We're so into Cyclocross that we made this special page for it. Also publish a Tumblr about Suffer Faces.
Results don’t show it, but that was my ride of the season. Photo: Kevin Tamura
In a season that’s included CX Worlds and CrossVegas, I’ve written about the importance of starting the race, finishing it, and breathing. Last weekend at MFG Woodland, those topics combined with blowing up. Lap one went like, I’m in, I’m in, and then boom. That I finally have the fitness again to go that hard is great, to blow on lap one of the biggest race in Seattle well; it’s what Jacques Anquetil said, “There are no races, only lotteries.” And in that lottery, it takes lots of luck to not crash, as many did in the elite fields.
You know in a techno song, there’s always some kinda high-pitched noise like a siren? That shrill sound syncopated with my pedaling after a warp-speed start. It indicated a system failure was approaching, but I kept pushing towards the max, hanging on at the back. As the pack rode away from me, I got angry, because the space that separated us was just a gap that I couldn’t close. Damn gap.
Concentrated now on finishing, I eased up, settled into a manageable rhythm, and regrouped. When the leaders lapped me, I went into the race zone again, and a few laps later crossed the finished line with nothing left.
After the race, Anthony Dickson who recently upgraded to the elites and raced with me said
“Damn, racing with the 1/2s is hard. Why did I ever upgrade and subject myself to this pain? Cross is anticipation, exasperation and elation, all in that order. Can’t wait to do it again next week!”
Yup and later he also said, “it helps to train if you want to race cross (and do well) - learning that this year.”
I’ll add to that advice something Matt Hill would say, “In training, you push to learn where your max is, so in racing you know when to back off, lest you blow at the worst time.” On the same intense lap, Matt blacked out in the pits from an acute asthma attack. Had that randomness not happened, he would’ve likely podiumed.
Ed. note: Date night has turned into a date weekend with the Seahawks today. Mark V raced with a report to follow.
The plan was for Max to podium in the Cat 4s on his Davidson and in Bike Hugger kit. Then move up, race well, and get his name and new bike out there – it’s built to race cyclocross in the Pacific Northwest mud and all conditions. After building the bike up and during Max’s first ride, I got two texts one Summer afternoon. The first was a joyful photo of a climb and then a few hours later…
As Max learned, the Davidson is NOT an MTB! He overcooked a turn on the descent and crashed. He’s recovering now, back to riding, and racing next season.
Notched chainstays for wide tires
We’ll tell you more about the bike when it gets raced. It’s an interation of the D-Plus with room for really wide tires. See more photos about Max’s first ride that ended in a crash on the Tiniest Princess’ tumblr.
Warned up with a puffer for a couple laps and then didn’t race
For 20 plus years never had a bad season. Fitness came and went, into it at more times than others, but the past year has been like a series of mechanicals with my body. A nagging injury, illness, and then unusual fall asthma. I blame the wind storm on Saturday for throwing all kind of contaminates into the air, whatever it was, I was lit up like an allergy Christmas tree. On Sunday, after a few warmup laps, I wheezed and coughed. Then made the call to not start. To get back into race shape, building towards next season, I’m perfectly good with sucking at the back of the elite field, riding steady, solid, and finishing. Not good with wheezing out of a race or falling apart, unable to breathe. It sets me back for at least a week. I imagine if doctors ran a scope into my lungs, it’d look red, raw, and inflamed in there, after doing so much damage.
Exercise-induced, allergy-triggered asthma is so little talked about, I didn’t even know others that race with me had it until recently. Because asthma doesn’t manifest any outward symptoms excerpt during an acute attack, it isn’t generally recognized by the community and the promoter of the Sunday’s race mocked me for not starting. For years, before I knew what I was, I just thought I wasn’t fit. Asthma took such a toll on Rominger, he stopped racing, and Katie Compton was nearly medevaced out of a race in Cincinnati for it last week. Locally, the Northwest Allergy Center has doctors dedicated to studying the causes and it’s thought Co2 particulates embedded in our lungs from years of urban life are a factor.
Once I was diagnosed and knowing the symptoms, if they’re present, I don’t start. There’s always another race and the one I’m in isn’t worth the risk of turning ashen white and blowing a week of training or worse.
I doubt anyone wants to hear this much detail about what I’m dealing with in a season. To me though, it seems like our health and breathing is something we may want to talk about as much as wheels, power meters, and recovery drinks. The handful of us afflicted by asthma locally will continue to just deal with it and talk about it amongst ourselves.
As I wrote earlier about this season, starting the race is as important as finishing it. Anticipating I was symptomatic, I didn’t register on Sunday until after the warm up test. I know of only two reasons not to start an already registered-for race: medical reasons and then those other medical reasons, where dopers don’t start because they don’t want to pee in the cup, like at nationals.
If there’s no doping control, no promoter should ever call you out for not starting or try to embarrass you for a decision based on your health.
And today I’m breathing just fine.
Cross Natz last year
In the Cyclocross community, CX Nats was legend. Tales of the conditions, the suffering, and the failure of equipment are still being talked about. Chandler called me from the course and I insisted he write down what he was saying about disc brakes failing in the silty mud. He did and I posted it as A Fistful of Disc Brakes.
Next week a book about the race is being published with the proceeds benefiting the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation. The book includes interviews with Katie Compton, Tim Johnson, and this quote from Don Myrah, a reigning cyclocross Master’s world champion and 1996 Atlanta Olympic mountain bike racer…
Cyclocross has always been my favorite discipline of cycling. It’s racing in its truest form: rugged, elbow to elbow and the strongest guy usually wins. At the end of my pro career I had stopped riding for about ten years, busy with the job, kids and life. It was cyclocross that got me back riding again. I enjoy the unpredictable nature of the sport and the fact that you feel like you’re racing for the full hour.
Pre-order Endure: Ballet in the Mud for $35.00. Next week in Madison, WI, the book launches. Here’s a making of video about it.