Tag Archives: pensive

A Sudden Stop

1 Dec

I should have been wolfing down some oatmeal and mixing up bottles of Cytomax.

I should have been putting the bike on top of the car.

I should have been debating which base layer to wear under my skinsuit and whether the thawing mud meant I should run a different tire pressure.

Instead, I was watching my kid play with his new-enough-that-he’d-only-broken-one-of-them birthday toys and trying to find an internet feed of the World Cup CX race going on in Belgium.

I got sick a couple of years ago, wound up in the hospital for a time.  In part, it was because I raced when I should have rested.  The docs were firm on the risk of recurrence, that in the future even the slightest cold means laying off the bike almost completely.  So when I went to bed Friday night with tender sinuses and a scratchy throat, I desperately hoped it was the drier New England air and the woodsmoke from the fireplace and that I’d wake up ready to go.  It wasn’t, and I didn’t.  Sick?  No racey.

So there I was at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table, listening to the commentators on Sporza and watching the pros trudge through the sand dunes with bikes on their shoulders.

There’s a human fragility in us that most of us — especially bike racers — try to ignore, to ride through.  Otherwise, a bad crash renders you unable to sit in the middle of the pack or stay off the brakes through that slippery off-camber.  The weeks, months after my hospital stay were full of that fragility.  It lasted into the spring, when my teammates were adding intervals and hill repeats.  I felt funny on the bike, didn’t know if I really had a green light to push it.  Every twinge, every ache — the everyday sensations that come with impending middle age — they were like  a door creaking in another room when you thought the house was empty.  Just the wind, or something more sinister?  Is it back?  I was, bluntly, scared.

This cold last weekend decided to play with my head the same way.  Fever, chills, aches.  Just the cold?  Normal stuff?  Or did those openers on Friday do me in?  Is it back?

It’s not back.  It’s just a cold.  (One that is particularly vindictive, as I have been voiceless for about 36 hours now.)  But it stopped me in my tracks, and with that, cyclocross season is over for me.

The problem with never wanting to admit that a race is your last race of the season is that when it actually becomes your last race of the season, you haven’t prepared yourself for that fact.  So, unlike FatMarc, I haven’t managed to put the race wheels away yet.

Maybe next weekend.


NoHo: New England. Cyclocross. Fall.

12 Nov

Embrocation Cycling Journal has some delicious photos up from the Cycle-Smart International in Northampton, MA this past weekend.

So, so good.  I love the early-season races too, but late October and early November is when it really comes home for me.  That was when ‘cross got its hooks in.  To be precise, it was probably that double race weekend up in Vermont  where day one was a muddy, sloppy mess and I was terrified heading down this singletrack into a wooded gully with loose rocks at the bottom of the stream bed, terror that went away after my muddy feet flew out from under me while dismounting (who puts barriers on an all-weather running track anyway?) and I clocked the back of my head on the ground; we’ll call it the restorative power of a concussion but after that I just let it all go.  Bike wash at a self-serve car wash (yeah, yeah, don’t spray the bearings directly, I know), day two sunny and bright and I flatted out of my second race of the day after winning the Collegiate B’s (or was it the C’s?) without realizing it, the course was that crowded.

Not sure what that clot of run-on sentences means other than me working through anxiety that the season’s just getting to the good part and around here there aren’t many race weekends left.


29 Oct

Bill Strickland:

In many ways, I think mine is a typical and unsurprising story for cyclists, at least all of us amateurs. Not typical in the facts and incidents of my life, but in the sense that cycling becomes our life – the pattern and rhythm of our life is found on a bike, and the way we understand life, how we approach it (and retreat). Cycling becomes outlandishly central to who we are.


17 Jan

How can I feel like such a crap father for much of the day and yet this little beanbag of a girl seems like she’d rather sleep curled up on me than just about anywhere else?

Hoping she knows something I don’t.

Hoping this might mean I’m better than I think I am at other things, too.