Ah the mid-season doldrums. We…or at least I…am in the middle of them. Some dudes can just keep drilling it weekend in and out (ahem…my boy Michael). Amazing stuff. Me? No way. This is a 5 month racing season, intensely packed with racing on every single weekend from September to January. It’s incredibly different than, say, a road or MTB season where athletes have specific targeted events spaced weeks if not months apart. The cross season demands you stay sharp every single weekend and given my whacked mental state, that is decidedly problematic. It takes its toll on the body, mind and family. And right now is that exact point in the calendar where it’s either throw up my arms and cascade downhill or be smart and focus ahead, restore what the body needs and re-pack the powder. I could feel the floor start to drop out the last month while racing and so, put my tail between my legs and pedaled through…trained through as it were…so I can feel fresh later in the season, do my best to rip it and have smile with my buds.
I toed the line at Westminster stoked for many reason. The course was radically fun, there was tons of grass to drive on, the weather was insanely beautiful and our dear friends, the Ball family, were in tow for the Holidays from CA and they came to watch. Joe was my old teammate back in the day and he and I used to have a boat load of fun ripping the Surf City and CCCC series back when we had fewer gray hairs.
Joe (front) and me taking a feed from our bud Bob.
My focus on the day was to gain some confidence back. Put in good efforts and ride clean.
Almost a year ago exactly, I wrote a post. And re-reading it this week it made me smile. Oh, and I rolled my own eyes a bit as well at my own idiocy. I had the the type of moment reading it where I saw my own pattern of tail chasing and I questioned lots.
Bike racing for me as of late was becoming a chore. A fairly large void where I was heaving tons of my own energy, emotion, money and of course free time into. Bike racing is hard and it is a
sport lifestyle where what you put in you get out. And yet the system doesn’t operate like an ATM. Card in/cash out. It’s much more discerning over its participants than that.
It all seemed to spin sideways as of late culminating in questions of what am I up to.
My own zeal for balance the last month is flying in the breeze like a tattered old flag. A once proud standard whose colors are fading and nearly unrecognizable for what they were intended to represent. I read a post recently from my friend Jonny in New England who is even more deeply questioning his motives as of late. Or posts about fit Masters losing their lives in pursuit of what they love. But pushing these extreme examples aside, why move forward? I am Type A (++++ …there I said it out loud) and want to crush it in most everything I do in this life and is likely the inner burning core having kept me pinning numbers on weekend in and out for more than a decade in this game of ours. Wanting to raise my own hands again like I’d done in the past. Assure my own fragile ego that I can still go and go well. Be one of the ‘fast guys’.
But is that it?
I wear my heart on my sleeve as everyone knows. My moping around and 1/2 training these last few weeks were obvious to my friends and family. Blah blah blah…not going well. Blah blah blah…such and such an injury. Blah blah blah…too much stress with building a business and not knowing if you’re gonna make it.
“So, are you going to hang it up this season?” I was asked. I would have asked me the same thing…mainly so I could shut me up hearing my blah bah blahs.
And then it popped into my mind so suddenly. So clearly and obviously.
“Dude, fuck no man!” My response was undeniable. Clear. Instinctive. Refreshing for my own ears to hear. “What would my kids think?” I continued.
My racing has sucked this past month. So what. My friends are the best on earth, and honestly, they have their own life stuff to deal with and somehow they continue to push on and come back every weekend. Some winning. Some smiling coming in mid pack. I am not racing for me any more. I am slaving in the cold, compartmentalizing my work and other aspects of my life so I can be positive. So I can stay true to the
sport community which my sons are falling in love with it and remain positive for the boys and girls I help coach at Boulder Junior Cycling. So I can stay true to an ideal of sticking with it. Not yielding when the only thing that is getting damaged is ego.
