Tuesday, October 4, 2011
An old friend of mine, who I just learned is now President and CEO of K2 Skis, used to say with regard to skiing, “if you ain’t falling you ain’t improving.” I took those words to heart, and even today when I go skiing I hit hard and I hit often. But the philosophy doesn’t simply apply to skiing – it also applies to cyclocross.
I think you could have a very successful career as a road racer and never once taste concrete – at least I hope this is the case – but if you want to be a competitive cyclocross racer you have to ride the thin line between vertical and horizontal.
I raced at Meadowbrook Farm in North Bend on Sunday; it was a flat, grassy, bumpfest, and now, two days later, I feel more like I spent my weekend in an MMA ring than on a bicycle. Actually the course was perfect for me: flat with spacious straights and wide generous turns. I finished 15th despite going down prior to the first barriers and losing my chain. This was by far my best race.
It was on the first lap and I came in hot on the inside of a left hand turn and before I knew it I was on the ground sliding across the grass. Lucky for me the guys behind me were quick on the pedals and I didn’t get run over. I was maybe thirty feet shy of the barriers, so I shouldered the bike and ran for it. When I remounted I realized that I’d lost my chain. Re-chaining was the killer – I probably lost seven maybe ten places, bummer that I went down so early as we were still fairly bunched up.
As I’ve noted in the past my biggest obstacle when it comes to bicycle racing is myself. I just don’t have the killer instinct, that little extra ounce of something – I don’t know what it is – that pushes you past that guy in front of you. I seem to be, however, moving away from that “oh it’s nice here in the back,” mentality.
The race on Sunday had some wide open easy pass areas and I used every opportunity to push past the guy in front of me. Halfway through the third lap I was running into the 35+ racers and had to get out on the rough to pass while they cruised along on the smooth(er) beaten track. I was tempted on a few occasions to yell “get the hell out of the way,” but hey we’re all in it together, and you gotta work if you want to pass.
At the end of the third lap I was pushing hard towards the finish line when I heard the announcer say “last lap.” What? This is a four lap race! I thought it was three. Dang. Actually I was happy for the surprise lap as I was able to move up a few more places.
It was a great race in a great venue – I can’t wait to get out there again.