Saturday, December 8, 2012

The end of the road

My cyclocross season had been a struggle. It almost felt as if the tribulations (#firstworldproblems) of my cross season were karmatic retribution for how smoothly my Mountain bike season went. I fully admit that one of the biggest issues was my own inability to let go of my goals when I was plagued with injury and illness and jest have fun riding. I couldn't let go of how I would have preferred doing and enjoy what I was actually doing. But after Woodstock I was actually looking forward to Indian Lakes. I had done well enough, felt strong enough, that I thought maybe I could handle the challenge of a double-race weekend and have some fun. Use that weekend as a building block to some hard training and try to make a good showing at the State Championship.

Then on Monday night everything shifted again. I was hanging out on Facebook and a relative posted an unambiguous status update that let me know my grandmother was no longer with us.

A bell that has been rung cannot be unrung.  I had just learned of my grandmother's passing through Facebook.

My Mom called me about 15 minutes later to offically share the news with me. The visitation was scheduled for Friday, the Funeral on Saturday. I cancelled the room I had reserved at Indian Lakes, and Morleigh and I spent the weekend in Wisconsin with family. The following weekend (Nov 17th) was the kick-off of the 9 day gun deer season, and I felt an obligation to make sure my father was not sitting alone on grandma's farm on the opening day of deer season. So I spent that Saturday and six of the next nine days chasing deer with my father.

Last March I had purchased a pair of tickets for my Mom to see one of her favorite singers, Andreas Bochelli, on Sun Dec 2nd. I bought the tickets without even thinking about cross, but even when I learned of the conflicting date it seemed like there would be time to do both, but as December approached and we started to work out the logistics, it seemed like it would be very hard to show my Mom a good time and also make it to Montrose to race. It was a confluence of familial responsibilities, if not a storm of them. I perhaps I could have squeezed space for myself to continue racing cross around those responsibilities, but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. So in the days leading up to my Grandma's visitation I decided the right thing to do was to hang up my Cross shoes for the season, spend November focusing on my family, and start riding again in December.

In addition, I was just burnt out. I did some Google mapping a few days ago and confirmed that Morleigh and I drove more than 3,000 miles to race about 100 miles in the WORS series this summer. This were addition to the local race at Palos, a pair of gravel metric centuries, and seven cross races. It felt like I just needed some time out of the saddle. So between the last race in Woodstock and November 27th I rode less than 10 miles in total, one day of commuting in the city to the loop and back. I started back up again on the 27th with a 20 miles outing in the blackness of rural McHenry County

Riding in the dark, after some time off the saddle, on a chilly night, in an area with hills, was disorienting. I did not know those roads well enough to feel totally comfortable being out there in the dark. It felt like I was going up hill and into the wind the whole way.

I did go to Montrose with my camera on Sunday.  I was able to shoot from the first race until the middle of what would have been my race before leaving to head out to the burbs.  I needed to get cleaned up and ready to be a good host for my Mom.  I wanted to make it a special night.  I know I missed an exciting finish in the Men's 1/2/3 race and the spectacle of the 4bs, but when my Mom said she had the experience of a lifetime it was a no-brainer.  I made the right choice.

So my next race is going to be the Barry Roubaix.  Lots of cold hard miles between now and then.  Time to HTFU and start over again for next year.  "You don't wrestle until you get tired, you wrestle until the Gorilla gets tired."

CCC#8 Woodstock

It’s been a long time since I have raced, a long time since I have written about racing. For those of you who have been keeping up with my season, you know it’s been at times challenging.

The next race in the CCC series was in Woodstock, which is where Morleigh grew up, and where her daughter went to high school. She had been looking forward to seeing me race in her “hometown” since the year before when medical issues kept her from coming to watch.

We spent the night in LITH, and went to a diner on the Square in Woodstock (where they filmed Groundhog’s Day), and had breakfast at a little diner on the town square. We then headed to the park.

We arrived during the middle of the men’s 40+, and while we were unloading the car I realized that I had forgotten my helmet. Under normal circumstances this would be a very bad thing, but given our proximity to the home Morleigh generously offered to run back and get it. I wasn’t too worried about not having a helmet, figuring I could borrow one from a teammate, but it’s always good to have one’s own equipment so I took her up on her offer and went about to take some photos of the men’s 30+.

I took photos of the men’s 30+, and by the time that race was done Morleigh was back with my helmet so I shifted into full race mode. Morleigh grabbed my camera and took a few photos of the women’s 1-2-3 while I was out warming up and trying to get into the groove. The field was relatively small and with my 3 points from the first race, I had a good starting position in the fourth or fifth row. When the whistle sounded I pushed forward, and as is typical moved up into the top 30 of the field. I was able to hold that position through the climbs in the woods, but once we were out on the flats behind the tennis court the long slow fall started once again. But this time it was a slower and more gradual slide towards the back of the field. Morleigh was there by the tent every lap with camera in hand capturing photos of me , my teammates, and our compatriots in the Men’s 3 who have been under-represented @SnowyMtnPhotos because I’ve “been busy”. I remember thinking on my first 2 laps that she was in a bad spot shooting into the sun, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to mess with her creative process by arm-chair photographing. She did get some great shots from that spot despite my fears, and moved around the corner and got even more great shots.

The race itself, removed from my expectations and desires for a top 20 finish, went well. I was stronger and rode faster than I had the week before, and finished about 10 places higher. On the last lap I was able to do something I had not done in a long time, I was actually able to make up a spot and reel in someone who had passed me earlier in the race. I don’t feel bad that was a junior who may very well have been in his first race longer than 30 minutes, because hey…It’s cross. It was touch and go after the last barrier because he was trying to close the gap, but I left it all on the course with a strong push down the hill, around our tent to the finish.

Morleigh was really excited about how well I did, I was pretty happy with how the race went, and it felt like I was starting to finally recover from the flu. We stayed around for two more races, the Men’s 1-2-3 and the women’s 4+/juniors races, and then we both ran out of steam. We love watching and photographing the 4s (it’s Morleigh’s favorite), but did not have the required energy. We returned home, napped, and then I spent the night and most of the next night editing. There were a lot of photos to go through, some of them very good.