I’m guessing this is the point in his training where Michael Phelps fired up the bong, aka The Rest Week. While I don’t condone pulling a Phelps, with the sun of this year’s World Championship cyclocross season rising on the horizon, I clearly see why he needed the break. In order to be the most decorated Olympian in history, he needed to be Mike for a while. Go to Vegas. Play video games. Blow off practice. Walk around with a case serial killer bed head hair. On July 23rd, my coach, Chris Mayhew at JBV Coaching, assigned me a two week break from riding. He knows this season is special, a once in a lifetime perhaps. Yesterday was the last day of slacking before a season that’ll end with the World Championships.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I’m trying to balance levity with the magnitude of the opportunity. Maybe you’re holding back your excitement too, and that’s why I sort of feel alone in the pursuit. Even with the flame burning in London, I’m not getting the feeling that many grasp what a gift the 2012-13 cyclocross season calendar is. Locally in the Ohio Valley we have clinics featuring Jeremy Powers and Kaitlin Antonneau, a cyclocross series in OVCX that’s on par with New England and the Northwest, the Cincy 3 Cyclocross Festival, Cross After Dark, USGP races in Madison and Louisville, a huge UCI weekend in Chicago, Nationals nearby, a Worlds warm up race in Cincinnati and then, finally the Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville for both Masters and Elite. Oh-My-God! What a Cyclocross Season!
|Harbin Park, site of Cincy 3 CX Festival, circa 2001|
12 years ago, you had your choice of three races: A, B, or C. The course was hastily marked with flags and orange spray paint. This year, you’ll see national jerseys on the backs of European stars wiz past your nose through the fog of your frozen breath. I’m not saying cyclocross is going to disappear in 2014, but right here, right now, for many of us this season is the best chance we’ll ever have to plant our cleats as high as we can on the summit of cross mountain. This is the perfect opportunity to grab the low hanging cowbells. Without pounding a nail in the cross-coffin, for those on the upper end of the Masters demo, you’ll likely never have this chance again without dipping into your 401(k) for plane tickets and baggage fees to Europe. This is your Eminem “Lose Yourself” moment.
Marshall Mathers turns 40 in October, racing age 41.
|2008 OVCX Gun Club Carnage|
Oddly, I feel almost alone in the pursuit, and mine has nothing to do with the podium. Outside the voices in my head, I’m not feeling a buzz, your buzz. Maybe it has something to do with the individualistic approach we have to cyclocross or cycling in general. We know better than to hang our hopes on one race. Dreams can be dashed on a sharp root or a slick corner. We purse our lips and swallow back notions of excitement, in case they are dashed with a 25mph header into a sand pit. But this season is different. Never before have we had so many major events, so many chances to feel a little glory.
|Masters 45-49 World Champs Seeding Startline Jan 2012|
So, afford yourself the chance and share your excitement. Get off the fence. Register. Let the tiny cowbells in your head crescendo into some thing on par with the bum-bum-BA-bum-bum rumble of the Olympic Theme kettle drum. Share your goals on your Facebook status. Remember what a treasure it is to have that photo of yourself towing the start line at Worlds. Hire a coach. Snatch up that non-stop January flight from Denver to Louisville that I saw online for $262 round trip. Volunteer as a course marshall. Book the hotel for that faraway race or pro clinic you’re on the fence about. Show up early for the juniors. Stay late for the post race party. Create a Power Point to convince your family that Chicago, Madison, Cincinnati and Louisville are wonderful places to visit in the winter. The next six months will fly by and we need to make the most of it. I can’t wait to be wearing a rain jacket, rubber boots, eating a waffle, drinking from a flask and standing next to you as we hang over the banners at Worlds screaming “Allez!”
Cross Nation, this year is special and we need more cowbell.