You. You are why I come back. You are why I fear many things. Death. Cancer. The Drink. Breaking bones. And yet you are why I decide to do it again every season. Frankly every day. Staying focused and with that focus achieving a balance that lets me do it all over again.
Every time our beautiful leaves change. Every time I see mud. Every time I hear cowbells. We hear them together.
Therefore I can, due to this, exhale. I can breathe calmly as I pin on my number carefully at my car. In the cold beautiful fall air. I am facing away from you and you can not see my smile as I listen to you. I hear your chatter. It is good. It motivates me. It keeps me young.
I hear your voices around me as I make my way through my pre-race rituals. In the pits. As you walk by. Gabbing to yourselves. Laughing. Talking of the corners. Of how you feel. Of tire pressures. Of your great new bike and your new French tires. Your last night. Your last season. Your season to come.
I feel your arm wrap on my back as you say good morning. You don't know it but I’ve logged that moment in my mind to remember when I am old and can not do this any longer. Your arm on me is like water in the desert. It is felt. And absorbed and channeled.
And due to these feelings, you are the reason I write. And the reason I come back to the sport. And the reason I want to do well. The reason I want to be better. The reason I will be arms up some day again.
Above all I thank you.
Today was very rough on my spirit. The crash happened and as we say ‘it is what it is’. It was an unnecessary happenstance. And I wish I could say it was due to the racing and the heat of battle that I went down, but I can’t. But the composure I lost after I hit terra firma in my view was beneath me. So first let me please offer a deep apology to those who witnessed my idiotic acts. The words I chose to use in the heat of the moment were unacceptable as a father, a racer and a community member. I will explain my flood of emotion in a moment but I need for those who witnessed me come undone to hear my apology and know that I give you my deepest apology for words I said in public. You are there on your weekend to have fun and not hear anyone sour the air. It’s frankly why I want to come back every weekend! You are my family. And family should never sully itself.
The day – The Race Action – A Crash – Rebuild again.
Blue Sky: You are amazing. I had results in my In-Box (unfortunately without my name) within a few hours of the race’s finish. The course you prepped and had us race on was so fun, It will be legendary. Each week the designers are OUT-DUELING each other for most memorable course…where the memories are nothing but: “Holy crap, these guys NAILED it!” And Blue Sky just raised the bar. We’ve been racing Xilinx for years and this was without question the most fun I’ve had on the grounds. So, you nailed it. One suggestion: Add one SMIDGEN of length to the course. Just a wee bit on the back South side and you will be golden. Just 1 additional minute. That is IT. No more. Don’t overthink. You’re there.
The 35A’s race was magical. Every single solitary piece I have been working on came together for me personally: Don't win the hole shot/Save some/Watch carefully/Ride Your Race Smoothly/Corner well/Attack wheels… It all just seemed to materialize! No chain was happening. Seeing a target and overtaking him was happening. Being patient was happening. I had every line dialed. From my warm up to executing it during the race, my lines were dialed. Tire pressure DIALED. It was like being on remote control. It was actually quite calming in some super weird way during the race.
Rod ever-faithful captured the course for you, who are far away. Yup. Fun. And Yup, I ran a 34 Dugast Flying Doctor on the front and Typhoon on the back, Money.
Midway through our race lapped riders were present. “On your left!”, and they would gracefully move well clear of the line. Deeper into the race I would overtake folks warming up and could feel it was getting ‘crowded’…as in problematically crowded. Very noticeable in terms of the number of folks getting their taste of the course in while we were racing and honestly the brazen-ness of some warming up was a bit too much for me. As I am racing, I would shout ‘Racer!’ on more than one occasion, and I am thinking ‘shit, they must have head phones in…’ as there was no movement when I‘d shout.
Note, I am thinking not of the race at these moments, but of the non-racer’s warming up for their events.
Coming into a particular section with 2 laps to go I could hear the shouts of racers ahead of me. “Racer! At this point I am flying. I’d just overtaken one particular guy to help me spring board to my team mate who I had a mental lock on to work with. Knowing that with one more interval through this ONE section I have been railing the WHOLE race I am on my team mate, Mark, and we together are going to FLY and move up fast. I heard people shouting for a particular guy warming up at this moment to get out of the way and before I know it I am doing the same. I am on him, shouting at him, taking energy and focus from my race to shout at him and say: “Dude! Out of the line! Outta the line!!!!!”. We are both spooked and I jig hard right then HARD left again to get around the apex of the turn we are both converging on. My tire slips as I am in territory I have NOT been racing on and had NOT warmed up on to find the line. I had no feel for where I was pushed out into and was out of the obvious line we’ve been taking all race.
I’m on the ground…and hear a ‘pop’. Same side as in June when the clavicle snapped. I jump up again like I did that day.
“Holy shit it’s broken! Holy shit its broken! Holy shit I broke it again!” I kept shouting this. To myself. At the ground.
