Yeah. Gloucester. High hopes. Optimism. Reality.
You know it’s optimism when you register as soon as Bikereg opens, because you know that getting near the front row will give you that edge. That edge.
And honestly, reality wasn’t that bad. Rode hard, and knew that the top 10 or 15 are likely going to total monsters. That’s OK. Shooting for top 25 or 20, and planning on being stronger in mid-to-late November. Really, it was beautiful cyclocross weather, a real fall day, and I was riding with a serious rhythm. Hitting those corners, picking up folks on the straights, good power on the short rises. Feeling very much at home, good breathing, legs feeling it but still working.
And then: 38th. Oooh. OK, well. Reflect on the positive.
Day #2 started the same, but this time with a good long warmup the confidence was coming back. I scootched forward into the open space in front of me in the grid. Legs felt good. Plenty of energy. Today I’ll do better. On the whistle, picking up speed — good speed, too — and two guys lock handlebars in front of me. I don’t know. Guys to either side? I don’t know. Hit the brakes, but carbon rims… you know.
I am fairly certain that I hit one guy in the scrotch. Sorry, dude.
So the front wheel stops and the bike cartwheels up. I somersault on the pavement, grab my bike as riders rush off. The rear wheel is jammed. It’s not broken, just won’t turn. Takes a while to get it out of the dropouts and back in. Tire is OK. Crazy.
I’m thinking I can’t run to the pit - I’ll be lapped. Maybe I should get a wheel from the car. Or just stop. I could still register for the UCI race. But it starts at 3:30 and I have four, five hours to drive, and the kids are at the grandparents’. Aw, hell.
And then I remember Bigfoot’s book, “Huck-huck not build character. Huck-huck reveal character.”
I take off and as I leave the pavement I see the last guy go out of sight, down by the water. I’m dead last and running 45 secs or more behind. Huck-huck, I say. And I’m flying. Feeling a little loose in the corners, but carrying a lot of momentum up those small rises. Now it becomes what it really is: a game. How many can I catch? It’s not about results. It’s about huck-huck. And yeah, the guys at the back are more casual. They’re older & slower, sure, I know. But it’s about cyclocross on a cool October day. And about huck-huck.
Best of all, the hoodie slackers don’t even notice me.