Getting Ready

It seems like forever since we’ve gone on a road trip. I guess it is because you get in a groove during the road season of traveling every weekend. We had two great weekends here at home. Lots of time to chillax and recharge the batteries. Not to mention getting to race in our local cyclo-cross series and hang out with cool people.

Tomorrow we are off to Northampton. The weather is looking good. The race courses will be slick. A good time shall be had. Oh and the clocks change so we’ll get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday. (Nice!)

I did another ride on the trainer today. Not where I wanted to be – in the basement with a fan blowing on me watching television. 90 minute recovery ride today. The time passes so slowly during recovery rides. Interval work-outs are a little bit easier on the brain on the trainer – something for the brain to focus on other than time slowly ticking away. The one bonus of this two days of trainer riding, is now I’m finally caught up with ER.

I’m looking forward to Monday – when the snow is gone and the sun is shining again. I don’t care how windy or rainy it is – I’m not getting back on that trainer until the snow is on the ground again. Maybe this is just Mother Nature playing a trick on us cyclo-cross racers to remind us how much we like the cold and rain…

Lots to do tonight. Bags to pack. Food to prepare. Bikes and wheels to cram into the back of a vehicle. We have a pretty good system for these trips but somehow we always end up running things a bit tight. Such is life.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a bit is “why do you/I race cyclo-cross”? Why is that we spend the not-so-nice fall and winter months zooming around on our bikes in the rain, through the mud and soggy grass, with snow and frost on the ground? Why do we do it? What makes you get out there when you could seamlessly ease into the “off” season? I suppose some people race cyclo-cross because they’re good at it. Another group does it because they are paid to do it. But what about the rest of us? I started racing ‘cross again four years ago – and I certainly wasn’t good at it then. But I stuck with it. Slowly and steadily increasing my focus and desire to ride and race the ‘cross bike. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that made me stick with it. Of all the bike racing I’ve done, ‘cross is definitely the hardest – physically, mentally, and time-wise.

I think for me it comes down to community. The cyclo-cross community is so strong and welcoming. In North America, cyclo-cross is hot and booming – the fans, race organizers, media, and racers all embrace one another – it seems there is an understanding that one can’t be there without the other. There are races all over the place with all sorts of categories and caliber of racers. Little kids racing on super heavy mountain bikes. Older men and women racing around with big smiles on their faces. My experiences in Europe last year were simply overwhelming. The fans were intense. But what really struck me was the way the other racers embraced us. We hooked up with a weekly training group of mostly junior-aged boys – the parents and the boys welcomed us and soon enough were hanging out with us at the races and cheering us on. Amazing.

The racing is awesome and really gets me stoked. But I love hanging out after the race, cheering on the other racers and hearing other people’s race stories. I really enjoy talking to the parents of the younger kids and seeing the smiles after the race. Hopefully you can get out and experience this over the weekend.