Yeah, someone actually said that to me this weekend. The Irony is, he was spectating and I was racing. I was just this side of 02 debt, then this fucker lobs _that_ grenade at me. I laughed. I actually laughed while gasping for air. It was the funniest fucking thing I had heard in days, and he's right. I've had many people over the years tell me I could be a lot better at this bike racing thing if I just got serious for a change.
I've done more 'cross racing this fall than I've done in the past 8 years. The last time I raced this much 'cross was in the fall of 2001. I was actually doing well that year (for me) and that was the only time I've ever been in the top ten when there were more than ten riders.
So, I raced the Shedd Park race a couple weeks ago. I was hung over. That's not an uncommon occurrence, though it happens significantly less than it used to. Chronoman once quipped 'you can tell how good jay will do by how many cuervo shots he did the night before'. Other than a headache, I didn't feel all that bad. The race started by taking a promenade lap around the running track. I burned a match going around the outside and found myself just out of the top ten heading onto the first turn. I took the outside again - the smooth line, and passed a few riders that bobbled over the roots trying to ride the inside, one of whom went down. I was exiting the turn in the top ten, when the dude that crashed hopped back on his bike, pushed me off the course, and tangled my bike up in the course tape.
That's right, the second best 'cross start I've ever had and the jackass knocks me off my bike. He's a big dude, maybe 6'2" and probably 185 when he's fit. I'm a little dude. Unless I'm prepared to bump someone that big, I'm probably going down. The entire field passed me as I tried to get my bike untangled.
I know the dude well. He's been racing longer than I have, though he rarely beats me in any discipline except maybe the occasional TT. I now had mission to chase him down.
He ended up midfield because of his crash, and I caught him on the second lap. But the effort was too hard, I was too hung over, and started tasting bile on the 3rd lap. He passed me, then shortly after I bobbled a hairpin just before a steep ride-up and had to run the bike up (I rode it every other lap) which gave him a good 15 second gap that he held. He finished a few places ahead.
(stay with me here, this isn't as much of a non-sequitur as it seems)
I hadn't planned on racing any verge races this year - I'm on a personal boycott. Not against the promoters or sponsors, but against the riders. More appropriately, the hype. These guys take this shit way too seriously, and I can't be bothered to set aside time specific races for the whole cross season. I want to race when I want to race, and don't like the idea that I'm going to get stuffed into the back row because I have a fucking life and don't have any series points.
But, Shedd Park changed things. Now I had to go and beat the dude. I knew he would be there, he's one of those serious series racers. All about points, series results, etc. I seriously wish he didn't make me have to do that, but sometimes things just can't be helped. So, I went home that day and registered on line, in-hopes that I wouldn't be in the last row (they stage verge races by points, then order of registration, no mad dash for the front line). I ate well during the week, trained (actually rode the 'cross bike), and slept well.
Saturday came. I got there early to register, ride the course, and warm-up a bit. As we staged, the dude was in the 3rd row, I was in the last row (shit!), next to two mountain bikes and a few guys from the guys-who-get-fat-in-the-winter cycling team (you know who they are). Already, I had 30 spots I had to make up.
First lap, I'm just making up time, jumping around guys, I couldn't see the dude. Second lap, Shit! he's less than ten seconds up! I gradually caught onto him, and passed him on the long gradual climb. The dude ain't no climber. He never was. He wasn't giving up easy though. He tried a few times to get back on terms, and stayed less than a few seconds behind me for almost two laps before he finally faded. I beat him by about two minute and and two places.
I wouldn't have gone sunday if I didn't pre-reg. These series races are bit expensive for my taste, and it was a shame to waste the $35 bucks, so I went. The sunday course was more about power, compared to the saturday course which was more technical. I'm definitely a technical course guy, but sundays course was very comfortable and I felt quite good. I lined up in pretty much the position, around the same hacks. This time though, I caught and passed the dude before the end of the 1st lap. At every corner, he was further and further back, though he never dropped off like a lead weight as he had done the day before. I beat him by a bit under a minute, but there were 7 places between us.
I finished about the same these two days that I've done all year....about halfway down, and even at shedd park with the hangover and the crash I finished smack in the middle. But you know what? I'm ok with that. I don't train for 'cross and I don't take it seriously. I have a 22 pound ten-year-old bike. With these last two races, that makes a grand total of ten times I've ridden my 'cross bike this year, _including_ 'training' rides. I know what I'll have to do to get good at Cx, and until I start doing that I have no cause for complaint. I _do_ have cause for enjoyment though, Cx is fun, and I don't want to pollute that with serious training.
So that's probably a wrap for season for me this year. There's one more local race that sounds like fun, and rumor has it there's going to be free beer.
The Ice Weasels Cometh.
Don't be surprised if I go, but then don't be surprised if I don't.