There were 'cross races in Gloucester, MA this past weekend, so I hear. I was near them, and I had numbers pinned on, but I couldn't really see the racing from where I was. For the interested, there are a mess of really cool videos over on Cyclingdirt, including the infamous and highly entertaining one. Intentional or not, professional or not, grudge matches can only be good for spectating and sponsorship dollars. But I digress.
Saturday at Gloucester was ludicrously muddy. I rode well in the mud, better than I ever used to in fact. But an overly aggressive start combined with some mistakes relegated me to racing somewhere in the high-20's, where I stayed, and that was that. I don't have a pit bike yet (next week?) so I pitted onto Joe's 52cm bike with the saddle 3cm too short, which was pretty entertaining. But that has nothing to do with my result. I think my suckiness is attributable to a little fatigue and the need to do some engine work. It's hard to get the balance right between high-end training and maintenance/recovery. With 2 'crosses per weekend it's really easy to overdo it, and the racing pretty much takes care of the high-end work on the weekends. So this week is diesel week, and hopefully I can participate in the races in Providence next weekend.
Sunday was just frustrating. I had a better and more reasonable start where I avoided blowing myself up and I was in and around a respectable group racing for 20th or so, with good prospects for moving up when a series of bobbles and dropped chains, some mine, some others', cost me a mess of time. I hate to admit it, but my core is weak, and my back hurt on the bumpy ground, so crunches here I come. After having resigned myself to another ignominious day in the high-20's, I had a final bobble in the buttonhook coming into the barriers with 2 to go and I just couldn't make myself care enough to run. Off came the helmet, exit smoothly under the tape, rest forehead on handlebars for a couple of minutes over by the gazebo, roll to the car, get a drink. Sometimes a little "wasn't-there-didn't-happen" is preferable to actually finding out how bad the result would have been if I had stuck it out. And sometimes not, for sure. But when I come unglued mentally, and the riding stops being fun, it's usually time to bail for the day. No sense getting hurt or breaking the bike when you can't keep your head in the game. So, better days.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with where my form seems to be, but the 'cross season is still relatively young. I do seem to be yards better at driving my bike than I used to be, and it is a definite confidence builder to know that I can drop people who are stronger than me in the mud or in technical sections. But it seems like there are a lot of people stronger than me, and that's a little hard to take. I know my body pretty well at this point, though, and I know that I won't be worse than this a month or even 2 months from now, and a lot of guys will be once road and mountain bike season fitness is a distant memory. The 'cross season itself is like a race in a lot of ways, and while a good start is key, steady consistency can pay off, as well. So I'll be tuning my engine, building my threshold and hoping for better results. If I could just get my 2nd lap fitness to match my starts I would be all set, and that has to be coming. Hope so.
And in other news I teach English, do awesome dad stuff, and have started to do some freelance editing as well as coaching a few bike racers. Doing knowledge work feels good, making a reasonable living would feel even better.
So now that I have caught up on several months worth of navel-gazing, race report style blogging, I will leave you to your workday. Don't forget to check out my articles over on Embrocation Cycling Journal. I get paid by the hit, true story. So click early and often.
Thanks for reading,
5 weeks ago