How to Be a Fan

I am a cyclo-cross racer. My husband, Marc, is also a cyclo-cross racer. This means I spend a lot of time at cyclo-cross race venues. Typically Marc’s race is early in the morning (10 a.m. or so) and my race is in the early afternoon (2 p.m or so) – we like to arrive two hours before Marc’s race and we stay until my race. So I really do spend a lot of time at the ‘cross race.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks that come in handy when preparing to be a fan all day. First off a few tips on things to bring with you to make your day of cheering as comfortable as possible:

– a folding chair – one that you can easily cart around with you

– a good book – yes there will be moments during the day when you won’t know anyone racing or simply want a break from the racing action – a good book goes along way in beating the quiet times

– a thermos – fill this with your beverage of choice: earl grey tea, strong dark coffee, chai latte, hot chocolate, soup – the options are endless – but know that you’ll be happy to have a nice warm drink to keep you company during the day

– easy-to-eat real food – think tortilla wraps with peanut butter/banana, sandwiches with hearty fillings like chicken and avocado, fruit that doesn’t requiring peeling or stickiness (so basically an apple or pear), natural energy bars (Clif Bar products like the Clif C bar come to mind)

– clothes for all conditions – a hoodie to keep you warm, a scarf to cut the crazy wind that pops up out of nowhere, waterproof tops and bottoms, a hat (or as we Canadians like to call it – toque), warm gloves, and a complete change of clothes – somehow you will end up muddy, wet, or if you’re like me – manage to spill your thermos of warm drink on your lap and dribble your tasty food down the front of your shirt

– an open mind – chances are you traveled to the race with a cyclo-cross racer – remember that said cyclo-cross racer might be a bit tense or stressed as the race time draws closer – keep this in mind if the conversation seems to get a bit “short” or if your racer starts to act a bit crazy – this is the race talking and nothing else…

As a racer myself, there is nothing worse than racing by a bunch of spectators and not hearing any cheering. Truly this is just not cool. If you’re going to stand out there and watch the cyclo-cross race then cheer for each and every racer. Even simple things like “That’s It – Keep It Going”, “Pedal, Pedal”, “Ya – Doing Good”. These words make a difference even if I don’t know who is yelling them. So do the racers a favor and cheer for them – whether you know them or not – believe me – we appreciate it.

The last thing to keep in mind when attending a cyclo-cross race with a racer is that time slows down once the race is done. Your racer will want to discuss the race with his/her fellow racers for what seems to you like an eternity. Your racer may go out on a cool-down ride or ride the trainer for what seems like a very long time. The changing, cleaning up and repacking of the car will also appear to take a long time. This is normal. We racers need some space after the race to decompress, relax and take stock of how the race went. Rushing your racer won’t help matters – often this will cause your racer to slow down even more… Luckily for you, you’ve brought a good book, a folding chair, a thermos, and some good food…

So there you have it, a few tips from me on how to be a fan for the day. Hopefully you can use these tips this weekend at whatever races you’re out watching. If you’re in Bend, Oregon this weekend, I think the warm clothes, thermos and change of clothes will come in very handy. Remember to cheer for all the racers out there ripping it up at the U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships – they will silently thank-you as they pedal by. If you’re heading out to Essen or Overijse for the elite men’s races in Belgium this weekend – definitely cheer for racers that aren’t named: Bart, Sven and Niels – remember to cheer for Jonathan, Enrico, Thjs, Radomir and all the other non-Belgians racing… 🙂

(Just heard from Marc – he was in 4th place at his race in Varsenare until a flat tire forced him to pit… he finished the day in 7th… Still an excellent result. Nice ride Marc!)

Tough News

As you know, I’m all about being honest on this site… So I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m sick. Really sick this time. Sick with the ulcerative colitis to the point where I can’t even think about my bike let alone get out and ride it. This flare came out of the blue last Thursday and initially it wasn’t too bad – I was able to ride and to eat fairly well. This is not the case anymore.

I had a couple of good rides on Monday and Tuesday – though I was pretty much wiped out for the rest of the day, but it still felt good to get out and ride. As for Wednesday and Thursday – there wasn’t any riding. Really all I did was lie on the couch.

Until yesterday I still did think that I could keep racing and that I’d be lining up at next weekend’s double-header of Scheldecross and the Kalmthout World Cup. But it is just not going to happen. I can’t eat or drink much right now. All I want to do is sleep. So racing is out of the question.

This is hard. Really damn hard. I’m so frustrated with my body. Some days it would be easier to understand why this is happening to me if I was a person who lives an unhealthy life. But I don’t – I do everything I can to be healthy and still this ulcerative colitis shows up and puts a stop to my dream and goals.

The only thing I can do now is focus on getting better. Since I’m not racing I have the chance to take some medicine that normally I wouldn’t be able to take. I’m hoping this will help and then I can get myself back on track for next season. (I’m still secretly hoping I can be well enough to race at the Hoogerheide World Cup at the end of January…)

I know that I’ve got a big engine inside of me and lots more kick left in these legs of mine. I’ll be back next year ready to race the season I had planned to have this year.

Many many thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement of my racing and training. I really do appreciate the amazing comments and emails that you send. Each time I race I know that I’ve got your support with me while I’m racing through the mud, sand, grass and crazy descents. Please know that I’m trying to do the same for you – if you listen closely during the race you can hear me shouting “Keep Pedaling”, “Good Job”, “Awesome Ride”, “You’re Doing Great”.

Have a great Friday and get out and spin some miles for me. To all of my American friends who are racing this weekend in the U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships – best of luck. The course in Bend, Oregon looks pretty darn narly – looking forward to seeing how all of you do.

A big shout out to my sponsors for the overwhelming support I’ve received this season. These companies have made it possible for me to chase my dreams and goals:

KingsBridge Disaster Recovery

The Cyclery

Stevens Bikes Canada

Champion Systems Canada

Bell Lap Coaching

Clif Bar