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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Spare Change Fairy Waves Her Wand

Rocking fore and aft, that track stand is impressive there chief, but it’s not going to pay the bills.  You think of stop lights as a momentum sapping inconvenience, a speed bump in your average speed, but I treat stoplights like a lottery.  Too many times you spend your time at stoplights trying to look P.R.O. sitting on the top tube with your forearms on the tops of your bars as you stare off across the intersection like The Lion King on a cliff.  Sadly no one notices that you’re flexing your left quad in an attempt to impress the people in the car on your left.  Like a drag racer watching the sequence of lights on the starting tree, you keep an eye on the cross traffic light waiting for the yellow to jump on your clip-in.  You didn’t even notice the 71 cents scattered on the ground below you.

71 cents…that’s a pack of bonk saving Lance brand peanut butter crackers my friend.

“It’s six years of interest on our checking account!”  My wife exclaimed as she scooped up the scuffed quarters, nickels and penny.  Sadly, it’s true.  Our checking account makes a penny or two a month in interest.  We have a little bank in our laundry room for the spare change we find on rides.  It’s a Jelly Belly candy bank made to look like an old soda-pop machine.  About the size of small brick, it’s half full of roadside change and weighs nearly 2 pounds.  Clink.  Clink.  Clinkity clink.  I haven’t opened it up all summer, but no doubt we’ve found close to four or five bucks in change since April/ May.  We’re pretty close to a free inner tube at this point.

The other day, my buddy Scott found a crisp $1 dollar bill on his ride.  Paper sticks to summer’s hot pavement.  There are no toll roads in Cincinnati, but we find more money at non-descript intersections: Delta and Columbia Parkway, Erie and Murray.  Take a look around at the light wherever you ride.  Maybe drivers lean out the window to pay the vendor at Mt. Lookout Square for a copy of the Sunday morning Enquirer fat and loaded with coupons.  Maybe somebody really tipped the valet at the Precinct steakhouse with change.  Maybe a quarter was fumbled for a McDonalds drive thru Quarter Pounder.  The change bounced off the door panel and lodged itself in the crevice under the door.  Now and then you accidently close your door on a long jacket or dress.  Occasionally, you don’t see the Door Ajar light on your dash till you get to a long stop light.  You open the door, the change falls out, and the spare change fairy waves her wand at an observant cyclist.  Clink.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pro CX Tips from Kaitlin Antonneau Clinic

“Who does the stutter step?”  Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld.com pro Kaitlin Antonneau asked the group of 30 women attending the Sunday, August 26th clinic at Cincinnati’s Kings CX venue.  A few raised their hands.  A stutter step is a momentum sapping quick foot shuffle just before remounting the bike.  Kaitlin demonstrated how to remount the bike without doing the stutter step.  As a learning tool, “I tell people to keep the left foot planted on the ground” until the right leg is over the saddle, she added.  As the group practiced on a small loop, you could see the attendees become more fluid each time around.

“Kaitlin is very relatable,” organizer Corey Green of Cincinnati Cyclocross said as he gathered the lunch orders, “especially for the juniors.”  Some pros can be intimidating, not Kaitlin.  She’s not super tall.  She’s petite with a matching young squeak to her voice.  Even behind her pro kit and dark matching glasses she’s very approachable.  The girls opened up with Kaitlin, unafraid to ask questions.  When Kaitlin demonstrated a shoulder carry, one attendee asked, “Wait a minute.  Where did you grab the bike?”  She did it in slo-mo, twice.  Standing in place, about half the group grabbed their bikes from the down tube, set it on their shoulders and snaked their arm under to grab their handlebars. 

Most importantly, Kaitlin gave them confidence.   Most will race at the same venue in the OVCX series this fall.  As the women practiced hill carries, riding through sand and dismounts/remounts, Kaitlin scanned the group and gave individual guidance where needed.  After each break-out practice session she gathered the group for a discussion. 

Here are a few tips I gleaned from the clinic:

1: When riding into a steep hill (long sand or mud) that’s going to force a dismount, Kaitlin advises to get off the bike before it looses momentum.  Maintaining forward momentum is key.

2: Kaitlin said not to follow someone else’s line into sand, saying it’s too unpredictable.  While in some pro races competitors will work together to carve a clear and rideable line in the sand, the practice is rare in the lower categories.  Kaitlin demonstrated to hit the sand fast, stay light on the front end, pedal and hover. 

3: If you have to dismount and run a long distance up stairs, through mud or sand, Kaitlin says the shoulder carry allows you to run more effectively.


