Three Reasons I’m Excited About Cyclocross in 2021
1. I have a shiny new optimistic attitude, ready to race hard and have fun.
2. I’ve done a lot of training, a lot of strength work, and a lot of yoga.
3. My breathing and asthma have improved a lot, and shouldn’t be a limiter to fun this year.
Cyclocross Racing Has Been Challenging in the Past
If you’ve ever traveled to cyclocross or other bike races or spent any time at races with me, you know I can be kind of a head case.
For many years, I’ve come to associate success in bike racing with my identity.
If I did well, I was an okay person for a little bit of time.
If I struggled or did poorly for whatever reason, me and my whole existence sucked.
This made me crabby and tough to be around.
Sometimes Cyclocross Wasn’t A Lot of Fun
After a certain point, racing was no longer fun.
Racing cyclocross, which should be the most fun you can have on two wheels, became one of those life struggles that defined me as a person.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on with this, and it’s not just about bike racing.
I have my struggles with depression and anxiety wrapped up in these feelings and attitudes.
Asthma Has Been a Limiter
Several years ago, I was struggling in races, not having much fun, and realizing I couldn’t do this anymore.
I was ready to give up cyclocross.
My asthma, which I’ve had since childhood, made every race a crapshoot.
Maybe I’d be okay, maybe after five seconds after the start, I felt like I was suffocating.
It didn’t seem worth it to continue to train as hard as we do and be unable to race.
However, I’ve been working on breathing techniques with some success.
More on that later.
I’m Going to Make it Fun Again, Damnit!
But I came back to it because I knew it could be fun again.
Four years ago, I was in Iowa at Jingle Cross.
I was keeping it light, singing a Cure song at the start.
When the gun sounded, the guy next to me couldn’t clip in right away.
Since I was singing, I was a half-second late, and as I clipped in, the guy’s wheel hit mine, and my foot went into my fork and twisted it hard
I broke a bone in my leg.
That was the end of that cross season.
Three years ago, I resolved again to have a change of mind.
That summer I broke my arm in two places and needed two surgeries to repair it.
That cyclocross season was over.
Two years ago, I was ready again.
I was doing soccer field sprints in August and feeling pretty good.
My rear wheel came out of the dropouts. (I must not have tightened the quick release enough.)
I came to a complete sudden stop, endo’d, and landed on the ground, breaking my collarbone.
That season was over too.
And last year, well, we all know what happened last year.
This All Feels Different
This year feels different.
I’ve done a lot of bike training, strength training, and a lot of yoga.
My mental health and attitude seem steady and optimistic.
I’m excited about racing hard, not racing to win.
I’m excited about having a blast on stupid cyclocross courses that are challenging and dumb in all the best ways.
And I mean that in the best possible way.
It looks amazing.
I can’t wait!
Wisconsin Cyclocross Season Looks Fun
I’ll be doing the announcing at the Wisconsin Cyclocross series this season.
I hope to take lessons I’ve learned from years of listening to Kenny Labbe at the Chicago Cross Cup races.
It’s going to be a blast to be part of the traveling circus again.
I may not race every event.
I may just talk a lot, make jokes, tell stories, and talk about how amazing the community of cyclocross can be.
We start Saturday at Cross-Shooshko in Milwaukee.
Ride Screaming Into the Wind
Years ago, as a cat. 4, I was in the hunt for both the overall series and the state championship race.
My head got too much in the way, and I had a terrible race.
But what I remember the most is that the young man who won the race started with a primal banshee scream, and then rode away from us.
I’m not going to be screaming at the start lines.
But I want to have his attitude.
Just making jokes, talking with people, having fun.
Cyclocross is Serious Fun
Cyclocross is the most fun you can have on two wheels.
I just need to keep reminding myself of that every moment.
Help a brother out this year too.
If you see me grumping around, tell me a joke, remind me that we’re having fun!
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