The cross season is a sort of solace for me – proof that I can turn off my bike racer, must-win (or at least try to win) attitude and just enjoy riding my bike fast. Racing cross, I get to witness mountain bikers herd packs of roadies like myself about mud strewn courses with their superior handling skills that I’m rather confident I’ll never possess; and watch other riders struggle in the throes of bike racing insanity that I delve in 7 or 8 months each year.
Racing is a drug. One that’s as addictive and destructive as anything else out there and I’m no Keith Richards. So instead of constantly going for a hard fix all year long, I switch to my methadone, turn off the must win attitude and simply try to enjoy the experience that is ‘cross. I register late, warm-up poorly, and above all I drive a bike like an Asian grandmother in a minivan. Some would call these issues limiters, problems, excuses, however, I see them as enablers.
If I think I have any chance of winning a race, like many (I think), I will turn myself inside out to do so. Thanks to cross’ peculiar requirements, my poor preparations virtually guarantee that I have no worries about racing at the front, which is coincidentally the only place you can win from. Thus my cross racing turns into a well-paced sightseeing expedition – seeing the even worse guys at the back, the various crashes the various gents in mid-pack cause trying to move forwards or back, the hecklers du jour, and of course, how close to the front of the race I can make it by the end. It’s wonderful and yet pathetic how one can find satisfaction in placing 30-somethingth.
Let me be clear – this is a loser’s attitude. But while you may be pushing yourself to win a 3 race or not get lapped as a 2, I am begging or bitching for beer or cake, and let’s be honest, when your options are trying to chased down a mud-covered mountain biker or a cake feed, is there really any question?