so, cyclocross.

The short-track test race was a musculoskeletal failure. But that was a whole month ago, plenty of time to forgive and forget and do penance/PT. There’s also the fact—pointed out to me by my housemates, all of whom managed to notice this even while watching football—that because I cannot do the simplest goddamn piece of wrenching unsupervised I finished the course at McLaren with my saddle slipped backwards to an angle that would probably have broken Nina Caprez‘s hip, never mind mine. That’s not exactly setting myself up for success.

So last weekend I picked the quietest, smallest, least intimidating race on the calendar (i.e.,not Murphy’s), watched in predawn awe as George Tetris-ed three bikes into a Honda Fit, and went to Orangevale. It looked like this (to a drone):

I found cross racing largely as I’d left it: I got stressed out by the techno and the hecklers and thought maybe I was taking things too seriously; I saw a six-year-old warming up on a trainer, front wheel propped up on her overturned car-seat, and thought maybe I wasn’t taking things seriously enough. I rode geometrically irrational lines on the grass and I did all my remounts at a complete standstill. That was always my M.O. The updated analysis?

  • I considered crying when the cards showed six laps to go. Conclusion: I am not very fit.
  • Despite this, my final lap benefited so much from my joy at the prospect of leaving the park to go and eat waffles that it was actually my fastest. Conclusion: I love Black Bear Diner and am not riding at my limit.
  • The woman in front of me finished more than a minute ahead. Conclusion: Eh, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I did.

Obviously, if the only value I derive from competition is in the results, I should cash in my gene lottery ticket and get the hell out of endurance sports. But of course there are many other reasons to race, and thanks to years of babbling on the Internet I’ve got written evidence that those reasons have trumped the pain and the early-morning alarms and the entry fees before. Now, though? Mmmm … unclear. Ask me again when it’s too rainy to ride mountain bikes.

PT addendum: Hip and knee seem OK, which is really, really awesome. On the other hand—nope, can’t take me anywhere.


tl;dr: I raced, I broke, I moped.

It’s been … going on three years since I’ve stood on a start line, and I’ve been thinking lately about giving it another try. When I saw this—

—I figured it had all the makings of the right opportunity to dip a toe in the water/tire in the dirt/whatever.

  • Date: The weekend I was supposed to be getting my armor and my bro on at Whistler. I had to cancel last-minute and was on the market for a replacement distraction.
  • Location: BART-able, sparing me the indignity of chatting up carpools.
  • Format: A rare occurrence of short track, my favorite thing ever. Short track is cyclocross stripped of the stupid, contrived requirement that you get on and off your bike and, worse, carry the damn thing around, often uphill. (Yet NorCal has a five-month CX calendar and, like … two short-track events a year. Why?)
  • Course: Not terrifying, eliminating the 50-75% of my race jitters usually attributable to the possibility of cracking my skull open.
  • Forecast: Highs over 80°F—the threshold at which I start to gain an actual, physical advantage over white chicks. I’m not joking. Heat’s tough for everyone, but I’ve consistently found that even a half-dose of pigment means I’m often the only one in my field not literally burning.
  • Entry fee: Easily rationalized as a donation to the worthy cause of resurrecting an urban bike park.

So … I went. There were few surprises: I got super nervous, blew up after the first lap, phoned in the next two, finished ahead of anyone with a dualie or a sense of humor and behind the born athletes. Felt like old times, really.

Unfortunately what also feels like old times is my hip, which has returned to radiating total wretchedness—that feeling that I spend 18 months beating back with PT and NSAIDs. So it would appear that the options are:

  1. Ride hard, hurt constantly.
  2. Go slow, live normally.

Leaning Option 2, right now, alas.