See I live in Idaho so I don’t get out much. I mean I get our and ride a lot. But riding and cross racing have little to do with each other. In fact at times they are almost mutally exclusive. This time of year the question always goes, “you want to ride such and such?” “Sure,” I’ll say. “Cool, I want to ride my cross bike.” “F*%& that,” I’ll say not wanting to wait around for someone looking for an arcane experience as he fixes flats and namby pambies his way down the descent. We are a strange people.
If you don’t have much in the way of cross racing in your hood, chances are you spend little time running around in your tights leaping over imaginary barriers because you saw it on cycling.tv either.
Getting in the truck and consuming a family lineage of decomposed t-rex’s to drive to Portland and race for an hour is out of the question too. Basically I have a hard time getting fired up for it.
But we do have a couple of cross races here in the valley that my homeboy Dawg Otto puts on now which are fun and definitely worth doing. I was finally in town last night for one of them.
Trouble is, if you don’t race cross you don’t manage your cross gear well either. Of course I have a cross bike. Everyone does now. Give Americans something new to buy and they buy it. Mine sees the light of day about four times a year and never runs right because, well, i never work on it. Because I never ride it. I could give a shit about it really. I worked on my downhill bike until two in the morning the night before, so I spent lunch hour yesterday trying to make my cross bike run with a multi tool, crescent wrench and set of Tru Value pliars in the basement of the Smith building. I am such a procrastinator. Trying to make your bike run well like this is about as effective as fixing your computer with a blow torch.
But I read bikesnobnyc’s blog the other day on how to race a cross race and followed his advice to the tee: showed up late, didn’t pre ride the course, didn’t warm up, didn’t make sure my bike worked, drank a couple Budweisers prior to the start, etc. Kind of like doing involved dental techniques on yourself without pain killers.
So out of the chute, I ride slowly. Take it easy. For about three turns then get pissed at Rector for putting his elbow into me and its on. I also talked a lot of shit at work with one of the VP’s and was on a mission to demoralize him. Like a freight train I gain momentum until with about twenty minutes left I see his pathetic, salt encrusted grimace as we hit the 180’s. He’s mine and i feel fresh. I am going to soft pedal on his wheel and then attack leaving him in a cloud of hubris. A stick pops up out of the leaves though and impale my rear wheel, jarring me off course and flatting my front tire. I lurk around the pits for wheel of someone i know so i can steal it. But fail to find one. It’s over. “I hate cross. No wait, I actually love cross.” I say to my beer.
The ritual of cross always seems so retarded until I do a race, especially with people all hot in the shorts now by September to get it on. When the singletrack is ripe with moisture which has frozen as soon as the light of day has left it and the leaves are in full color, getting on a ten speed with fat tires and riding around hopping over hurdles seems stupid. Almost sacreligious. But as always, inexplicably, I give in to the “Are ya racin’ tomorrow night?” and don the kit and do one. And then I want more. And more. It makes so little sense and seems so contrived, but in the end it is one of the best race experiences there is. It’s addicting. Kind of like sex only colder. And it lasts a full hour.by