The Legs to Race. The Passion to Win.
Fall means one thing to a knobby tire fanatic. Cross season. Just when I thought my racing season was over, after successfully obtaining enough race points to upgrade to Cat 1-2, I found myself eager to mix it up with the bad boys of 'Cross. The early season rains brought ideal conditions for some real cross racing to the Bay Area. I figured my fitness level would make up for any lack of any serious cross training I had under my knickers.
Two weekends ago brought races both Saturday and Sunday. I lubed up the old Time Cross bike, kitted up and joined the sloggers of rain, mud and rocks. A little context. In cyclocross (CX) racing, you race in a circle, completing laps over a relatively short course. It's not enough to ride a bike fast to win. Each competitor has to contend with a series of obstacles, requiring riders to dis-mount, carry and run with the bike and then remount in one ‘smooth’ motion.
(BD shows us all how good technique pays off with style)
As a shop owner whose priority is not racing but building a community and business around cycling, I can tell you one thing: Racing against other racers who dedicate much of their life to training, a proper diet, and so on, is no easy task and many times daunting. The passion within ourselves, the passion to win, however, is sometimes more influential than the body’s physical ability to deliver results.
(Photo Credit: JN)
Proof in point. While I was less trained this year than last year, I was more mentally focused. And it worked. I won Saturday’s Master B race at Cow Palace and then won again during Sunday’s Open Cat B race at the BASP race #2 Coyote Point. With two wins under my belt, I decided to move up to the Master 35+ A’s for last weekends race at Sierra Point. I knew I had little chance battling against the big boys of CX with my level of fitness this season, but I figured the only way to improve was to take a chance and throw my helmet in a more competitive ring. If nothing else, I knew I would get a sense of what lay ahead next year. I finished 11th!
I know that many of our clients do not race. And I hesitate to write about my first-hand experience racing, whether in cyclocross, road or mountain bikes. But I sometimes get asked many questions about my time out racing, competing in local and regional events, and I thought these past two weekends of racing have enlightened me to why I race, to what drives me on race day, and to what extent I should share these experience with my friends and clients who are beginning to enter racing or who, in their own way, on their own ride, race each and every day. Sunday rides, race commutes. Are they much different?
(This doesn't look like less passion to me. Last Sunday Group Ride)
To pass other races swiftly and safely at the race start, to keep your head on straight in the chaos that surrounds you, to keep your breathing under control, to stay upright while bumping elbow, to not flat, and to keep enough gas in the tank is a bit of what it takes to win any CX race. All the while, the physical fatigue of working a 50+-hour workweek begins to set in. You dig deeper and deeper and you remind yourself that this is what you love to do.
(A photo from our other passionate Studio Velo racers - BD Photo Credit)
In a way, it's very similar to what it takes to finish a long distance ride, a hard hill climb and a technical mountain bike loop. When you've pushed yourself to the brink and your thinking starts to get fuzzy and legs less than stable, you can rely only on one thing: The passion to ride, the passion to win, whether it is against 90 other races or yourself. My personal passion to win is rooted in Studio Velo’s passion as a business, a community, and a hub for cyclist.
I'd just like to thank our Studio Velo clients for being a significant part of the passion and excitement that is at the heart of our business.
(a follow up to this article, The Desire to Win: Using your mind on Race Day, appeared 1/8/2012