January 14, 2012

Gratitude + Cyclocross Nationals

Nationals were..... a roller coaster.  The thing with cyclocross is that you never know what is going to happen.  You have to celebrate the ups and learn from the downs - and keep on smiling!

My first race, Masters 30-34, my derailleur exploded right after the pit and I had to run way too far to get another bike.  The mud was like peanut butter and it paralyzed my pulleys and ripped off my derailleur.  I was heart broken. For the previous 13 months, I had trained specifically for that race.  I wanted to be on the podium.  I could have been on the podium, but I didn't switch bikes when I had the chance (mostly because I am stubborn and like riding my "A" bike better) and as a result, I crossed the finish line, holding back tears.  But, that's cross and I love this sport... so I wiped away the sadness and got ready to help my teammates and prepare for my second race.

The second race, the Elite Race, went better - but it wasn't magical.  I rode as hard as I could, but got tangled up at the start behind a crash and had to chase hard.  I rode a good race, but not great.  I crossed the line in 23rd place.  I started in the 6th row.  I had moved up, but I wanted top 20 and that just didn't happen.  It was a good race, but not my best race.  One is supposed to race their best at Nationals, right?

As I cleaned up and prepared to work in the pit for the Men's elite race, I had to remind myself that you can not define your self or your season by a few races, you have to look at the whole.  I had a great season, rode well and strong and saw huge improves over the previous year.  I won the Cross Crusade Series and earned some UCI points. I had a great season and am already looking forward to next year! Athletic potential comes with continued dedication & incremental improves. 

After the last race was over and the 2011 National Cyclocross Champions were crowded, we (Matt, Damian, and I) grabbed the flask and headed for to the “After-Party”.  I was surrounded by good friends.  After a conversation with one particularly Kind Spirit, my 2011 Nationals experience was put into perspective; I was thankful for the ability to do this thing we call cross, to be a part of this unique and special community.

I want to race fast, but racing fast is not why we do this thing.  The reason is far bigger.  We do this because we love it; because it makes our spirit soar and it makes us smile.  

Thank you to Lucas from Bike Around Bend for sharing this TEDx video with me.  It is 10 minutes long, it is worth it.  Take the time, sit with someone you love and soak in the words and the images shared by Louie Schwartzberg.