Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday Schooled: The Stations of Cross

How’d your race go?  Well I got forced off my line and into the deep mud and lost two spots.  Pow!  I can only train an hour a day and that’s what happens.  Ka-pew!  I got my foot tangled in course tape.  (Gesturing tying a noose around my neck.)  I biffed it in the sand.  (Make believe slitting wrists.)  I was wheezing like a donkey in the dust.  Asking, “How’d your race go” is like stealing Medusa’s hat and letting the negative snakes loose. 

My Best CX Season p/b Pearl Izumi
Still, those are some of the answers I’ve heard the past few weeks of racing cyclocross.  Surprisingly, many of them came from riders finishing in the top 5 or 10 in their fields, riders finishing better than 35 or 40 competitors.  Maybe it’s a humble Midwest thing.  Nobody wants to sound like they’re bragging by pointing out the great things they did in their race.  Yet these excuses are presented as if the rider were the victim of some unforeseen uncontrollable event or something impossible to overcome.  They are not. 

Gatch Front Row 2nd From Right Seconds from Doom!
Saturday at the Ohio State Cyclocross Championships I witnessed the Cyclocross Stations of the Cross.  For those who skipped Sunday School more than I, it’s the series of events leading up to the Crucifixion.  Without breaking out my notes, Jesus fell a few times along the way, died, was resurrected and is now seated at the right hand of God…aka the holy podium. 

Chasing Gatch...Again.
Saturday at the Masters 45+ Ohio State Champion Race, John Gatch, without question one of the fastest 45+ riders in the state missed his pedal at the start.  Sweetness!  I heard the gears crunch down his cassette, looked under my elbow to see him struggling.  Some call it smelling blood.  I smelt it and dealt it.  I drilled it at donkey wheezing pace hoping to put a definitive podium contender behind me in the first 100 meters.  I nabbed the holeshot at the first corner.  Gatch gone.  Two corners later I was passed and grabbed the wheel of defending gold medalist and eventual winner Brent Evans, right where I wanted to be.  Riding 2nd wheel to last years champ, I just had to hang on and wait for my best opportunity to pounce or be trounced.

Gapped by Gatch for Good
After a few off camber ups and downs, Gatch came raring back through the start-finish, passing me…only to wipe out 45 seconds later on a snotty left hander around a tree.  Blood!  I punched it again, nearly closing the gap to Brent in the process.  Gatch was gone for good and I focused on trying to stay as close as possible to Brent’s fading jersey.  Two straightaways later, Gatch was back like a swarm of locusts.  He came around for a third time before the next muddy section, only to bobble exiting the mud.  BLOOD.  I passed and drilled it for a third time.  It was like trying to kill a zombie.  He passed again on a tight left hander headed back toward the pit.  Apparently fueled by 5 minutes of pure adrenalin, he was on fire.  I couldn’t hold his wheel.  I never would gain contact with him again, yet he would drop his chain mid-race and still make the holy podium, finishing third.  That's determination.  That's taking every spot and overcoming the obstacles while everyone is kicking you when you're down.  

So what’s your excuse again?  

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