Sunday Racing

Pedal your cyclo-cross bike super hard for one lap. Tag your partner. Stand around and cheer on racers. Get tagged by your partner. Go super hard for a lap. Tag your partner. Repeat for around one hour.

This is a madison cyclo-cross race. This is some of the most fun to be had during the cyclo-cross season. The atmosphere in the hand-off zone is one of constant chatter, cheering and race stories. After tagging your partner, there is some collapsing on the top tube of your bike (maybe that was just me) and then it’s time to chat with those around you about the previous lap – all the while cheering on the other racers. Yes, heaps of fun.

For the madison this year, my partner was a lady who I first met at cyclo-cross many years ago. I’m pretty sure it was way back in 1994 that we met and we’re both still riding today. We are evenly matched with fitness so we had a good little team that fought hard for each and every place. Lots of fun.

Those of us racing the first race were very fortunate with the weather. It was dry. Not a drop of rain. The rain started while we were standing around chatting about the race and catching up with friends. By the time the second race started, the conditions could be considered epic… a downpour of rain made the horse paddock and fairgrounds rather messy. Yes, pretty happy to have not been racing in that muck!

A huge thanks to the large crew of volunteers who made it out to Renfrew very early in the morning to set up the course and a massive thanks to those who did the tear down during the crazy rain. Many many thanks to our tireless volunteer organizers who had the tough task of collecting the team information and then tabulating the results (yes, this is done all manually with pen and paper – no chip timing here).

(The first part of my day on Sunday was full of pedaling, cheering, and hanging out with cool folks. The second half of my day – was a bit different.)

So, I was happy with my race but did beat myself up for some of the technical mistakes I made – over braking in corners and not adjusting my lines for the changing course conditions… And then when I got home and walked into the kitchen, I was quickly reminded of what was in store for me for the rest of the day.  I was back in inflammatory bowel disease mode. Yes, time to get myself prepped and ready for my Monday colonoscopy. Having a colonoscopy on a regular basis is a fact of life for those of us living with ulcerative colitis. (If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, then I’ll just let you know that you have to prepare the day before by completely emptying your colon… This means you have to drink some “evil” potions that enable this. You also can’t eat anything until after your colonoscopy. So in my case because I raced, my breakfast was at 6 a.m. and with my colonoscopy on Monday at 10:30 a.m., it was a long time without food.)

This afternoon/evening and Monday morning experience added up to give me something pretty vital: perspective. Maybe I didn’t race as “perfectly” as I would have liked, but heck, I was racing again. I got to line up and ride my bike really hard. Sure I blew some corners. Yes, I used my front brake (something I tell the women in my clinics to avoid doing). And sure I was tentative in that muddy greasy corner that everyone was talking about. But so what? I raced. This is huge. I was quickly reminded of all the things I can do now that I couldn’t for a very long time.

Oh, and the really good news – my ulcerative colitis and angry colon are responding well to my new medication. I was awake for the entire procedure and it was quite fascinating to talk with my doctor and understand what we were seeing on the screen. My colon is not 100 per cent yet but it’s getting a lot better. So really lots of great things came out of Sunday – awesome times racing and reassurance that my new medication is working.

(Of course in typical fashion I asked “so, since things are much better, can I go off my medication?”… the answer from my doctor “if you go off your medication you’ll get very sick and then when we put you back on the medication you won’t respond like you are now and you’ll end up being very sick. So no, you can’t go off of this medication ever.” Well, I’m glad I asked. Now I know. I’ll take an infusion every six weeks and a weekly injection in exchange for cyclo-cross racing, trail running, happy days with my favourite guy, and a more normal life.)