Perspective

By: Jason Alvarado Dec 11

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I came across the video below a couple weeks ago, and at this point, apparently so have over 6400 other viewers.

Watch more video of Bay State Cyclocross 2011 on cyclingdirt.org

No matter what you may think of Mr. Adam Myerson, something definitely struck me while watching this. Something he sums up towards the end of the interview with:

“It’s just stupid bike racing, you know. But it means everything…”

This quote got me thinking a lot about my own racing. While yes, it is important to keep everything in perspective, a “forest for the trees,” sort of thing; this sort of dedication and love of our two-wheeled affairs is something special. For all intents and purposes, I am a pretty terrible bike racer. The bottom half of the field is where I spend most of my time, and I will likely never place a foot on a podium unless I enter some sort of Bizarro World where I will still not be the victor, but instead will be handing over some flowers and possibly a kiss or two. As is our nature as cyclists, I could easily cite a multitude of excuses, such as school, family, and money (or lack thereof). I could just as easily tell you that I just don’t care, and that I simply love being out there on my bike. The fact is, I do care. I care so much it hurts. Rather, I care so much that I make it hurt every chance I get, by pinning on a number and lining up to get my ass handed to me.

It really makes no logical sense. Shelling out race fees, restricting activities in order to get enough sleep before race day, getting up at dawn to drive hours to a racecourse that I will be on for a fraction of that time, and hoping for the foulest weather that Mother Nature can dish out, all the while. It seems that any right-minded individual would shy away from such foolishness, and likely would do so after their first taste of this asinine endeavor we call bike racing. Stupid bike racing.

One of my favorite insights into the perspective of others towards my efforts on the bike usually occurs the Monday morning following a race weekend.

Friend: How’d your race go this weekend?
Me: Not bad
Friend: Did you win?
Me: Nope
Friend: Do you make any money from racing?
Me: You can if you do well enough or, better yet, win.
Friend: Do you ever win?
Me: Nope

So why then, why do we put ourselves through this? I struggle to articulate it myself without touching on every cliché imaginable. The freedom of being on a bike, the health and fitness benefits, the sense of competition, the satisfaction of beating the guy behind you, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is, who cares? We don’t need a reason or an explanation. It doesn’t make one lick of sense, and yet it makes the most complete sense. We do it because we do. We do it because we can. We do it because deep down, maybe not for everyone, but for us, we know that somehow it is simply right.

One of those aforementioned excuses really came on strong this Cross season, and I was forced to hang up the bike much earlier than planned. School has gotten to be a bit much this fall, and I decided to dial back the racing and spend the season getting all of my academic ducks in order, with every intention of coming on even stronger next year. While this all sounds very rational and I know it was the correct decision to be made at the time, it was one of the most painful things I have ever had to do. I am very happy, and extremely grateful, that this was a self-imposed decision, and not one brought on by injury or worse to myself or those I love. There is no doubt that next season will be a big one, and that I will creep ever so slightly towards that podium that will always be out of reach. With that in mind, then why has this been so difficult? It’s simple really: “It’s just stupid bike racing, but it means everything.”

 

Chicago Cross

By: Jason Alvarado Nov 22

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By nature, the world of cyclocross carries an inherent sense of local pride. From Belgium to Portland, New England to Boulder, no matter what scene you may find yourself in, rest assured that someone will tell you why it is better than anywhere else. While I would not dare risk chastisement or ridicule by saying that Midwest cross is the best, I have to admit that it is definitely coming on strong.




Case in point, I present to you, the Chicago Cyclocross Cup. What began in 2004 as an effort by representatives from a small handful of local teams to bring cross back to the Windy City has now blossomed into a beastly series of 12 races scattered throughout the Chicagoland area. With registration numbers nearing 700 at some events, the CCC has experienced exponential growth since its inception, greatly exceeding all expectations.






True to its grassroots beginnings, at the heart of the CCC exists a dedication to the new racer. Rest assured that Elite fields rightfully receive PRO treatment, along with the bulk of the day’s prize money, but it is the beginner fields that draw the most attention. Scheduled at the end of the race day, in order to attract the largest number of spectators, the Category 4 fields have exploded to such an extent that the field has been split into two separate divisions, and yet both sell out consistently. It is within the Cat 4A and 4B races that the art of the hand up is perfected, and where even the newest cross virgin can witness the fun, welcoming nature of the sport.








A recent stop on the series visited the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois. After three years of hosting a double weekend of racing, I have yet to figure out why a private golf course would ever allow a cyclocross race to roll through, but it seems like quite the gift horse to me, so who am I to raise the question? At first glance the well-groomed, pristine nature of a golf resort might not appear to be the most ideal venue for a cross race, yet the course features include a wealth of wind, sand, mud, and undulations that keep even the most experienced crossers on their toes. Off the racecourse amenities include the true resort benefits of onsite lodging, restaurant and bar, and even a very Paris-Roubaix-esque perk in the form of post-race shower facilities (minus the stone stalls, and plaques with plaques engraved with names such as Merckx and De Vlaeminck, but I digress…).






Thanks to the efforts of series director and NE transplant, Jason Knauff (Gran Prix of Gloucester Registration and Results Director), along with his team of supporters, the Indian Lakes Resort will also play host to the New Year’s Resolution. A new addition to the UCI calendar (C2), organizers are hoping the NYR serves as a tune-up for those seeking glory at the Cyclocross National Championships the following weekend just up the road in Madison, WI. I know, I know, January in Madison might not seem like the most optimal setting for much of anything, much less running around in paper-thin spandex. Yet, with a UCI C2 near Chicago, followed by Nationals in Madison, Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY the following weekend, and in one year’s time (January, 2013) the UCI World Cyclocross Championships in the same location, the Midwest sure sounds like a hotbed to me.

 

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