Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gladiators


The first Cyclocross race I ever saw happened in Golden Gate Park about 15 years ago. You know, before Cyclocross was cool. I believe it was an unsanctioned race. The racers, all men, wore dresses. The course was a very short loop through the trees and over some felled logs. The crowd, or more accurately, the handful of people watching, all seemed pretty confused. There were no cowbells.

The second one I saw happened last year in Las Vegas during Interbike. It was in a soccer field at night and all the racers seemed pretty pro. The course didn't seem that hairy to me, although it was too crowded to get a good view. There was a giant praying mantis dump truck that shot flames out of its antennae during the final lap and an Elvis impersonator awarding trophies.

The third and best CX race I've ever seen was Sunday's kickoff of the Cross Crusade series at Alpenrose. There were bad-ass women and men and bicycles of every ilk and riding ability you can imagine. Racers' faces showed fierce determination, contempt, torture, exhaustion and glee. Sometimes all at once.

Mud, blood, bells and screams. Deflated riders re-inflating with spectator encouragement. Bikes tangling in crashes. Crazy challenging run-ups where the cleated slick shoe soul meets the textureless muddy slope. People pushing themselves to the very brink of their ability and beyond.

Now I get it.

4 comments:

  1. So when will we see YOU out there in the mud?

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  2. I'm a scaredy-cat! Scaredy-kitty I mean.
    Maybe one day. I'm working on killing my gravel fear first. I cheered you on, by the way! You looked awesome!!!

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  3. Let me help you with gravel.

    1. Lower tire pressure to not-rock-hard. You should be able to give your tire a little squeeze and feel the rubber give way some.
    2. Pick a decent but not outta-control pace in which to approach gravel.
    3. Once in the gravel, maintain pace and Keep Pedaling. Seriously. You will not fall down if you keep pedaling at a steady, reasonable pace.

    Peninsula Park has some lovely pea-gravel paths that are flat and easy to start out with, and at certain times of day they are practically devoid of other people. Anytime you want to come practice with me, let me know. Meanwhile, I am so glad that you liked what you saw! Thanks for the cheers! Next local race is at PIR on the 16th if you wanna come watch some more wackiness.

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  4. Thank you SO much for the great advice. I will totally take you up on people-free Peninsula Park pea gravel practice. Can't come to PIR on the 16th - it's the kick off of the 100K Brevet Series. Good luck!

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