Next up, National Champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) visits Cincinnati September 1st and 2nd for a free cross talk on Saturday and a clinic presented by JBV and Fulcrum Coaching on Sunday.  Spots are still available.  Details and registration at BikeReg.com.

Friday, August 24, 2012

It’s Not About Lance, It’s About You.

$20 OBO
It looks like a good day to stay off the internet, said pro rider Adam Myerson on Facebook.  I don’t blame him.  Facebook lit up with the language of Lance this morning.  I was aghast at some comments.  However, having a communications background, I’m a good listener with a very long fuse.  So far, two co-workers kiddingly popped in my office to make sure I was doing okay.  Cute.  I genuinely laughed out loud at a friend’s post that read something on the order of, “I think I overheard someone say Lance is now stripping.”  Chapeau!  A nice twist on words.  I rolled my eyes at another post showcasing an autographed yellow jersey and the caption, “$20 OBO.”  Laughter is the best medicine.  Thank goodness it’s not a banned substance because today we need all we can get.

All kidding aside, I told my coworkers I feel a bit empty.  The emptiness comes from knowing the outcome before it’s happened.  As cycling fans, we know where this road leads.  Under a thick cover of trees it’s dark and foreboding.  However, even with the front end sliding out on gravel in a corner, you keep your hands on the bars hoping the rubber grips ground for a miraculous save.  Right now, your knee is instinctively augering outboard.  We know it’s a matter of road rash or a broken collarbone.  Lance chose road rash. 

It’s still going to hurt.  It’s hard to watch.  We’re still peeking between our fingers.

Some of My Other Cycling Heroes
In bike racing there are things you can control and those you cannot.  We learn, we strive to perfect what’s in our control and quash what we can’t.  We lube chains the night before the race and never, ever, under any circumstances do we make mechanical changes before a race without riding the bike.  We kick ourselves when hindsight shows we could have prevented a mishap.  We throw up our hands and say “that’s bike racing” when riders two rows in front of you fall and take you out with them.  For better or worse, today’s news is bike racing.

We can’t control what comes next.  So, like Lance, I’m throwing up my hands and saying I’m done with this nonsense.  I’ve had it with this BS of stripping titles, taking back medals and negating record books.  I too am disgusted with the after-the-fact reshuffling of the deck.  Lance is right.  It is absurd.  Either someone wins at that moment on that day, or they don’t.  The guy standing atop the podium after the final day of the Tour De France should be the winner, cut and dry.  Riders want to win when they cross the finish line on the bike, not 10 years later on the phone.  Lance contends he knows who won those tours.  In a perfect world, he’d be right.  

"Ce qui est fait est fait."  What's done is done.

You can curse the USADA’s and UCI’s procedures.  You can say Lance passed all the tests, gave them everything they asked, played by the rules and is clean, by definition.  That’s all that matters right?  Or, you can look for the crack in the pavement and insist that somehow he was able to beat the system, but is a doper.  One thing is certain, if we keep this up, we’ll be saying that for the rest of our lives. 

I don’t want to live that way.  I’m not going to continue to beat a dead horse.  I think its obvious UCI, USA Cycling, USADA, and WADA need to change.  So do riders and promoters.  They need to make sure the guy they hand the trophy to is the winner.  I can’t do that.  I’m not part of cycling’s governing body.  I’m a guy on my couch with a remote control in one hand and a beer in the other.

Sometimes Being A Fan Isn't Easy
I love banging the couch cushions and hiding my eyes between my fingers.  I love watching riders make miraculous cyclocross saves through the grass of a switchback.  I love seeing guys get mercilessly spit out the back on long arduous climbs.  I love to watch riders pick themselves off the pavement and close the gap.  I love the lead-out train as much as the guy who beats it.  I love bike racing.   

Lance did what he thought was best for him.  My opinion is to take is his advice.  Whether you’re a cycling fan or part of racing yourself, do what’s best for you.  Go ride your bike, enjoy the wind in your face.  Ride hard.  Ride long.  If one day you’re faced with a choice, make a decision you can live with the rest of your life. 

Right now, as a fan, my decision is to continue to cheer.  However, I chose to no longer be crushed days, months, years later that the riders involved were doping.  Hopefully that will change.  Till it does, I will watch races, ring cowbells, shout “Allez” at the leader and call it a day.  Fin.  Game over.  I'll turn my back having enjoyed another bike race and not care about it anymore.  I got what I came for.  It’s no different than turning off the TV at night.  

Goodnight Lance.

