Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gloucester; the really big show.

"I don't have a work ethic. I just have work... If I'm going to catch up to you." Capt. Billy Tyne "The Perfect Storm"

Gloucester has been everything I love and everything I fear about cyclocross over the past 5 years. It is like the mythological siren, sitting on the rocks singing so perfectly, until I wreck myself on the sandy shore. Gloucester is just hard enough to be a good cyclocross course, without being so technical that the roadies stay away. It is far enough into the season that there are few competing events, but early enough that everyone is still racing. And since it is the biggest race in the most intense cyclocross region in the nation, everyone shows up with their A game. The fields are large, the racing furious, and the fans are loud.

A few of my best cyclocross moments have been at Gloucester; like riding through 2 inch mud without a fall, or learning to ride the sand pit. Watching the pros masacre each other in 3 inches of slushy fresh snow. Most memorably, starting dead last in the C race (from a dropped chain on the line) and working my way up to 8th in 2 laps.

A few 0f my worst moments in bike racing have been at Gloucester; like three years ago when I caught my rear skewer on a course stake only to have the rear wheel fall completely out of the frame when I shouldered the bike to run the sand, or the first time I ran file treads and lost it going down the hill toward the pit on the first lap (nearly impaling myself on a course stake at 25 mph), or most of all, getting a face full of someones chainring in a first lap pile up the last time I did the killer B race (requiring 30+ stitches to close the cuts, the only time I've needed to leave a bike race in an ambulance).

Still, every time I dream of doing well in a cyclocross race, its winning the sprint up the pavement at Gloucester. Richard Fries calling out on the microphone, and the whole New England cross flock screaming at the barriers.

This year, Gloucester was o.k. race wise: one fall from some one elses error, a good race after I got going again, a result I can live with. Fan wise, it was phenomenal as always. Jonathan putting on a clinic in the slop, Laura VG and Mo Bruno gritting it out despite the setbacks, Lyne returning to race CX, Mosher vs. Gunsalus vs. Morse showing that they race as hard as ever.

I am certain Gloucester will call me back again next year. Can't stay away from the really big show.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cyclocross and other disorders

Cyclocross, cyclocross; CX is simply the most masochistic of all the self loathing variants of bicycle racing. If bicycle racing is about the suffering, then cyclocross is beating yourself to a pulp and laughing at your own tears, repeatedly. It is completely draining physically, daunting technically, grinding mentally, brutally competitive and thoroughly addictive. Anyone who races bicycles for pleasure is a little bit mad. Everyone who races cyclocross is thoroughly psychotic. And Belgians are the most crazed of all. Check it out:

Superprestige overzicht 2008-2009 from jef cleemput on Vimeo.