According to “Mighty” Mick “back in the day, they used to train by chasin’ chickens. If you could catch a chicken you could catch greased lightnin’!!!” I don’t know why that goofy quote stuck with me. It might be because it was a great euphemism way ahead of its day, or because it led to another famous quote from Mick about eating lightning and crappin’ thunder! Or maybe I just needed to succumb to my primal urge to chase a flightless bird through a back alley in hopes of turning it into a golden fried mouthful of greasy goodness. But really, who chases chickens? Who even has chickens to chase in the middle of Philly? And what does any of this have to do with cycling? I digress. I guess what I am getting at is there are ways to train that if they don’t identify you as a total jack-ass and ensure you lose any remaining sense of dignity, might actually make you better, faster and stronger.
This week I zig-zagged my bike through trees, bunny hopped over logs and small furry woodland creatures, jumped off a moving bike repeatedly while carrying it waist side while running aimlessly through fields. Then jumping back on while risking the loss of use, or severe bruising of a few of my favorite body parts. And will do it again at least a few more times this week!
Why am I subjecting myself to all this? Because it is fall, and it is a glorious time. It is cyclocross season! It is a time when bike skills, and heckling fans converge upon the ultimate autumnal battlefield. To me it is the ultimate festivus of fun and I am doing everything to prepare so that I save face during my upcoming first race. I hope to avoid going headfirst into a barrier, or face planting into a mud puddle and although I am sure I will encounter a solid share of classic tumbles this upcoming season, I would like to resemble someone who has actually done this before.
Still for some reason I have failed to concern myself with how I am perceived by my own neighbors while I train in the park across from my home. I chase imaginary riders as I sprint from tree to tree and encircle oaks and bushes with the zealousness of a chainsaw wielding forester searching for Emerald Ash Bore infected saplings. I am convinced that I will soon be the butt of jokes while arousing curiosity while I patent my own unique cyclocross training technique. While sprinting from tree to tree I found there was a very defiant and stubborn group of feathered fowl daring me to do the deed.
I couldn’t help myself, one second I was chasing shadows the next that primal Neandertal predatory switch flipped to ON! Yep, I was soon sprinting full-bore after the obnoxious honkers that taunt me by covering every square inch of my street, yard, and park with the gooey goodness of goose glop. So much for the Sufferfest training vids, I was testing my all out sprinting legs while I intervalled through left and right turns while encouraging their departure. Sure it sounds a bit silly and juvenile and to some maybe even a bit cruel, but although I found the whole experience rather enjoyable the last thing on my mind was to inflict any harm. Besides, their quickness and agility was surprisingly humbling.
20 minutes of intervals later, and after an abundance of open field stupidity, this arrogant group of obnoxious Canadians just went right back to business as usual. Honking, eating, pooping, and taunting me with the casual disdain reserved only for those less worthy of their arrogance. And as much as I enjoyed “grapplin’ with the goose” they handed me a healthy dose of humility as a reminder of how far I have to go before I can “eat thunder and crap lightning.”