Blink.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Slow Leak -The J-Pow CX Clinic Syllabus

Jeremy Powers demonstrates CX Technique at Clinic
Walking through the pits at the Cincy3 CX Festival a few years ago, I caught a glimpse of Mark Legg, aka Mr. Katie F’n Compton, putting a teensy line of chain lube on the cleat contact points of Katie’s pedals.  I’ve added that to my pre-race ritual ever since.  It’s a good way to keep you clipping in the first time-every time.  According to the history of cantilever brakes stored in various plastic totes in my home workshop, I’ve been racing cyclocross for over ten years.  Averaging 15 races a year and $30 per race, I estimate I’ve spent a barf inducing $4000+ in entry fees acquiring tiny bits-o-genius from other riders.  I almost choked when clinic organizer Chris Mayhew emailed me the comprehensive syllabus for the Jeremy Powers Cyclocross clinic in Cincinnati on September 2nd.  Compared to wallowing through a decade and four grand’s worth of cyclocross trial and error, $160 for a full day of pro instruction is a bargain. 

Multiple Choice Question #1: The rider leading through this point in the race usually wins:
A: The line of the Port-a-Poddy.
B: The barriers.
C: Through the sand.
D: Coming out of the last corner.

Becoming a better cyclocrosser is more than doing intervals.  It’s more than learning skill and technique.  It’s more than becoming a better home mechanic.  It’s also about being smart on the bike.  You’ll learn all of that in this one clinic hosted by the reigning US National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers, Fulcrum Coaching’s Dan Tille and Rusty Williford, and Chris Mayhew and Eric Lundgren of JBV Coaching. 

Click Here for Event Flyer/Website
Hup Hup and At ‘Em
The morning of the clinic starts with mechanical assistance.  If you get there a half hour early (and you should), you can inquire about bike set-up and fit.  Chris and Eric will be on hand to make mechanical adjustments and offer guidance on some little tweaks that may positively impact they way your bike performs.  Just over the weekend, I learned that by slightly moving my hoods outboard a millimeter or two, it can make the handlebars feel a bit wider allowing for better control over bumpy terrain.  Ask questions.  Put your bike next to J-Pow’s and look for differences in set up.  Are your hoods too low and/or saddle too high?

J-Pow Puts on a Barrier Clinic at Cincy3
9am Get Schooled By J-Pow
The clinic begins with a bit of classroom instruction where they’ll likely cover basic topics like “shifting-ahead,” a technique where you anticipate what gear you’ll need on the exit of an obstacle and shift into that gear before the obstacle.  I’d recommending bringing a pen and notebook along with your bike.  The rest of the morning will be spent in small groups split up by level of expertise on dismount and remount drills.  Beginner riders will learn the basic step off.  Intermediate and Advanced riders will cover the correct technique for the step around and the step through.  From there, riders will learn the proper suitcase and shoulder carry techniques and what situation to use each in. 

Multiple Choice Question #2: How do you route your arm when shouldering your bike?
A: Through the main triangle and under the down tube, ending with your hand on handle bar drop.
B: Through the main triangle and in front of the head tube, ending with hand on handle bar drop.
C: Whatever way keeps my fingers out of the spokes.
D: Depends on the size of the bike and type of brakes.

He's gotta use teeth whitener.
Lunch with J-Pow
At noon it’s a catered lunch with J-Pow.  It’ll be opportunity to cut loose and ask J-Pow candid questions. Do you use a teeth whitener?  How do you read your competition during a race?  When do you decide to bunny hop the barriers as opposed to running them?  Is Trebon too tall to even see around? 

The Whole Shot
The afternoon starts with a classroom discussion of tires, brakes and equipment where you’ll learn the best tires to use for the races you plan on doing.  I’m sure there’ll be a great discussion about tire pressure.  Another good reason to take notes.  At 1 p.m. you’ll hit the barriers, followed by practicing starts.  Mid afternoon, the attention turns to learning how to properly evaluate a cyclocross race course, off-camber riding, bike exchanges, pitting and mini races.  Lastly, the clinic ends with a round table question and answer period.

The Bell Lap
Take it from a guy who’s spent ten years racing but never won a cyclocross race.  Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or budding advanced rider…the $160 you spend on this clinic is worth a decade of racing experience.  Click here to register or for more information.

Quiz Answers:
#1: Based on my experience, the rider leading out of the last corner usually wins the race or the sprint of the group they are with.  Becoming that rider is something you can learn at the clinic. 

