Monday, December 7, 2015

The End and The Beginning

Time turns flames to embers
You'll have new Septembers
Every one of us has messed up too
Minds change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never too late to be brand new

It was a tough call between these lyrics and “You better kiss me, ‘cause you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” I guess right now “new Septembers” has a stronger pull.

December ‘cross is always tough unless you’re trying to lock up a series placing, and even then it isn’t easy. Eight months of my year is spent waiting for ‘cross to come, then it does, and it’s awesome, but after a while not being gone for 12 hours each Sunday sounds appealing and I get the urge to move on to the next thing, be it Death March, fat bikes, or the like. At the same time, there is a certain satisfaction in finishing a series finale and knowing that I made it to the end, even if my overall placing wasn’t that great. Either way, “next year” is always lingering in the back of my mind even before I ‘cross the finish line of my last race every season.

I did manage one December race for the season, since one of my favorites, Rivertown Cross, was pushed back to the last season this year. Unfortunately, December plus Central PA meant low turnout. There were only five girls in my race, and was correct in its prediction of me as DFL. I went off the line hard and hoped for the best, but things split as soon as we started to climb the levy. I thought I a saw a girl or two coming back as we dropped into the woods, so I bombed hard, started to slide out of control, and by the time I put my foot down and kicked myself back on track, they were gone. The next 3.75 laps were pretty uneventful as I pedaled along and thought about the end of my season. I’d already decided that as excited as I was about the fat bike category at the PACX finale, that I’d rather spend less time in the car and more than 30 minutes on my fat bike that day.

Thankfully, Sunday was neither too late nor too early to be brand new. Being officially done with ‘cross meant that I could fully commit to preparing for my impending fat bike season. The ride went really well, so much that the planned 40ish mile ride did not take me over the elusive 4 hour mark, and I was still feeling decent, so I let Frank drive the car home from the gravel road entrance where we had parked while I rode down the mountain and back home for 47.4 miles at an 11.3 mph average. I know that doesn’t sound impressive, but I use 10 mph as my baseline when planning gravel rides on my fat bike. I was glad to see that I easily exceeded those expectations, even with a ‘cross race still fresh in my legs.

I realized that I’m excited about fat bike racing for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s a completely new thing on the East Coast, so there is no reigning East Coast Fat Bike Queen to be conquered or really any sort of indication of who will race or how fast they will be. There are nine women registered for the first race, but there isn’t a to tell me how things are going to play out. I also don’t know how many of those nine will return for the other races in the series. It’s all brand new and I get to be there from the beginning!

Fat bike racing has a similar appeal to Death March in that it’s a somewhat obscure, niche thing that requires training hard in the worst part of winter and gives me plenty of excuses to look at maps and plan routes, even if they just for training and not so much for racing. Basically, it comes down to the fact that I may not naturally be the fastest person, but with enough obsession, I can occasionally pull off some success in races for which faster people just don’t care to prepare that well. Sure, the soon-to-be coronated East Coast Fat Bike Queen may be rolling hard through New Jersey as I type, but until February proves me wrong, I’m going to keep giving it my all and believing that I have a chance.

I’ve got plenty to look forward to before any new Septembers roll around.

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