The latest installment of the 2012 Race Your Way to Fitness Series takes us to the New England World Cyclocross Championships of the Universe in Gloucester Massachusetts. No big deal. This is basically like pushing a go-kart out onto the highway but whatever.
Saturday was a good old fashioned punch right in the brain. Lap 1 begins and life is alright. We’re still in contact with others. But I’m already drained. This won’t last. I’m so, so dead when the course straightens out. Dudes are just eating me up like Pac-Man devours pellets.
Before long it was down to me and one other guy fighting to stay out of the cellar. Once I was sure I had enough space on him, I did the only thing that made sense: collected my first career dollar from a spectator and took a beverage from an honest-looking stranger.
Hmmm. Maybe it wasn’t that much space after all:
The day on the whole was frustrating. I though I would have great legs and energy, just as I did at Sucker Brook
, but something was way off. My legs were just sore. They didn’t want to do anything. I slept like shit, but how was that any different. Also, Cat 3 dudes are FAST. I really had forgotten how fast. I was pretty down. I resolved to not race the next day and drove home, planning to come back the next day with Kristen and Stella and hang out at the Skratch Labs tent.
In spite of my resolve, later that night I performed a cursory cleaning of the bike, lubed the chain, and let it sit in the stand.
You know, just in case the decision not to race ate away at my conscience like battery acid.
Which it did. I was so unbelievably bothered by the idea. It felt like quitting, which I suck at even worse than bike racing. I had waited all year for this season; better or worse, this was it.
Sunday the weather went straight to hell and family wouldn’t make the trip. I got to Gloucester as late as possible, sat in the car, and watched it pour. Fine day this was going to be. One thing I was convinced of, however, was that I would be better than yesterday. I don’t have the engine, but I know it can still run two days in a row.
As you can see in above action photo, I’m actually ahead of a number of people today, making passes on the first lap. It’s a complete mess out there. I’m still getting spanked in the straight sections of the course, but I have some measure of skill in the mud that’s keeping me out of dead last. The mud today isn’t packing like it did yesterday, so I have much less trouble clipping in. Life’s alright. I knew today would be better.
At the stairs next to the beer tent, Ryan equips me with something to drink. As I leave, he informs me that he will be getting more.
Then I do something really dumb. Most of the technical sections are a gamble today, but there’s something in me now that has me convinced that I should ride one of them. The gnarly left-hander behind the backstop. Which proves to be a colossal failure. I ride square into a fence, eat total shit, and slide down the hill on my back. So long, guys I was ahead of. And just like that, just as it was the day before, it’s me and one other guy fighting to avoid the infamy of last place.
I was able to keep some space on him, carving out some time for a refreshment the next pass through the stairs.
When it was over, I still ended up ahead of only one finisher, but it was a relief just to have shown up and raced. What are you going to do. Sit at home and depress yourself because you haven’t trained for anything since 2010, or head out there and try to have a good time. Training time will come again. Being able to accept that has been the toughest part of the last two years. But I know I’m there because I see nothing wrong with this weekend’s finishes, which were the worst I’ve ever had in the five years I’ve raced at Gloucester.
See you at MRC. I have a mid-pack finish to defend.