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.
A flawless Monday night in November. 60 degrees and a supermoon. Which I had never heard of before but has something to do with the closest approach the moon makes on its eliptical orbit resulting in some massively large moon, er something like that. It’s big round and in its most basic terms reminds me of a rotating full carbon disc rear wheel. Which only serves to remind me how I should have been out on the perfect ride tonight, but instead sat sprawling on the couch in sweatpants and a flannel shirt I’ve worn for 2 days. I told myself it was a recovery day but really I just sat recovering from a meatball dinner. But it was not a lost evening since my guilt for missing out on a ride workout was replaced as I sat mesmerized by an hour and a half of what I consider the most visually stunning example of grace and speed. It was the UCI Track Cycling World Cup from Apeldoorf, Netherlands. And unlike most track events that receive barely a thread of coverage on Olympic prime time TV. Tonight I received a full uninterrupted dose of track racing. And the best part, no Bob Costas interruptions.
I haven’t had any days in recent memory as perfect as this fall All Hallow’s Eve day of racing. It might have been having my family there to support and getting the chance to watch my son race his second bike/cross race ever. It might have been the teammates and friends surrounding a full day of this fall festivus. It might have been the spirited costumes that reminded all of us that it’s all about having a good time. Or it might have been about a course that I truly enjoyed the heck out of. I’m 50 years old. 50 pounds overweight and at least a couple minutes a lap out of any chance of finishing with the leaders. Why do I continue to put myself through this? Because…
I raced cyclocross this past Sunday. Actually, I raced twice. Neither of the results were very memorable. I might even add they were quite forgettable. It’s been a year since my last race and shoulder injury, and going into these races my initial goal was to get a feel for racing again and just gain some confidence . By the end of the first race I was more angry than confident. I had started at the very back of approximately 100 riders and soon enough I had managed to get past a group of riders. Unfortunately, after a miscalculation I went down and was passed by the same group of 10-15 guys. As I wrestled to free myself of plastic route ribbon and recenter my rotated brake lever the last guy in the group passed me and shouted a parting remark, “You’re last now!”
This past Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, one of the most famous single day bicycle races treated us to a very special outcome. No, it was not the favorite that set the record for his fifth victory- most wins in history. It was not a world champion proving his place and stature among the greats. Nor was it a loved Swiss strongman and 3 time winner going for his last victory before retiring from the sport. Nope, it was a little known Aussie journeyman racer just shy of his 38th birthday that raced the race of his life. And just barely squeaked past the favorites in arguably one of the most amazing finishes ever in the infamous spring classic.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great story about how I cheated death while daring a high-speed 2-wheel descent down a mountain pass or a base-jumping accident. Or even better, saving an elderly woman, children, or a litter of puppies from a burning building. Nope, mine happened while doing yard work. Exposure to something caused an anaphylactic reaction while mowing the lawn. This earned me an ambulance trip to the ER. But in every cloud… there is silver, yet I say, platinum lining! I now am free of all yard duties until I can assess the culprit. Yes, in a manner of speaking you might say I am allergic to yard work! Which in itself made this the best week of my life!
Today we race! Been looking forward to this all year!
I want to send a special shout out to the EMC2 members and great people who have put so much effort and time into making this great event happen! Good luck to all the racers out there, hope the speeds are up and the rubber’s down. Also, thanks to all who are volunteering and supporting these races. And of course a special thanks to the residents and town of Elmhurst for letting us share their streets and making this possible. Amateur races are all day long. The women’s pro race is at 6:10 and men’s pro twilight event starts at 8:00. It’s a perfect day for racing, hope to see some of you out there!
This weekend I raced my first non-practice criterium since my spine surgery almost a year ago. It was a bit of a milestone for me and I really embraced the accomplishment. I had been feeling pretty good in the saddle lately and even managed to drop another 8 lbs. So when I finished a somewhat hilly little crit course and managed to finish with the lead group I actually felt pretty good. I was even convinced that my lycra encased sausage bod was looking a bit better than it had in the past. I felt a bit stronger and maybe even a bit slimmer. Until, one of my teammates posted a pic of me in my pre-race starting line stance. Other than the fact that my stature resembled that of a mountain gorilla that had gorged itself on mangos and doughnuts, all was OK.
It’s only 4 days into this year’s Tour and we’ve already experienced some memorable lessons in courage, drive and determination. From the comfort of my couch, morning cup of coffee in hand, I sit and watch. I am enthralled by the character that defines those who are tested for 21 days while being pushed to their physical and mental limits. It’s why I watch the Tour. It’s why I love the Tour.
There is a reason for everything. It may not always make sense to us at the moment. But with time it often reveals itself. We need to keep our mind and eyes open. This is a story about Taylor Phinney’s discovery through recovery. A year ago I watched him win an amazing stage in the Tour of California, then a few weeks later he suffered a serious career deterring injury. Ironically, this opened his mind to an amazing ability that flourished from within. But what is more illuminating as he gains so much more from it all, is that he is able to spend this time with his father and develop a perspective that enlightens his life and awakens his perceptions. Truly inspiring.