Cyclocross…is…hard. I’ve raced it all, even a little track, and cyclocross is simply the hardest (in my overly biased opinion) to put all the pieces together and do something ‘special’ in a race. To be absolutely pinned for 45-60 minutes, maintaining your smoothness while on the bike under this load, keeping absolutely fluid and efficient when off the bike through barriers and run-ups and finally paying attention to the race as it evolves so you are ‘in it’ to make decisions on what to do to improve your position…is simply mind bogglingly hard. So, the above said and already known to you my cyclocrossing fanatics, I give myself the…
…for week 3 in the elite master’s category here in scenic Frisco Colorado. I think categorically I could not do any of the things I talk about above as it relates to fluidity, efficiency and of course smoothness. In fact, I might as well have raced completely drunk and likely would have had better flow. It was comical and I’m not in a ‘weep with me’ mode here…just expressing how hard it is to continually put all those pieces together and race a great race. I think y’alls know what I’m sayin’, right? So on to the details.
Frisco Day 1:
Frisco traditionally attracts great fields as it is the traditional kick off weekend for many of the racers transitioning from their mountain biking and road seasons into ‘cross. So it’s definitely a reunion of sorts. This weekend saw the arrival of Jon Cariveau and of course “The WB” Ward Baker…both dear friends and known hard men of the sport in the fast old guys group. Also, we saw the true coming out of Mr. Timmy The Truth Faia in his new Boulder Cycle Sport kit and Ridley! A new team mate! The fields were pretty complete and the throw downs would commence.
We launched into our race and essentially picked up from years past. The front group got a split and we moved pretty quickly into getting folks into discomfort. Tim was off the front with Ross and Chris Phenacie super quickly and with a teamie up the road, I merely had to sit in! Brian H and I admittedly sat on The Ozster’s wheel (Mr. Robson) and allowed his immense diesel engine to tow us around. Life is good. Engine feeling awesome. And then…
Doy! I become a total side show act.
Flowing into one of the wood chip S-turn sections I come unglued and dab throwing a chain to the outside. I try to drop ‘er back on by shifting the front derailleur but no joy. I get off, put that mo-fo back on and then go to remount. I slip in the wood chips and essentially spaz out and miss the mount and jack up the seat. I stop again and pound that seat down with my fist. Awesome. Meanwhile….whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh! The chase group is sweeping in upon my carcass like a buzzard dive bombing a dead rotting possum lying on the highway.
I get back up to speed and am pinned to chase on. 10th place. I will fight back up. Another lap around and…
Doy! Whooopish! On the ground again.
I suddenly within a lap un-learned how to handle a bike and forget completely that I am a mountain biker. Front wheel wash out in the wood chips AGAIN. (What’s the definition of insanity?). Two more guys drop me like a bad habit as I collect my retarded spaztic self off the ground and ramp the engine back up.
Round and round I go and I’m racing myself. I come into this apexed corner that sends you up and around this tree and…
Doy! Whooopish! On the ground again.
By this point I am reconsidering bike riding let alone racing as a hobby…sort of laughing. I finish in 15th place, tail between the legs and proceed to have a little stormy rain cloud over my head and act like a total knob (for 15 minutes). That is until I was handed a Mama’s Little Yella Pils which nearly instantaneously corrected my foul and childish mood.
I see Timmy and he’s smiling like the Cheshire Cat having bagged this one and the first for BCS this year. Salvation.
I then get to watch my best buds race the Open race while I shoot pictures and enjoy some adult beverages. Double salvation.
Frisco Day 2:
(Note all pictures below credited to SixDegreesToSlush)
(Note all videos below credited to Dale Riley of Crossin Colorado)
I went to bed restless the night before. Thinking about all the little mistakes…all the willingness to ride smooth and keep fluid. My heart was also racing a bit too given the nearly 11,000 I was sleeping at that night at my friends cabin.
Waking up I felt re-born. Head was really happy and I was determined to ride clean. Think not of places but think of every single lap cleaner and more precise. I needed the mental victory.
Call ups again and I am in the front row. I go out semi-hard to attempt to be in the clear and off the front for Timmy and Brian H to sit in. It’ll be harder with Jon and Chris ready to slay dragons so in my caveman mind, I go and try to string it a bit. The course was better than the day before. More ‘crossy. It utilized many of the same features from the day prior but included a great run up which would prove decisive. Both days had massive elevation changes with actual and LONG-ass climbs. Never ever good for a tank like me but I’d go hard regardless.
So back to those first lap heroics: I proceed to push it too hard into this maze of turns all separated by white Shimano tape. Pre riding I even said to myself ‘whoa, be careful’. Of course bombing into this maze I am like a deer in headlights…utterly confused and I proceed to follow the lines from tires of the day before! Directly into the tape! HA! Essentially I get laughed at and I too laugh pretty loudly as I get dropped untangling myself by the passing freight train of 4-6 folks. Jon C, Robson, Hartman, Farrell, Faia…others all whoosh whoosh whoosh! So not even the first lap and I’ve failed my plan of cleanliness. Doh!
I settle in and just focus on lines and flow. Nothing else. Flow into corners, accelerate out. Precision on flowing into the run up and go hard. Lap after lap. I end up working with Ward, Ryan McFarling and Brian Maslach and others. I can’t cover some of the accelerations but find that I am flowing and way more confident.
Last lap and I push it hard to ensure I am near the group. I know I am feeling better and better as the race wore on and wait until the run up to put in a move. I work the run up with Maslach and we come out pushing hard. A set of grass turns, barriers and a pavement stretch to the finish. Brian pushes me hard all the way to the line for 10th. Battling for 10th! It’s like a frigging knife fight amongst all of us week in and out. Timmy again is sitting there at the line waiting for me high fiving having bagged another one! He fought it out hard with Jon C and Chris for another great BCS effort.
So there ya have it. Week 3 and me ranting already! Ha! Honestly it’s all this that keeps me coming back. It’s the imperfections that must be perfected. When it all comes together….when all that hard work comes together…its what makes it worth it.