I’m not going to lie – this not racing is not so easy. Honestly, it is damn hard. Going to the cyclo-cross races these last few weekends has been fun – I get to connect with lots of my friends, cheer on Marc and everyone else racing, listen to the post-race stories and hang out with like-minded people.
When I watched the elite women race in Vermont, I really didn’t miss the racing. What I did miss was the “feeling” of racing – lining up and going for it. I didn’t miss the before and after the race: the pre-race stress, the thoughts after the race about what I could have done differently, the crunching of UCI points.
I missed being part of something. Right now I feel like I’m not part of anything. For so long my identity has been wrapped up in being a cyclo-cross racer. Usually at this time of the year I’ve got plane tickets booked, hotels arranged, race entries sorted, and the next few months planned out.
Instead I’ve got an open calendar. No training rides to do. No planes to get on. No races to get ready for.
This is a strange space to be in. I have the time to do other things but thanks to the ulcerative colitis I can’t do these things yet. Instead I have to take each day as it comes and try to maximize that day (while observing a fine line in the sand that ensures I don’t do too much). Yes, I’m lucky – I’m not in the hospital anymore, I can ride my bike to work, I can return to yoga, I can start running, I can even do some easy racing – but I guess I just want to be normal again.
It is hard getting used to my new “normal”. I can only be optimistic that my new “normal” will eventually evolve to allow me to do longer runs, to do lots of nordic skiing and snowshoeing this winter, and to do lots of long road and mountain bike rides in the spring/summer/fall. Right now I have to be patient and appreciate what I have.
But it is hard. I feel like I’m living vicariously through you – listening to your race re-caps, asking detailed questions about your training plans, offering to help with skills clinics – anything I can do to be part of the cyclo-cross community. I guess the real message here is to really appreciate the moment/the day/the experience. Yes, cliché but true.
This weekend my thoughts will be in Gloucester, MA at the Grand Prix of Gloucester – cheering on the women racing in the 3/4/Masters and elite race and with the guys duking it out in the men’s masters and elite races. Have fun – pedal hard – look up – anticipate – easy on the brakes – sprint out of the corners – smile. And if you see me slogging around the race course in North Gower this weekend – feel free to yell a few words of encouragement at me – and make sure I’m smiling at all times.