I get a lot of questions on my blog. Some of them are pretty straight forward like, “What kind of camera do you use?” or, “How wide are your handlebars?” but every once in a while I get one that I’ll have to think about for a while. The other day I got one that read “Does CX ever feel redundant? Lot’s of travel, relatively the same level year in, year out, during the worst months of the year. Or does that make it awesome?”
My first reaction to this question was actually, hold up, have I been misusing the word redundant all these years or does this person actually mean repetitive? After looking up several definitions of redundant I decided that this person probably meant repetitive. Only because I was pretty sure cyclocross wasn’t unnecessary or no longer useful. At least to me. This is kind of the crux of it though. To me it feels like I found something I love doing and so I keep doing it. Results are great and so is reaching the next level, but as Richie always puts it, that’s just the icing on the cake. Some years are harder than others. The weather is worse or I don’t feel like I’m riding well. But I don’t stop loving it.
This season has treated me well. I got a bunch of UCI top tens (sometimes by the skin of my teeth). I won a couple of local races. I even feel like I grew as a person throughout the season, mostly as a consequence of my failures. That last one is an important point, one that’s often lost in competitive sports. For me personal growth is something that keeps me grounded. It’s a metric which looks past watts and results to something permanent. Reading this back I think The Lovely Deb is starting to rub off on me. Actually, if you want to read some of her words (you should!) go here — Deb Paulson.
So it’s been a little while since I’ve written one of these columns. The last one was NBX, which is now exactly a month ago. Since then I’ve managed to win a race in PA, get 2nd overall behind the illustrious (and conspicuously absent since Supercross) Cam Dodge in the Mid Atlantic Cross series. Cam, if you’re reading this, we’ll miss you at Nationals!
After that I caught my breath for a few days and figured out my plan for Nationals. It was actually a pretty simple one with the weather being pretty warm for December. Long base miles on the mountain bike in the woods and a ton of intervals on the cross bike on the road. I had some good friends along for company who were starting to prep for their next road or mountain bike seasons. Keeping motivation high is pretty easy with good company.
With about a month between my last actual race and the big race, my nerves definitely start acting up. Mostly, I hope that I haven’t forgotten how to sprint shoulder to shoulder with a hundred other guys into the first corner, since I have a feeling that’s going to have a big impact on how my race actually goes. Also, as I sit at home and the races have started down in Asheville it’s hard not to obsessively scrutinize every detail of course info. Today I actually texted a buddy of mine (Who won the masters 40-44 national title today! Holy shit! Congrats Matt!) about his tire selection and how ridable some of the obstacles are. This is when I know it’s time to put the phone down. Take a few deep breaths and maybe do some stretching.
I have to remind myself that I’ll have two days to check out the course before race day. Also it doesn’t matter what it’s like now because after five days of people racing on it, it will probably be way different by the time I actually have to ride it at speed. For now I’m going to focus on things I can actually control.
Tomorrow I’ll make the drive down to Asheville. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there.