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A Cross Column: Back to Work

By all accounts Nittany Cross was a good weekend of racing. It is always nice when things work out and you can go home with a result and a goal crossed off the list. The plan going into the week after was to do some training, go race a local race over the weekend, and to prepare as much as I could for New England Holy Week. But, as you know, best laid plans and what not… When I got home on Monday of course I was sick.

Getting sick is not great but it can be pretty easy to deal with. No one likes taking time off the bike especially near the start of the season but a few days of rest resulting in a quick recovery are preferable to trying to training through illness. That method can drag out recovery for weeks. As much as I hate not riding I took days off and hoped it wouldn’t affect my plans to race locally on the weekend.

Over the last few years I’ve learned a few things by being friends or teammates with some great human beings. The most valuable lesson was this — handling success is easy. The real work of a full time bike racer is dealing with all the things that go wrong. These are the things I told myself this week as I lay in bed panicking about my loss of fitness.

Fortunately, after three anxious days off the bike I was feeling good enough to get back to work. I got two days of intervals in and didn’t feel like total garbage so I decided to stick to the plan and race a local race Sunday. I like local races. Racing cross is the best way to get better at cross so for me choosing between a day of intervals or a race is pretty easy.

Whenever I show up to a local race I definitely want to win. After all as another retired bike racer once told me; “If you want to have a spot on a team doing the big races you gotta win the local races at home.” That’s easier said than done though. No one is just going to roll over for you even at a small race. When the gun goes off everyone is trying to win.

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At this particular race — The Quaker City Cross — it was mostly Walton and I chasing Cameron Dodge around a bumpy field that seemed to be mainly used for growing rocks. This went about as well as it could be expected when you’re trying to chase a kid who turned down a start at the UCI World Cup in Las Vegas.

On the one hand Cam is obviously a genetic freak that has the talent and ability to be one of the best cyclocross racers in the world. It makes me a little sad to see him turn down racing opportunities like that, but, on the other hand, it is just bike racing. Plus, it only makes sense that he doesn’t want to drive his Eurovan across the country and back again for a bike race no matter how big it is. In a sport that’s filled with people doing things with that “at all costs” attitude it’s refreshing to race against someone who’s just doing their own thing.

That race ended as predicted with Cam taking the win. I had some back trouble and just rode my own pace ending up 4th. Not really the result I wanted but it was still good to be out there and feeling a bit like myself after getting over being sick. Kind of important as the next five weeks on the East Coast are going to be nuts. As in 10 UCI races in five weeks nuts.

Kicking things off will be what we call the New England “holy week”. The Papal visit is not a coincidence (joke credit to Shane Ferro.) The first weekend is the New England Cyclocross World Championships aka the GP Gloucester (also coinciding with a slightly smaller World Championship event in Richmond, Virginia.) The “holy week” will then conclude in Providence, Rhode Island. After which the ProCX calendar goes to Baltimore, DC, and finally New Jersey (of all places.) Whew.

So to quote Wout van Aert “the season is on… let’s get started.”

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