I unzip my skin suit to see if it came through the skin. Nothing. In fact I am pushing hard on the clavicle and…NO PAIN! No movement. Just the same old massive calcification of the break from June. But where is the pain coming from? It’s shooting like a bullet through my shoulder blade. I try to get back on my Ridely. I can’t reach the bar with my left hand. I am trying to literally get my left arm to go forward and grab the hood but it won’t. My race was SO GOOD. I am there! I am having fun! Racing Smart! NOT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I stop. I start to sob. I start to come unglued. I completely fall apart on my hands and knees.
The venom that spouted as I apologize for above is flowing. I need you to know that it was like a purge. As if the fear I have been harboring of falling on this broken bone…and all of the work I put into healing, staying positive and getting fast again…was bottled up and was GUSHING out through my insane eyes and mouth as embarrassing as it is to think about post facto. And I let it rip out between my teeth and mouth. I threw my helmet like a baby shouting at the man who jumped in my line.
I was not me.
Diesel and Phenecie were there. They saw this and guys I am sorry. You are my buds and I want you to see me in another light. I know you do, but I apologize nonetheless.
Since I could train and race again properly in August, I’ve been doing so with a personal vengeance. Yet with this odd fear that was looming…that I waiting for…for what it will feel like to re-fall and re-break my clavicle. I would envision it. Since June I replay the snap! in my ears and mind. I want to win. I want to be one of the fast guys. I want to feel success again as I define it in this case of being first across the line.
Fuck it. It’s happened.
I will stop this line of ranting and idiotic thinking. It’s not positive. It’s not forward. It’s not progress. It’s not improvement. It’s not health. It’s not what I want my boys to learn.
Can’t wait to wake up tomorrow. It’s one day of healing under the belt.
My Thoughts on Warm Ups
We are blessed to have the ACA. These folks bleed cycling from their souls like we all do here. But I think with some small modifications, we could make the racing experience even better. Specifically, I am talking about specific warm up procedures to assist with improving the experience of racers as they get their game on in their event…and all of us who need to experience the course before we race vis-à-vis warm ups on course.
When I raced in Europe, you would NEVER be allowed on course to warm up. I am not sure why we can not replicate that here. A typical weekend of racing in Colorado looks like this categorically:
- JM/W 10-12 8:30
JM/W 8-9 8:30:30 JM/W 15-18 9:00 JM/W 13-14 9:00.30 SM 35+ 9:45 SM 35,4 10:40 SM 45+ 11:35 SW Open 11:35.30 SM Open 12:40 SM 55+ 1:50 SW 35+ 1:50:30 SW 4 1:51 SM 4 2:45 SM 3 3:45 SInglespeed 3:45:30
I am wondering what people would think about offering dedicated warm up times throughout the day…exactly like they do in Belgium and elsewhere, where you need to show up early, be there for the dedicated warm-up time before your event and learn the course. It could be modeled like the above with merely 45 minute difference for promoters to deal with (as they must keep volunteers around for marshaling and course set up/tear down):
- 7:30-8:30 COURSE WARM UP
JM/W 10-12 8:30 JM/W 8-9 8:30:30 JM/W 15-18 9:00 JM/W 13-14 9:00.30 9:30-9:50 COURSE WARM UP
- SM 35+ 9:55
SM 35,4 10:50 10:55-11:30 COURSE WARM UP SM 45+ 11:35 SW Open 11:35.30 12:20-12:50 COURSE WARM UP SM Open 1:00 2:05-2:20 COURSE WARM UP SM 55+ 2:25 SW 35+ 2:26 SW 4 2:26:30 3:15-3:30 COURSE WARM UP SM 4 3:30 SM 3 4:20 SIngle speed 4:20:30
I am thinking through this out loud…and with you as my friends…but think the filed sizes and the number of people DYING to get out and try the course is exceeding our capacities. All race promoters NEED more volunteers (and in volunteering YOU get to pre ride as much as you like while YOU make the course!) and we need LESS people taking up space while racers are on course.
My Thoughts on Picking Up the Pieces…Again
I think I’ve said enough above. 46TXT’s and 22 phone calls. I am in shock. I was not heli-lifted from the scene…nor do I have a life threatening disease. You care enough to ask me what’s up and I love you infinitely for that. It makes me go fast. Today is Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday and I will see how I feel. I’ve been through this before, and will not deviate from my path of ‘having fun’. This is merely a trivial road block.
When you get up tomorrow morning and that garage door opens flooding in the light on your bikes and equipment, be giddy. Get excited. Feel like it will be your day. Your SMOOTHEST day. Or your ONE day without a mechanical or crash. Or YOUR day to be on the podium. There’s so many races within a race. Make your race your best. Let it star with that first gulp of cold air you feel and the first light as it exposes your equipment when that door opens.
Race your race. Be happy. Smile. Clench your fist and look at the folds in your skin as it get's tighter and you say..