Funny cyclocross advice...

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
'Cross My Heart and Hope to Die: A BSNYC Cyclocross Primer

Cyclocross is the opposite of sex--if you're doing it right it hurts, and it's only fun before and after. In my time racing cyclocross I've learned some tips for dealing with that nasty in-between part, which I present to you herewith. I won't say they'll make you a better racer--the way I race puts the "can't" back in "cantis"--but I guarantee they'll make you a better loser:

Know When And Where The Race Is

Eddy Merckx famously said, "The Tour de France is won in bed." Cyclocross races, however, are not won in bed, since misreading the schedule, sleeping in, and arriving after your race has begun tends to winnow your chances down considerably. Furthermore, as I've cited before, Woody Allen once said, "90% of success is just showing up." Of course, that still leaves a 10% window for failure, since I've showed up at cyclocross races and not succeeded innumerable times. I will say though that 100% of failure is not showing up, because it's tough to be competitive when your race is starting and you're 30 miles from the venue because you Mapquested the wrong address.

Don't Pre-Ride the Course

Yes, you read that right. While this bit of advice flies counter to every bit of cyclocross wisdom you're likely ever to hear, I've always believed that courting common wisdom is the path to complacency. I find that going in cold and flying blind can take the edge off the searing pain of those first few laps, since you're too busy being surprised to focus on how awful you feel. And dreading that terrible run-up for a half a lap can be demoralizing, while the shock of suddenly discovering it can give you that extra shot of adrenaline to get you over it. Complete unfamiliarity with the course can turn a killing field into a haunted hayride teeming with fun-filled surprises, thrills and spills at every turn.

Do Not Have a Pit Bike

This is another counter intuitive tactic. If you're like me, a crash or a mechanical problem comes as sweet relief. It's like a fire drill in school during a test. Suddenly, the pressure's off and there's no more pressure to perform. On the other hand, having another bicycle in the pit so that you can make a quick bike change and continue to race only expands the vast horizon of opportunity for you to lose. It's like getting one of those flu shots they give out at the office—how are you going to call in sick for a week when everybody knows you're immune? Never squander your inventory of excuses.

Get a Bad Starting Position

There are few things as embarrassing as getting a great starting position only to drop through the pack and completely fall apart on the first lap. Not only do your fellow racers notice, but so do the spectators. It's like you're an Alka-Seltzer and the race is a big glass of water, and everybody gets to watch your effervescent, frothy demise. But if you start the race in the back, you have nowhere to go but up. If you finish DFL, you can blame your start position. If you finish strong, you can point out how many places you had to make up and how high you would have placed if you'd started up front. Everybody hates a sandbagger, but everybody loves an underdog.

Constantly Re-evaluate Your Goals

As in everyday life, it's important to rationalize and to temper your expectations. Certainly you should start the race expecting to finish well. However, if you cling to that expectation you'll only be disappointed. So take the time each lap to analyze your position and re-structure your goals. If you find yourself slipping back, try to keep the guy behind you from passing you. If he does, try to hold his wheel. If you can't, repeat with the next guy. When there's nobody left, just wait, because eventually you'll get to experience the thrill of battling the race leader as you try to keep from being lapped. And if all else fails, comfort yourself with your superiority over the other riders in areas outside of racing. Sure, the guy who passed you just then was stronger than you, but there's no way he's better at cooking eggs than you. You're the Egg Master.

"Chunk" the Race

You may have heard of the memorization technique called "chunking," wherein you break large chunks of information up into smaller parts to make them easier to remember. Well, you should do that in cyclocross races as well. While a 'cross race seems short and appears to unfold faster than a Dahon on a Friday afternoon, it can feel like an eternity if you're actually in one. So like an alcoholic or someone getting paid by the hour to retile a bathroom, focus on completing one tiny section at a time. Like life, if you think about how much more you have left you can find yourself overwhelmed. Another "chunking" trick you can take from life is picking some small section of the course and convincing yourself you enjoy it. That way, you have something to look forward to each lap. It's like hating your job but looking forward to lunch.

Ignore Your Surroundings

As the race leaves you behind like a club-footed tuba player in a marching band, try not to pay attention to the announcer or the crowd. The announcer's spirited narration of the battle at the front will only serve to remind you how far back you are, especially when he starts describing the action on sections of the course you've just completed. Similarly, the crowd can be inadvertently discouraging as well. At first they'll cheer excitedly. But as you slip back the cheers become gradually less animated and more conciliatory, until they eventually devolve into the type of "you can do it!" sentiments generally reserved for "special" people, and then finally disappear altogether. Then, it's all about not getting passed by the riders warming up for the next race.

Have Fun!

That's right, this is supposed to be fun. So try to remember that as you struggle to keep your perfectly-cooked eggs down.
 

MMuller

Well-Known Member
well said

Based on this, my race yesterday was a total success! Including thinking the C race started at 10, getting there at 8:45, missing the start and having to race with B masters 35 guys! Oh, and whoever thought muddy, off camber rut covered grass could be so much fun. Seriously though, cool course, beautiful day. Always great to meet new people and see others from past events again.
 
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jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
I found this last year just after I started racing in the "Killer-Bees". I love the last part about not listening to the announcer or people cheering. It's spot on truth. I was going up the paved climb after the little off-camber zig-zag behind the dumpster when I heard the announcer talking about the winner and people cheering. I had at least 3/4 of a lap to go, you're just like:drooling: But FYI, I had a HORRIBLE start position:rofl:!!

-Jim.

PS-I also no longer have a pit bike;)
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
Lots of (funny) truth in there. And the guy can write. Good stuff.:D
 
B

ByMySide

Guest
true dat

Intelligently, humorously, and honestly on point. Thanks for an honest laugh.
 
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