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.
Working on the 6th issue of the Magazine and the theme is #rodeinit. Here’s the setup
Roaring through fog, blinky-lit red comet, breath-steaming locomotive, a racer stunned drivers this morning doing intervals before work. A disappearing act.
In Seattle, that’s rain, squalls, fog, and wind. Like yesterday when I pedaled at 9 mph in the direction of the storm front as it moved North. When traveling abroad, that maybe a ride to a village with trash-blown streets or a sky blackened with Beijing smog. We’ll share what we’ve ridden in, recommend, and how to persevere in all conditions, including a commute to work. Issue 06 drops next week and subscriptions cost $1.99 a month.
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.
I raced with Don at CX Worlds in Louisville in equally nasty conditions. I wrote about that race here and for Wired.
Normally I’m not the kind of guy to like inclement weather. Sure, I’ll ride in the rain or a good thunderstorm, but I like a good bright fall day the best.
But when the Showers Pass Amsterdam jacket arrived, it got me wishing for rain, sleet or snow. That’s because it’s my favorite mix of functionality for cycling and style for off-the-bike endeavors. Cut more like a fine jacket (albeit a jacket that fits best when bent forward in the drops) the Amsterdam has a soft shell interior and a herringbone exterior that’s thicker than the company’s Portland jacket.
After a few weeks of really spectacularly un-fall-like weather (highs in the 60’s, bright sun, clear skies) we finally got some cold, wet days. I put on the Amsterdam and hooked my bike to my son’s trailer and hit the roads.
The Amsterdam jacket feels great, it’s one of the nicest fitting pieces of clothing I’ve seen and it look great off the bike as well. In a coffee shop, at the grocery store, I look less like a Lance Armstrong and more like a Daan de Grot. That in fact might be the one weakness of the jacket—it’s not incredibly visible. For city-goers that’s not a big deal, the 3M reflective striping and the flip-down rear reflective panel are perfect, but I wouldn’t pick the Amsterdam on a long, solo ride on a dark country road.
Of course, that’s why they named the jacket after a major cycling city and not some forlorn route up the Ozarks.
Everything on the jacket is meticulous crafted, from the hidden zippered pockets (one with an audio port) to the pit zips that provide tremendous ventilation when the jacket proves to be too warm, which is pretty quickly on a warmish spring day.
The jacket runs $200, which puts it on point with a lot of winter gear and well below well-taylored pieces from companies like Castelli and Assos, none of which look as good off the bike.
What’s it’s like when the fast leaders lap you in a Cross Race? It’s all in slowmo, until you start chasing again. I raced the elite race at Marymoor and was doing OK after blowing the first barrier run up. Chasing and one lap down into the final lap of the fastest race of the season, the rear wheel fell off my bike and like 40 guys passed me. 2 laps down, but finished ahead of a few DNFs. I was a bit disappointed cause I finally had some race legs on the course, but that’s racing and mechanicals happen.