My performance this evening at Jinglecross was both a humbling experience as well as an affirmation that I'm on the right track post-injury. I pedaled across the line in 18th place, but nearly 4 minutes behind Katerina, which seemed like a truly incomprehensible gap in cyclocross. But then again, I knew what I was in for as I packed up my winter gear, unused for seasons and boarded a plane to Iowa City to race bikes, around a field, over obstacles and up Mt Krumpit with Christmas tunes in the background and an ominous forecast that left me scratching my head in indecision over wearing a windvest underneath my skinsuit or to double-up on chamois' just so I could wear my insulated tights. I'm not going to divulge which fashion no-no I went with for the evening.
To add the the absurdity is that I'm only two weeks into riding my bike after a series of crashes that left my left knee bruised and inflamed for weeks. The last time I really pedaled hard was at Gloucester, which had some exceptionally hot and dusty weather which makes if feel more like a couple seasons ago. Anyway, these are not excuses but simply the circumstances. So I had a pretty good idea that this weekend may leave me humbled, and in awe of my super-fast competition.
Which it has.
But I've been racing long enough to know that winning is a product of process (that takes years) and not this thing that just falls in your lap if you wish for it hard enough. Nor is it something your're entitled to, ever. So while I can't deny that I'm disappointed the only vantage point I had of the front of the race was from what I gleamed over the announcer's commentary--you know, they were quite a ways ahead--it's not something I'm dwelling on. I did what I could. I even had some fun.
In fact, I hit two important milestones today. The first, I ran up a hill and my knee didn't hurt. And since running is the worst kind of misery, I decided I wasn't going to run up the hill again and instead, ride up the hill (what a crazy idea in a bike race?!). So I did. I rode up Mt Krumpit the last two laps of the race, thus accomplishing something important in my book. Plus the excitement from the crowd was pretty awesome too!
So here's the important realization from the weekend.
I race for many reasons, some of which are the opportunities I have to meet new people, visit new places and experience the wonderful, absurd and truly miserable moments of life. This weekend I got the package. So thank you to the Stan's NoTubes family for the opportunity to race some cyclocross. Thanks to Russ, Anton and Maria for opening up your home to our team, and feeding us your homemade lasagna and soup. And a huge thanks to Kenny and Jimmie for doing the hardest work of all, relenting to my endless demands and complaints over tire pressure, prepping bikes and standing in that frozen field while we race in circles. You guys rock.