Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Power Hour

I've always been more inclined to ignore my weaknesses and focus on my strengths. I mean what's the point of improving a weakness, if all you do is bump it up to average? I hate average. Average is watching mainstream sports on TV. Better off working on your strengths, to go from above average to one of a kind, I say.

Or so I thought.. I'm starting to really love Cyclocross for the exact opposite of my usual reasoning about things I suck at (IMO). In the US, with the exception of a growing few that are amazingly talented, most crosser's are not really crosser's. We're mostly either roadies or mountain bikers that are looking for a good excuse to drink in a park, without completely falling off the wagon each fall. The bikes feel slightly akward to most of us, and riding fast is not really about how much power you have, but how much power you can put down.  

After three years "all in" on mountain bike racing, I felt like my cross skills had reached an all time low the past couple Rolling Thunders. I try to stay positive and respect everyone else for the time they had put in to learn the sport. But when accustomed to the podium, fortune, fame and prestige (ha ha) all summer on the fat tires, it stung a little bit to be fighting for top 20 at a Montana cross race, especially when my best effort was 2nd. A little YouTube review of some Top Gun highlights (as well as the ZooTown series by Jedzilla) this September and I knew I had to "engage Cougar".

Some further encouragement from the Cyclocross Superfans at The Cycling House and I was back in the game this fall, pursuing a sport that I thought I sucked at. I converted my training wheels to tubeless and like Roy Munson I was headed back to a showdown at StarCrossed Cyclocross in Seattle:


My training leading up to that race could be described as "atypical" at best. Three weddings, a trip to vegas, and one to British Columbia to hit some trail was about the extent of my activity that month. Lucky for me the myriad fuels and supplements provided by my awesome employer keeps the engine room at Mach Plasma 24/7. But mainly I benefited from this year's race lacking the UCI designation; the big guns were blasting out in Rhode Island that weekend. So I eased back into the fight and actually had a hell of a time!

So hooked I was, that Sunday marked six weekends in a row of hitting the cross races! For serious:

StarCrossed: 16th

Moose Cross: 4th

Rolling Thunder: 8th

Hot Cheetos and Taki Cross: 3rd and 5th

Herron X: 1st!!!

Woodland GP: 6th

Still to come: Miami of the Mountains, Seattle CX Finals, USGP Bend (hopefully), Baby Masters (that's a big "we'll see")

So why, you ask (or more likely you've moved on to the next blog at this point), am I so fired up about something I don't think I'm very good at?

Think about pushing the limits of Road and Mountain bike racing. If you're really on it, you're walking a very fine line between one of a kind and vegetable. I'll fully admit that when I'm racing a mountain bike, my riding style is influenced by the fact that if you lose the edge and put your face into a tree, life's gonna suck for quite a while. Same can be said about road, if you hit the deck at 60 mph, it will not be pretty. And think about climbing, how hard do you really want to go if you know that particular climb is going to take an hour?

With Cross, I've found it's a great way to push your own bike handling and physical limits, without the mental barrier of the known consequences. What's the worst that can happen? You go sky high on lap one, and lose a few spots til you recover? Big deal. You went into that corner a little too hot? Well then you slide in the mud and feel like a kid again.

Cyclocross is not only just plain fun, and over with before you're sick of it, but's it's also the perfect field for practicing skills on a bike. I've never done any racing where you spend so much time on the edge of complete and utter explosion, failure, heckling, and it's great! Hope to see more Montanans at the cross races next year-even if you think you suck at it.

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