Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Song for Cyclocross

Every time I think of you, I always gasp for breath
And I'm still sitting here, and you're weeks away
And I'm wonderin' why I left
And there's a storm that's raging through my lactic acid-filled legs tonight

I see your name all over Facebook, and it always makes me smile
All my friends keep talkin' about you, and it's almost driving me wild
And there's a heart that's breaking on this registration site tonight

I ain't missing you at all, since I'll been gone away
I ain't missing you, no matter what I might say


When I signed up for Pisgah Stage Race last spring, the thought of sacrificing a season of cyclocross for it didn't bother me one bit. After all, I suck at 'cross, right?

However, after a few months of reflection and the fact that the best race I've had this season was a 30-minute short track race, I'm starting to question the whole "I suck at 'cross" belief that I made up ago couple of years ago. Yeah, I've had some pretty questionable 'cross results the last couple of years, but I also had some pretty questionable training in July-September the last couple of years. Could it be that 'cross was a litmus test for my real fitness level rather than the fact that something in my genetic makeup makes me especially weak and ungainly when riding a rigid bike over rough, grassy ground?

Okay, I admit that the 'cross bike/grass combo puts a hurt on a me like nothing else I have ever known (I do it for the thrills, the skinsuits, and the pageantry), but having never actually been inside the body of an elite mountain bike and cross racer, I can't say that transition away from suspension and buff singletrack isn't just as rough on them. I also must admit that, while I have a special affection for Jake, he isn't exactly the most high-end bike in the world and he may not be helping with the roughness.

Regardless, I've decided that the "I suck at 'cross" excuse is not going to fly anymore, anyway. It's a little too much like the stereotypical old "When am I going to use this in real life?" excuse about high school Algebra. I may never become a 'cross "specialist", but I think it's important for identifying strengths and weaknesses that carry over to my other races.

Good bike racers are good bike races no matter what type of race you put them in. Adam Craig, Rachel Lloyd, Katie Compton, and Georgia Gould all come to mind. Heck, I wouldn't bet against Mark Cavendish in a local amateur hill climb race, even though that's his "weakness". (Less than 25% slower than the top climbers in the world is still pretty fast.)

Having thought about all of this, it's not really going to change my plans for fall, because I've committed to Pisgah. However, it may change my attitude about what I'm going to do in November and December when I get back. That is, if I my legs are still attached when I get back.

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