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A Cross Column: Hitting the High Notes

I haven’t ridden my bike since racing this past weekend at DCCX. This has been great because doing two UCI cross races every weekend for the last five weeks is rough on the body. So, with this glorious rest week I’m marking the official half way point of my cross season. This is both a relief and a moment of panic for me.

It’s a relief because I’ve been having a good season. I’ve been able to check a lot of boxes with the way I’ve been racing this season. This helps because it takes a bit of the pressure off. Results are easier to come by when you’re not stressing about getting them. I know some racers are wired differently but this is what seems to work well for my mental state. I’m also sitting 24th in the ProCX standings which makes me feel good in general.

On the other hand it’s a moment of panic because holy shit where did the time go? I feel like we were racing in the heat at Rochester just yesterday and now it’s cold outside and everyone has forgotten all about Hydration Gate. It’s scary how fast things happen. So, while I’m thinking about my goals for the rest of the season (a top 20 ride at nationals being one of them) I’m simultaneously starting to dread saying good bye.

Probably getting ahead of my self here. Definitely being a little dramatic. This could be the rest week beer talking. 

This past weekend was DCCX. Which was seriously awesome for a first year UCI race. The race has been around as a non professional event for about a decade and it was pretty obvious that everyone involved knew what they were doing. Because it was a first year race Sam and I were sent as the scouting party for the RSCX team. Richie and Deb enjoyed a weekend to themselves. This basically meant that I was more or less on my own for the weekend. A bit of a throw back to my first year in the Elites where I had to scrounge for everything.

Luckily, I had a place to stay thanks to Bill Schieken who you might know from this little thing called Svenness. The man wears many hats (including a cowboy one) but this weekend he was organizing, announcing, hosting me, and still somehow found time to plug in the microphones and talk to me for an hour about all things cyclocross for his podcast, Cross Hairs Radio (which you should check out). Guys like Bill make the cycling world go round.

I got lucky again when I realized my good friend Dan Langlois was going to be in DC racing the Masters 35+ race. I quickly made some big promises via text of glory to secure his pit services for the weekend. Dan is probably one of the few folks I would trust to turn wrenches on my bike in a heartbeat. Plus he’s devilishly handsome and good company to boot. One of the highlights of my weekend was introducing him to Dan Timmerman then watching his mechanic Drew try to come up with all kinds of triple Dan jokes.

The course at DCCX was fast and punchy. It felt like you were always either at top speed or sprinting up a short steep rise to get back up to top speed. The first day I had a good start. A split second decision to run a tricky off camber in the first lap resulted in me making the lead group instead of getting caught in the carnage. The pace upfront was by no means comfortable as Timmerman and Dodge traded blows but I was managing my own.

I bet you know what happens next…

Yup. I dropped my chain. Miraculously I dropped it on a downhill that lead right into the pit! I was actually able to coast my way to my spare bike without skipping a beat.

Can you guess what happened next?

Yup. My shift cable jammed. I was suddenly stuck in the 13 tooth cog which was a good gear for about 3% of the course.

I managed to limp to the pit a second time. Hopped back on my other bike and tried to get going again, but I was just all over the place. My head wasn’t in the race at all. I was making dumb mistakes. I was cutting turns early and if I kept that up I’d be wrapped in course tape pretty quickly. Things were not being helped by the fact that after pushing a huge gear around the course for a lap my legs were just not feeling great. I passed the pit and pulled onto the start/ finish stretch and started to slow down with the full intention of ducking under the course tape and calling it quits”.  At this moment a group went past me and once again I just said fuck it and accelerated onto the wheels.

I wasn’t going to be able to find my own way back into the race but I figured I could sit on and try and find a groove. In the technical sections I collected my thoughts. I was sitting on the back of a group of 4. The pace was reasonable. I was still a bit pissed about losing the lead group but I figured that there’s no reason why I couldn’t just hang out here and have fun racing these guys. I thought we were pretty far out of contention. I was informed by some helpful shouting from Dan in the pits that we were actually racing for 10th.

“Here we go again,” I thought to my self as I moved my self into a better position in the middle of the group. I could tell a few guys were having a hard time and the guy that was setting the pace was starting to get bored with 4 guys on his wheel. As we came through the start/ finish line he tried to wave someone else through which I took as my signal to attack. It took a bit of doing but about a lap later I was holding a nice solid gap that more or less stayed the same for the next few laps and I was able to hang on to 10th.


In the past I might not have been stressed out about going into a weekend of UCI racing with no pit help lined up. I probably would have just left my B bike in the pit on it's lonesome and hoped for the best. I’m really glad I didn’t do that this weekendoday. Without Dan Langlois in the pit I wouldn’t have finished this race. He saved my race three times. Twice by being in the pit, cool, calm, and collected doing a flawless bike change. Then a third time by keeping me motivated and racing after I had almost given up. Then he went above and beyond the call of duty when he showed up right after finishing his race on Sunday and got straight to work making sure my bikes where in tip top shape before my race.

Sunday, I was really hoping to give Dan a less exciting day in the pit. Honestly I was also just ready to have one race where something didn’t go wrong. My bad luck had to stop sooner or later, right?

Two fast dudes that didn’t race Saturday decided to show up for Sunday. Jokingly people refer to this as weekend doping. Their dope? Showing up fresh on Sunday when guys have sore legs from the day before. As we got racing I was definitely feeling the day before in my legs. Or it could have been the previous 7 weeks of racing. At this point it was hard to tell the difference and it didn’t really matter.

The important thing was being with the lead group again and so far nothing had gone wrong. A lap later I was still there. Another lap. I was still hanging on. I don’t find my self riding with these guys a lot so this was unknown territory for me. It was also starting to feel like I was bowling a perfect game. Every lap I could stick with the leaders made the next lap just that extra bit more stressful. This didn’t actually last that long. I came unhinged from the leaders about three and a half laps in and spent the rest of the race fighting it out with Robert Marion for 9th but finally ending up 10th.

The big difference between this 10th and the one yesterday is I wasn’t frustrated. I raced my race and I got the result my legs earned me. I could enjoy it and not dwell on what could have been had something not gone wrong.

It’s definitely nice to start a rest week on a high note.

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