#2: How you route your arm depends on the size of the bike and whether your front brake will dig into your arm or not.  Some junior’s bikes and bodies are so small that one technique may lend itself better than the other.  For me, with the new mini-v brakes, I now route my arm under the down tube as opposed to in front of the head tube to avoid the abrasive metal of the cable-noodle from biting into my arm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joe vs J-Pow? I Say, “What the Pho!”

Beach Boardwalk in St. Maarten
The people next to us are blowing up a floatie toy for their kids on the beach in St. Maarten.  Donk-da-donk-dee- -donk-da-donk-dee goes the sound of the reggaeton music distortedly booming from the grass thatched roof of the nearby bar.  It’s a Caribbean club mix of a Rihanna song.  I’m drinking water.  Even on vacation, still too early for beer.  As I remember, I finished the short story I was reading in my Outside Magazine Top 25 book.  From under this umbrella, looking over the rim of my Giro cycling sunglasses across the water stretching to Puerto Rico, I see some snorkeling, others bobbing on those wacky noodles, some kids down the beach playing paddle ball.  I eyed the perimeter of buoys surrounding the swimming area.  It was large, maybe 150 meters out to the tip of the peninsula on my right and 300 meters wide to the other side of the little bay.  I wondered.  Yeah.  I think I can swim that.

You Can't Say No to Pho
Lately I’ve found myself in these situations with little conundrums.  I fight with my brain.  I wonder if I can swim 600 meters in the ocean, not having freestyled a distance like that since I was on the Menomonee Falls HS team.  Then again, this a resort beach, not the English Channel.  Just minutes ago at the radio station where I work, Amy Tobin, a local culinary expert, brought in a dish of Pho for me to try.  It was phresh.  Pho is an Asian soup with a wonderful vegetable broth made of basil, cilantro, red peppers, sprouts, a twist of lime and a few other unrecognizable things.  At the bottom of the bowl is filet mignon.  She tells me the hot soup cooks the meat.  Genius!  I’ve never had it before but it looks delicious, like $15 on Chef Ramsey’s restaurant menu delicious.  I start to waffle and she knows it.  She forgets sometimes.  I gently remind her I’ve been eating more or less vegan since November.  “What the Pho!”  She says coining the phrase with a smile.  Ha!  I picked up my spoon and laughed.  Yeah.  What the Pho.

Granted, these moments aren’t daring.  I’m not booking a Himalayan trek.  I’m not skydiving or chancing an X-Games motorcycle gap jump, but I am kicking off my shoes and jumping in the ice cold water of a waterfall pool mid-hike.  Without a towel no less!  I find myself more and more taking advantage of opportunities put before me, mainly for the reason I may not be able to do them again.  It’s like money in the memory bank for me.  I don’t buy that it’s the cliché midlife crisis.  I could give a crap if I had a corvette or a boat.  Aside from my cycling friends, I look 10 years younger than anyone my age.  I got carded buying beer at a Fray concert the other day.  I think this is more of a decision to live in the moment, not be boxed in by rules real or imaginary and not let life pass you by. 

Me and Jpow at Cincy3 2011
This morning, I entered a pro cyclocross race.  It’s not my first, but probably my first since I got on the other side of 40.  What the Pho!  It’s at night and under the lights.  It’s the CX After Dark Series stop on day 2 of the Cincy3 CX Festival.  National Champion Jeremy Powers will likely be on the driving end.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Even though I had to tread water for a few seconds to get my bearing, I completed my little ocean swim in St. Maarten.  I drained my Hydrapak and got back to our car a little later than expected on that hike to the arch.  I ingested three thin slices of beef in the last 9 months, but now I’ve had Pho.  My veganism wasn’t a no-hitter anyway.  I don’t think I’ll have this opportunity again.  I know I’ll have to race my heart out to even have the remotest chance of staying on the lead lap.  It’ll likely be a matter of how many laps I’ll be down at the end of the race.  I’ll be training.  My wife, friends and fans will be screaming.  My JBV coach Chris Mayhew will be there.  I’ll have my trusted teammate Jaden in the pits.  There’ll be lights and music, heckles and hand-ups, cowbells and cheers.  It’ll be fun, likely a highlight of the season.  What the Pho!

