Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What’s Next After Worlds? #Louisville2013

Goodbye Team Hat
If you see a puke filled BioWheels team hat along I-71 northbound somewhere around Carrollton, that’s mine.  I’m sorry.  I littered, and then some.  The Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville were probably the highlight of our bike filled lives.  We raced, and then some.  We pitted for teammates, some of us with chisels, and then some.  Hanging from trees wearing crazy hats, we cowbelled, and then some.  And, we bourboned.  Boy did we bourbon!  We poured our guts out for this sport, and then some.  We were heard.  Right now the thought of racing the Sub-9 Death March, discussing the 2013-14 cyclocross calendar, lining up for the OhioValley Spring Road Series, sending out an OVCX press release, making the early entry cut for the Mohican 100, wrenching on my bikes and even joining the Swallow Cycles group ride this Sunday at Shawnee National Forest makes me want to puke, and then some.  I’m still hungover.

Dillman Delighted at Worlds

I haven’t watched the entire replay of the World Championship TV feed yet because I fear the sound of cowbells and flashes of color would push me toward some sort of post-cyclocross-stress disorder.  My two bikes still lay mud caked in my man cave, grass and goop dangling from carbon wheels like brown garland, cotton cased tires mummified.  Although it was a hoot, I haven’t spent much time looking at pictures from the race or the foam party.  They still make my head swim in nausea.  A pair of mud crusted bright yellow rain pants with suspenders drape from my bike stand waiting till it’s warm enough to hose them outside.  I skimmed through the World Championship stories on Cyclocross Magazine and Velonews, more out of habit than genuine interest, no offense to the sport’s promising young racers like Drew Dillman who rode with their hearts on the sleeves of their skinsuits.  Rubber boots, my trainer and pit bucket sit on the floor in my garage amongst more dirt and grass than the floor boards of a back hoe.  Right now, none of that is a priority. 

We Celebrated The Most Memorable Season of Our Lives
“No commitments,” I told a teammate when he asked what I’m looking forward to the most after Worlds.  Heck.  “Words With Friends” is too big of a commitment right now.  Thumbing across the screen of my I-Phone I realize, aside from you of course, I have way too many bike friends on Facebook.  I changed my profile photo to one of hiking.  I fantasize about riding without wearing a team kit, perhaps a cruiser bike on the boardwalk in Key West.  I think about joining a rock climbing gym.  I try to remember how many bags of mulch my back yard will need in the coming spring.  Going back to mid-July we’ve trained, raced, and volunteered.  In those 6+ months, I rang the PR bell for OVCX loud and proud.  It’s hard to appreciate how cool it was to see my name as part of a byline in Cyclocross Magazine articles.  I need a little Disneyland.  I need to find my running shoes.  I need a good book and a fruity drink.  I need to challenge my wife to a game of cribbage.

We Left A Everything on the Course
Last night, on my hands and knees with rubber gloves and bleach I scrubbed the water scum around the drain beneath the furnace in the utility room.  With my earbuds in, I honestly look forward to cleaning the rest of the house like a workout.  Manual labor soothes the soul.  After that, I’m going to wash my car and get the crannies around the shift knob with a toothbrush.  Then, maybe, I’ll clean my bikes. While I agree Masters Worlds suffered a blemish for inoperable power washers on Friday, it’s but a pimple on the beautiful American cyclocross face we showed the world in Louisville.  If you're looking for a takeaway, the lesson I learned is that the future of the sport does not lie with our old guard or current heroes, it’s in the legs of our youth, positive energy and foresight. 

The Perfect Mix
What’s next after Worlds?  Maybe one day I’ll celebrate an American victory Christmas week in Belgium probably from a rider holding his Dad's hand along the fence this past Saturday.  Maybe one day I’ll wave a flag at the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies as the first US Cyclocross Olympians parade on the track below.  Maybe this fall or next we’ll see the first US World Cup stop on the cyclocross calendar.  I dream that it’s smack dab in the middle of our own version of a “Kerst Periode.”  Instead of Christmas, maybe our regional US promoters can stitch together and create an Oktoberfest Period at the front of the international calendar with 5-7 UCI races over 2-3 weeks, surrounding an early World Cup stop so the Euros won’t have to bring the bike barn overseas for only one race.  Till then, it’s time to pay attention to the people and things in our lives that took a backseat to the most rewarding cyclocross season we’ve ever been a part of.