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.