The sun is doing it’s best to burn the frost off my windshield and the fog from the Ohio River Valley. Like a human coco bean radiator, I take another sip off coffee and unzip my jacket. There’s always an interesting story Sunday morning’s on NPR. Today, I think it’s an interview with a producer from a TV cop drama, but I missed the beginning where they mentioned the show. He’s actually been to real murder scenes and I laugh when he reiterates the fact that saying “c’mon, shoot me” is about the dumbest thing you can say if someone in real life points a gun at you. I’m halfway through an Odwalla Bar and about a half hour from today’s cyclocross race venue.
Just this past Saturday, my wife and I were spinning and watching the “Pure Sweet Hell” video. Some CX nut from Portland was saying how cross is sort of masochistic. My wife quipped with a smart-assed raised eyebrow, “is that why you like it?!” Caught off guard by her subtle humor, I spurted out something like, “no, I like it because it’s short and really hard.” I chucked inside and we kept spinning. As the yuk wore off, I started to think of why I like cyclocross.
I do like it because it’s short and hard. While I do like racing bikes in general, I’ve never been completely fond of the all-day long endurance mountain bike races. I don’t get excited for the Mohican 100 and Pisgah Death March like I do for cyclocross. Every form of racing is hard in its own right, but for some reason I prefer the red-line racing over the “oh god I hope I can endure this beating for another 4 hours” variety.
But, cyclocross is more than that. It’s the little intricacies, most of the time nothing to do with the actual bike riding, all rolled up into one package that keeps me coming back every weekend. It’s trying to quietly stuff a cowbell in the pocket of my backpack without waking up my wife. It’s loading up the bikes on a chilly November morning and seeing my neighbor tip-toe out to grab his newspaper in his underwear and suddenly realize that someone spotted him in his boxers. It’s feeling compelled to make a sign of the cross midway through evening hill repeats in Mount Adams as I rest and take in the vista overlooking the Ohio River Valley from the gate of the Holy Cross-Immaculata Church.