If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. This according to The Velominati rule 9.
According to the list of rules, this might be my favorite. Just behind Rule 5 of course. http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/. If you’ve ever found yourself on a bike in extreme conditions you embrace that rule. And quite frankly, you know that the word “badass” could easily be swapped out with a number of other words. Bonehead, dimwit, moron, idiot or any number of even more colorful descriptors usually reserved for those lacking any sort of common sense, that might keep one indoors when unfavorable comes calling. But unfortunately for my self and my son, in regards to our cyclocross intentions, common sense isn’t all that common.
This year was not a good year for my cycling goals- as in, simply put, I failed to reach any of them. But this past weekend none of that mattered. Because on a cold, wet, muddy and first snowy Sunday in December, I was able to stand, er should I say shake, shiver and race next to my new favorite fellow badass racer. My son. Thus surpassing any of my feeble cycle season’s goal plan.
This year was the first time he had ever raced his bike. Actually, he had already ridden twice. And around Thanksgiving time I figured it was time to hang up his bike for the season. But then he confirmed that he wanted to get out one more time and put himself in the pain cave. So who was I to argue. So on the eve of the first snowfall of the season we packed and prepped for the last official race of this year’s cyclocross series.
Now, maybe I was being a bit naive, or skeptical but I didn’t expect the dose of winter reality that was about to come upon us. And I am sure neither did my son. As he prepped for the race he tried on his cold weather gear and even thought about flashing some tastefully appropriate holiday race panache. But he chose wisely to not destroy his newly selected holiday garment. in case things might be “a bit muddy.”
When we left our house the ground was dry and fluffy little friends floated down- almost playfully. It turns out it was the little prank that mother nature had set upon us. by the time we got to our race it was a cold wet and full on snowfall. Wet, now stuck to everything while the course went from being a very challenging one in the dry. With plenty of sand and some interesting off camber sections, it now turned to a deep, slick, oily black, mud, ice and puddle covered sheit bath. I am not the greatest bike handler but I have never had such a challenging time of negotiating a course before. It was as if every section threw something at me new and worse than the previous. And once you were done with mud, the wet sand added to the fun as you had to shoulder the bike and run yourself through 50 yards of beachfront property. After we did our pre-race course ride we had already fallen many times and were soaked. Covered in a coating of black greasy mud. I wondered if we would even be able to do this. Then to make it worse my son had to wait an extra half hour in cold wet shoes gloves and gear, until his race. The final race of the day.
I will not delve into the minutia of my first race. But I will tell you that once again I ended up on my knees, my back and my ass seemingly almost more than I did sitting on my saddle. All while doing an entire race precariously perched upon a set of pedals that had been so compacted with sand and frozen mud that there was no way I could ever clip in. I wondered if I had the energy to go again. But as I rolled through the finish line I lined back up for part 2 of the Power Hour. That is what we call 2 back to back 30 minute races we do to end the day. And since the junior race was filled, this was the only race my son could do. So, we would race together.
As I finished clearing some mud out of my pedal by jamming a pointy stick into the mechanism like a Neandertal working a crevasse looking for a lemming or a few grubs to make a meal of, my good friend came over to wish us well. He had chosen to forego the comfort of a warm couch and come out to cheer us on-which garnered he and his wife an honorary rule 9 nod right there on the spot. Of course it made me question his level of intelligence for making such a dimwitted decision to leave his toasty couch in the first place.
My son somehow was staged ahead of me. I was staged dead last. Ironically, an official called me out on a number discrepancy. Unfortunately, I could care less at that point I was not going to contend and this was the last race. I just wanted to race with my son. As my wet frozen, and uselessly numb finger nubs were still fiddling with my number and jersey, the whistle blew- we were off. I caught and passed a
few riders and kept moving till I reached my son. There we rode together for a while. I could see him really struggling. in the sand, on the turns, deep mud. Knowing how he was feeling, I felt for him. I wished I could have taken a bit of pain from him and make it easier but in this age of helicopter parenting, he was on his own, I could tell he was getting a bit annoyed as I rode with him and kept encouraging him. By the look on his face I knew that he might decide to angrily throw in the towel and blame me for this whole frost and filth ridden day so I decided to pass him. Knowing he might choose to keep going, determined to battle his own gorilla. Sometimes you just need to work through a challenge from within. I let him ride, although shouting encouragement wherever our meandering course tape came close to each other. I could see he was on and off the bike but he was still in the race.
The race seemed longer than the previous one. party because as it was getting darker it was harder to even read the ruts and the course. At this point it didn’t matter. on my last section of the last lap I even thought of taking a Twizzler hand up from the toes of a drunken hot tub diver in a speedo. But decided
against exposing my already taxed constitution to a bout of foot and mouth disease.
I came around the last turn and even made a push to catch the last guy in front of me missing by a few meters. Finished once again bringing up the rear of the race. I rejoined my son post race. Cold, dripping, soaked, and drained. But he raced it. We laughed about the whole day and realized that misery truly does love company. This was a bonding memory neither of us would soon forget. As we headed out for the day we took one final photo of beast mode cyclocross style.
Finally after a long day we settled in the car and headed homeward. The heated air slowly brought some sensation back to our nubs and warmth back to our conversation. At one point my son asked me, “Dad, do you know what the best part our ride today was? The ride home!” Rule 9 or not. I couldn’t agree more.
I only left my comfy couch and toasty environs so that I might appreciate them even more upon my return!