Joe Note: J-pow is hosting a Cyclocross Clinic in Cincinnati with JBV Coaching on September 1st.  It'll be a full day with classroom and on the bike instruction.  You should do it, if only to say you had lunch and rode with Jpow.  What the Pho!  Click here for details.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Un-friend the Bathroom Scale

So, like many women, I’m reading an issue of Self magazine while on the toilet, except, I’m not a woman.  Guys will read anything put in front of them while in the moment.  I’ve been known to read the ingredients of shampoo bottles.  “Hmm… I never knew Aveda was in Minnesota.”  Self is a well done kitchen sink women’s magazine with advice on everything from fitness and food to love and fashion.  After a man is done paging through the pictures of women bending over Bosu balls wearing beach volleyball outfits, he starts reading articles.  He bounces from “Toning the Tummy in Ten Minutes” to” 6 Ways Light Up the Bedroom When the Lights Are Out.”  Within minutes, he’s overwhelmed, filled with self doubt and reaches for the comforting factual label of the shampoo bottle.  While I may not understand why bright argyle socks and ankle boots are part of this fall’s hottest looks, I do know the best way to approach the cyclist’s nemesis, the scale.

The reason I was reading Self magazine in the first place was because I was a man on a mission, taking the steps necessary to get an accurate comparable measurement of my weight.  It’s science dammit!  It matters which foot you step in the scale with first.  It’s not a 50/50 daily proposition where either you’re fatter than yesterday or your not.  Weighing yourself like that, especially daily, is closer to the odds of Powerball than a coin flip.  No wonder you want to unfriend the scale.  In your diet, work life and exercise routine, Tuesday is never the same as Wednesday.  You need to tip the scale of the scale in your favor by flushing out the variables.

Eating a vegan diet, this was not my first flush of the morning.  Carnivores won’t get that joke.  My scale ritual is a bi-weekly Monday morning process that involves standing, sitting, a few sips of hot coffee, then sitting again.  Self magazine may softly describe this as emptying yourself.  Remember, if you’re on the toilet, by definition you’re losing weight.  However, it’s not so much as trying to be as light as possible, but trying to be as accurate and comparable as possible.  Welcome to Nerdville.

The Doctor’s office is the worst.  You want to scratch her eyes out every time she points you in the direction of the scale with your jacket still on and your cellphone in your pocket.  “Step on the scale,” the nurse says.  Like the bailiff hauling you out of the courtroom to the gallows, you frantically try to jettison anything heavy.  Clink!  Car keys.  Kick!  Shoes.  It boggles my mind how they can be trusted to prescribe accurate amounts of medication when they have no clue how to measure the weight of a human body.  She plays with the weights.  You hold your breath when she grabs that big 50lb piece and slides it to the right.  You sigh when she reverses and grabs the 25.  Before the teeter totter even stalls, she’s writing down a number.  It’s so frustrating.  Surprisingly, most of us do the same thing to ourselves at home.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever weighed yourself with wet hair. 

So here are my rules for hitting the scale with success:

Same Tile, Facing East
WEIGH BI-WEEKLY:  The scale is like the stock market.  You can’t sweat the daily ups and downs when your focus is on retirement income.  Like meeting with a financial advisor, Bi-weekly is more or less a check in to see if things are moving the right direction.  If you’re reading this blog, you probably eat fairly healthy and workout nearly daily.  Trust in your good habits.  A pound a week is quite an accomplishment.  Two weeks is more likely.  Bi-weekly weighing gives you 13 days of waking up happy, or at least not wanting to pound the scale with a sledgehammer. 

FIND YOUR DAY AND TIME: You’re likely to be lighter on a Monday morning after a weekend of nice long bike rides and a peaceful Sunday night, than on a Thursday, after Wednesday night’s steakhouse social.  If you work odd hours, think about the day and time when you’re likely to be lightest and stick with it.  That’s your day.  As for a time, pick the earliest waking moment, after taking care of business, but before breakfast and a shower.  

WEIGH ONLY YOUR BODY: Aside from your wedding ring, drop the pajamas and lose the watch.  You’d be surprised how much flip flops, socks, undies and a t-shirt weigh.  Besides that, unless you’re wearing the exact same ensemble every time you step on the scale, your weights won’t be comparable.  A large cotton t-shirt weighs more than a dry-fit running shirt.    

BE COMPARABLE: I’m almost savant-like in my process.  I place the scale on the same tile of the bathroom floor every time, the scale always facing east.  I approach the scale the same way, right foot first.  It’s no different than a pre-race warm-up ritual. 

REALIZE LIMITATIONS: Keep in mind, most bathroom scales don’t measure fractions of a pound.  For me, the scale read 154 this morning on the first step.  I was hoping for better.  However 154 could be anywhere between 154.0 and 154.9, nearly a full pound in slop!  Trust that if even if your weight is flat after being good for two weeks, that you probably on track, but its not showing up on the scale.  Or, sit down, re-read the shampoo bottle again, and see if you can muster a 153.  It works!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lose Yourself in 2012-13 Cyclocross

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.