There’s one particular thing that I’ve really grown to hate over the years of bike racing. This is the act of spectating a race I should be in. I just don’t enjoy watching my peers race by and seeing the battles I should be a part of unfold without me. So, I generally don’t make a habit of going to bike races if I’m not racing. It really hurt standing around the start grid at the Cycle Smart race last Saturday in Northampton. Looking on as my friends and [racing] enemies were staging.
Ok just to back up a bit. Wednesday night I was hanging out with Evan Murphy. We were doing the usual — talking shit, drinking whiskey, and gossiping about bike racing. Being bike racers we didn’t actually stay up all that late but I still woke up the next morning not feeling right. Getting sick Thursday before a race weekend sucks. There is pretty much zero chance I would be ready to race on the weekend. At least that’s what the logical part of me knew. The bike racer idiot inside of me was pretty convinced that it was still going to happen. These two voices in my head sort of came to a compromise eventually. The plan became drive up Saturday afternoon and photograph the elite races and hopefully feel good enough to race Sunday.
I didn’t feel that great about it but at the same time I never get a chance to photograph the races I’m in so it was kind of a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. The camera in my hand was also a nice buffer. I could focus on that instead of my anxiety of not being in the race. The only downside was explaining to every single person that asked why I wasn’t racing. It made me feel like I should have put out some kind of statement on twitter ahead of time.
After the races I headed to the motel. Normally the whole team would be planning dinner but with Riche being at the Philly Bike Expo it was sort of everyone for themselves. Brit and Libby cooked in. Sam went out to dinner with his family. I called up Evan and Kyle Murphy and met up with them in downtown Northampton. I don’t know what a normal Saturday night in Northampton is like but it seemed like the whole race had just migrated from Look Park to downtown. Every car had bikes on it and finding a parking spot was just as competitive as it is at the venue. But it was kind of cool to see so many racers out and enjoying their Saturday night away from home. Again, it actually wasn’t that late since I was back at the room by 8pm. Feeling ok I decided to set up my trainer and get some openers over with hoping I don’t disturb anyone and that I wasn’t making a huge mistake by racing the next day.
Waking up on Sunday I felt ok. Maybe a lot of that could be that I was just excited to race after sitting out the previous day. This, after all, is what I really like doing. Going through the motions of the preride felt good. Maybe during the harder efforts of my warm up I felt a little bit of doubt about my actual condition but at that point it was already too late as I had made up my mind to race.
I took my usual spot on the second row. The new start at CSI was very wide and combined with a lot of wind I knew there would be ample chances to move up in exchange for burning a match. Which is exactly how it played out. I made two big digs but got myself a spot second wheel going into the rooted mess of a run up and down the drop. I was in perfect spot to make the lead group and go for a good result. The thing about being sick though is you never really know what it cost you in terms of fitness until you start going hard. That is to say I just wasn’t going to be able to hang. After about two and a half laps I had to sort of sit up a bit and try and find a group that was going more my speed. I settled in somewhere in the teens and tried to do as much sitting in as possible in a cross race. On the last lap I attacked into the run up and held on for 13th. Which all things considering I was satisfied with.
Next weekend will again be local for me with no UCI races within striking distance. If you happen to be in Kutztown Pennsylvania on Saturday racing cross bikes find me and say hello. I’ll probably be over by the flea market with a bunch of weirdos selling vintage hunting knives.