I have accepted that this year's cross season will not be about results. I won't even be able to make good on my goal of top 20 finishes in every B race (I think I finished 22nd yesterday in the Breast Cancer Awareness Cyclocross Challenge).
But more importantly than meeting arbitrary goals, yesterday I was having fun riding my bike.
After last Sunday's shitty performance at Lilypons, I kind of beat myself up this week on the bike. I knew it yesterday when the gun went off - tired, flat legs. Usually my start is my only redeeming move in the B race, but even that was lackluster.
Then the fun began.
A lap into the race my rear tire flats. I don't know what I hit, but it not only put a small tear in my tread, but it dimpled my rim pretty damn good. I shoulder the bike and start the run to the pit, which is at least half a lap away. Almost the entire field has passed me when I hear Fatmarc and Tom yelling from a second pit unknown to me: "What's wrong?!" I yell out about the rear flat and they are ready and waiting with Tom's bike in the pit: "Take my bike, we'll do a wheel change and meet you at the other pit!!" Sweet.
I am focused, making the final turn towards the pit. Eyes unblinking, head trained on my target. With 25 meters to go, I see a look somewhere between confusion and amusement on the faces of my teammates in the pit.
Nanoseconds later, I'm a tangled mess on the ground, my right leg is through the spokes of someone else's front wheel, and Tom and Faticus are laughing their asses off.
I gather my wits and realize I'm tangled up with none other than Soupie, the clown college graduate that tried to get his jollies last week by looking like Marc. After the race I get the slow-motion replay of events from Marc and Tom: As I'm running for the pit, Soupie reaches out with his left hand to cop a feel on my perfectly sculpted ass as he rides by - shenanigans of which I'd generally approve. He tries to scrub some speed with the right brake lever, and because he's not used to a cross bike's reversed brake setup, he locks up the front wheel and sends himself careening into the back of me.
It takes a solid 15-20 seconds to unwrap Soupie's bike from my legs, and after a bike change I'm off again, passing Soupie almost instantly... "DUDE, I'm SO SO sorry!! I'm so sorry!!" It's ok Soupie. I get my wheel change in pit #2, and realized that my rear brake is too tight on the new wheel. Fuck. I stop again on course to open the cantis - guess I'll finish this race with just the front brake. Soupie passes me again: "Really dude, SO SO sorry!!!"
"It's OK man, relax, no worries."
I'm rolling again, but at this point I've given up on any real result, the field is loooong gone with E-town and Jebbagger driving the pace to a 1 - 3 finish. So I spend the last 5 laps goofing around on the bike, getting in some good hard efforts, pimping 3 or 4 other riders in the corners for good measure. Soupie once again: "So SO SO sorry man!!" No worries.
With the pressure off my back that has been smothering me like a wet blanket since returning to Vegas, I had fun again. This is why I ride bikes. This is why I get up at 5 AM on a Saturday to drive five hours round-trip. This is why I have no social life from September to December (aside from a pleasant come-on from a hairy kid from Pittsburgh). It's fun.
This is my new goal. Maybe I underestimated the B field; maybe I overestimated. I have no idea. I guess getting smacked around in the Bs is better than winning the Cs. That's like getting straight As in the special ed classroom. But if I can keep it fun, the results will come. I'll get faster, more confident in the argy bargy, more experience in metering my efforts in a stacked field. Maybe next year I'll be a contender.
Now I'm off to ride my Spot Brand 29er with Monkey. I've been salivating over the thought of mountain biking ever since the first leave turned brown.