In the end, you train through. You continue to push if you love something and you fundamentally think it is worth your efforts. And I do. How I do. I do not know if I will ever win a bike race again. And I don’t care. I need to satisfy my own deep desire to ride perfect for myself. To finish as best I can and let my boys see that. My parenting is not perfect. My patience often paper thin which is my own known focal point I need to work on when raising my boys. But if I can do anything now, I can show them that giving up due to virtually no good reason is just not an option. You commit, you bite the bullet. You carry on and try to do your best and improve.
I have put Castle Rock and my other bad performances behind. It’s time to just ride. To go hard. To feel where I am in the grand scheme and push. To come across the finish line and not immediately determine my place…but where my sons eyes are.
The BCS Ambassador Team has an amazing array of sponsors to help us carry the torch of ‘cross and assist us with our evangelical mission to teach the sport to any and all who’ll listen to us crazies. In this interview, I talk with BCS team mate and co-founder of Apikol, Doug Schuler. Apikol is a leading manufacturer of custom-engineered performance enhancing automotive parts and are based here in Boulder, Colorado.
Pete walks us through probably one of the single most important items you should have on your bike to eliminate the chance of a dropped chain ruining your race. Be smart and take away any of those variables that could throw all the hard work you do to be competitive out the window and install a chain catcher. Learn more about the K-Edge’s product we proudly use on our Ridley X-fires. (Incidentally we use the version for double chain rings up front…but they have variants for single rings as well).
Some photos to help you with placement:
What do you get when you combine a gaggle of aging bike racers, copious amounts of beer, darkness and cruiser bikes? Chaos. The Tour de Dewey was brought back in style for a certain Dubba’s 40th birthday. It was of course a full moon and the date was special to say the least…
There were costumes…
Everybody needs a little time away. It’s not just for Peter Cetera…
Week 8 was spent off the bike. Resting. And trying to let the body repair to be able to hang on through January. Getting’ old yo! Yeah, I said that.
Next up, an epic fall weekend here on the Front Range. Looking forward to Sunday’s course in particular. Designed by Mr. Webber himself.
Ah, Lucca. One of my favorite places on earth. We named our dog after this city we love it so. My friend Laurent sent this beautiful video for us to check out here in the States. Makes me weepy. I want to take my wife back there some day again…
“Keep the faith, Gregory”. His voice saying those words still rings through my ears. My dad was not a overtly philosophical man, in fact quite the opposite. His introversion was by intent the antitheses of what he loathed…loud mouthed, hyper-opinionated people who had about as much depth as a piece of paper. But that one sentence was his mantra. A mantra to stick to it. To stay focused. To not deviate from what you know to be right and true and ultimately good. I use those words as a war cry. As a church hymn. As a poem. As a form of therapy. All inside the privacy of my mind for no one else but he and I to continue our regular posthumous conversation. The words are my core. The words are the only ‘philosophy’ I teach my boys.
Now, the words mean more than ever. I’m using them to hold the line in our beautiful life my Amy and I have created. A life Amy and I promise each other we live in its present moment. When my instinct is screaming at me to rush for security and well-lit pathways in life, I use the words to remind me that the dimmer path is yielding fruits I’d never anticipated – seeing my boys at times of the day the well-lit path would never have allowed me to do and being able to do things with them I’d never thought there would be moments to spare to do with them. Supporting my beautiful wife as she creates her own business and realizes her dreams and the potential she never thought she’d see again. Diving head first into a business to learn what is possible of myself, our ideas and our abilities to execute on building something from absolutely fucking nothing.
And so now, dad, I continue to keep the faith. Even if it means I need to close my eyes because the path is so under-lit that the only thing that can keep me moving forward is my faith…and that is the confidence you gave me growing up in myself. Telling me that I could do anything, absolutely anything I wanted to do in this life.
And I have that now.
It’s in my grasp already.
It’s in the spirit of my children.
Our sponsor Clement has been on a tear this season, delivering some fine rubber to athletes like Ben Berden Ryan Trebon and of course the Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassadors! This rubber has notched some fantastic wins this season thus far from USGPs to the Boulder Cup this past weekend.
Here Pete Webber tells us about the mud-specific tire, the PDX.