This last weekend was an epic cyclocross montage. There were races on Saturday, Sunday AND my wife was out of town. Thus my house was covered in mess and mud the entire weekend.
Saturday’s Psycho Cross was my first cross race ever with mud and slop. I played it cautious which equals slow and my handling skills were very rookie. I signed up for the 4A on both days and I opted to never do 4B because I had this impression of chaos and everyone is just pissin’ drunk while they’re racing. Not completely true, but a previous 4B hot dog handup wipeout experience didn’t exactly dismiss the idea either. After my lackluster finish on Saturday and seeing PJ and Lucas crush it and podium in the 4B, I warmed up to the idea. Besides, if you squint hard enough, you don’t even notice the 4B racers that are riding with slicks or running shoes.
When I arrived in Carpentersville, I threw my money at the registration girl like a blue chip on the craps table. In my best Vegas Spidermonkey spring training voice, I told her I got some hot dice and to sign me up for the 4B race before I crap out. It’s on.
My plan was to walk around with my SLR camera and get some good photos of Peter, Mark and Ken in the Cat 3 race. I was especially excited to shoot at the cornfield they had last year. Apparently racers went through a corn maze and came chuckin’ out the other side like a scene from Children of the Corn — only on bikes and scary in a sick kind of way. To my dismay, the cornfield was CHOPPED DOWN! Instead there was what I can only describe as a long stretch of black sloppy manure dirt mounds. Seriously?!?! I was sure there was no way my bike would function after trudging through. How would I make it out of there once much less on races back to back? I saw Ken and then other 1/2/3 racers get through it, so confidence was building.
|Ken getting through the mud hills|
I should regress to earlier in the morning, 20 minutes before I headed out the door I brushed up on my mud handling skills. I haven’t made it to many cross practices, so my skill level comes from my dreams and on what hand ups NOT to take. I did a quick google search on “how to cyclocross in mud.” I was hoping for an awesome J POW video, but all I got was some schmuck biking in the woods. Yes, the woods. Great, I’m screwed. I headed out the door. About the only thing I had going was my three-day beard, my black skull and cross bones socks underneath my orange/black skull and cross bones socks. Yeah, today was destined to be a badass kind of day.
So once I saw the 1/2/3 racers manage the mud slide, I walked over to the monkey tent with the usual crew, Hayes, Geoff, PJ, Lucas, Peter, Mark, PJ, Ken, Stewart and Kelly were either there or riding around nearby. It was an odd weather kind of day. Kind of like this girl I once dated… bright and sunny one minute and a gall darn frickin’ tornado the next. Seriously, there was a TORNADO WARNING and they stopped the 1/2/3 race in mid stride. And seriously there was a severe storm named after her. Anyway, there was a panic when they shut down the race and even told everyone to clear the park. The fear instilled was like the IKEA commercial “Start the car, START THE CAR!!!!” Three things went through my head.
1. I could get home early and watch the Packer game.
2. I could stick around to see if the storm passes and have a pretty good time in a small field.
3. That ditch has a little tunnel in it and I could hide out there when the tornado comes through.
I opted for #2. As did 152 other racers.
After waiting about an hour, the tornado never happened and the 4A race was on. PJ and Lucas stuck around, and even Aaron made it to the race. The race was a lot of fun. The mud pit didn’t wrestle me to the ground as I imagined. Although that Magnificent Mud Mile did suck up a lot of my time running/walking through it. The cricks didn’t fill up with water like they did for the earlier races. I only wiped out once for the day vs. twice pre-schmuck “racing in mud” video. There were some nice straightaways and I was able to pass a few people. One spectator yelled out to his friend to “tri-pod” the corners to stay upright. I don’t know how pro that is, but the schmuck said the same thing for sand and it seemed to work. Three laps later, the race was over. I wasn’t completely caked in mud (yet) and we were ready to start the 4B.
The 4B race was a trip. I started in the verrrrry last row and enjoyed flying past and weaving in and out of the commuters on the first lap. Lucas, who had a pretty good lead, finished second. PJ was still around cheering us on, which was nice because even the hecklers were a bit weathered. For some reason I took a beer handup along the muddy banks of that mess. I don’t even like small sips of water much less a sip of beer at redline. Somehow Fred took six beer handups the day before. He’s so pro. By the end of the race, though, it was cold, raining and just butt white miserable. I did not bring a towel along, so my car became a mud fest. At least we didn’t get tossed by a tornado and I got to practice in the mud. Win, win.
|You can’t tell but I’m cold, wet & ready to get the heck out of Dodge|
On the way home my brain was programmed to plot which lane to pick and when to pass cruising down I-90. There is something about cross racing that makes me feel like a kid riding around in the park. Back then the only thing I cared about was if I could get a curfew extension to stay out past the street lights turning on. And now I just say. “F* the street lights.” I’ve got my skull and cross bones, blinkies and my wife had hot tea and ice cream waiting for me at home. If that doesn’t spell badass, then I leave you with this video from Jeremy Powers. http://youtu.be/UQ4Rw7YoWgI