sponge…on a course that was straight up…then straight down. The funny part about it all, though, was that I ran file treads. They were perfect for the course, hooked up and cornered perfectly in fact, yet still did nothing for the sinking….especially for my large corpse.
My call up was mediocre. I was 41st (4 rows back) and funny enough that’s exactly where I’d end up. From the gun, I settled into mid 30’s and by the 2nd lap, I’m going nowhere. I would suffer like hell on the climb up the courses front face and once at the top, every lap, pass like 3-5 dudes on the running section and even more on the downhill (which was super fun and not unlike a dual slalom course!) only to be passed by them again on the climb. Quite funny actually. I was not strong enough to attack or preserve my position on the climb which was simply too hard for me. Simple as that. Like I said, no hiding on this course and only those strong enough….and strong enough mentally to dig in and attack….could move up.
On to the sappiness portion: Never Say Uncle. This year has categorically sucked for my wife, family and I. Again, the sheer fact I even lined up at the races I was able to this year I am ecstatic about. But while the sickening embarrassment of my ride was occurring on Saturday with all these people I don’t even know personally cheering for me like I was their own brother, I would get another pedal stroke down and move my body up the mountain. It’s as simple as that. I wanted to be top 20 this year. There, I said it. I know I have it in me and likely even a better ride, but not this past Saturday. I would close my eyes as I was climbing and suffering and knowing I am going backwards, knowing I would be embarrassed and then I’d hear it again: GO KELLER! Or C’MON M & C!!! Or HUP HUP GREG!!! Another turn of the cranks. Another few meters. One position preserved.
There will be times in life where the call will be to acquiesce. But, when you have control over the situation, even when you are cross-eyed and utterly embarrassed, you have to push on. For some, they fear that others will see their name in the results….and way down. They think these things during the race yet have the audacity to pull the plug and crawl off the machine. Call it a day. Call it a ‘training ride’. Those, Barry, are the fucking poseurs. My father would tell me to take my medicine. Take what’s coming to me and learn. Don’t hide. Don’t quit. Simply said, how to you explain quitting to a 6 year old? That’s all that need be said. Never let anyone see you quit. Go until your eyes bleed and some official has to physically remove you.
After our race, the gang and I got our beer on and celebrated. We cheered like crazy people for all those getting their Nationals on. Henry Kramer, Jeff Wardell, Jon Cariveau, Brooke Watts, Karl Kiester....my GOD we were pumped for you. It was INFINITELY more fun than my own racing!
Sunday was awesome. The racing and of course après party was epic. After watching the Elite Men from the pits (I was working for Baker, Boups and Dubba) and yelling at all my hombres like Ryan and Ben….but especially Timmy J and Jeremy as hard as I could (can’t speak today), we all communed in this Irish Pub to get our party on. Drinks were had, frolics played out. It was a fitting end to the season. Tim, thanks for dragging me into your Irish Car Bomb session. Priceless.
So, this is the end of the season and likely my posts will wane a bit as I focus on other things that need focus. It’s been a great season all things considered and once again I am in debt to all of you that read my rants. And it was unbelievable to meet so many of you at Nats this year. I’ll keep ranting…er ah,…writing, if you keep reading.
More photos coming later in a collage of sorts. Stay tuned. Thanks to Longman for most of the racing photos you see above.