2012 xXx Relay Cross

Most of the crew from the 4’s relay teams. Can’t wipe those smiles off even if you tried. – Alternate Title: Barron and the 6 munchkins L:R= Rob Haffey, Cory Brown, Ryan Handley, PSIMET, Jeff Sheppard, Barron Gira, Stephen Hardman

Yesterday I decided to go play bikes in the rain. ?It was fun. ?A lot of fun. ?Something I haven’t had a ton of on the bike in a few cross seasons. ?Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE cross, but the last few years I have loved everything EXCEPT actually riding the bike in a race. ?I alluded to it here on this blog a couple of years back. ?Just seemed like it had turned into the grind.

There’s so much time that goes into prep for cyclocross. ?Just think about how much time you spent putting everything into the car or packing it up into a bag – just for 1 event. ?Now….be me. ?The whole week leading up to an event I get a ton of, “hey can you throw in those skewers we talked about – I can pick them up from you at the race.”, and “I got a set of gloves from so-and-so. ?He lives near you and was planning on stopping by Wednesday because he says you need to glue his tires, he’s going to give you the gloves – can you bring them.”

This process?essentially?turns me into a giant delivery van, means that my mind is constantly elsewhere (worrying about what I forgot to bring), and generally robs me of my chance to enjoy the race itself – as I can’t concentrate on any one of the 200 conversations I tend to have on race day.

This then usually culminates in me ending up standing at the line without even realizing that I am about to bring myself to the edge of vomiting within seconds. ?Needless to say that first push from cold to really going/warmed up is a?torturous?process. ?I imagine it would be similar to having a finger or toenail slowly pulled from your body. ?It often means that by 2 long?straights?into the race I am already considering throwing in the towel, and I am looking for someone along the sidelines that will indulge my stopping and talking to them during the race. ?You’ve seen it happen. ?Now you know why it happens.

Well….I have done a fair bit of riding in the weeks leading up to this relay cross race. ?I knew it was time to get on the bike and try to get semi-serious about having at least a few miles in me. ?This last week was worthless, but the weeks leading up to it were 5-12 hour weeks on the bike. ?That’s roughly triple what I am normally able to do. ?Pathetic for sure, but amazing for me.

So as I sat in the pits waiting for Barron to come flying in with that thousand yard stare in his eyes – I wondered whether or not this last week of gluing sessions lasting until 4am were going to spoil everything that led up to it. ?The knots in my stomach, that nervous churning of gel and water, that slight need to run to the restroom, riders flying into the pits, heckling coming from the barriers….oh, sh**….here he comes….

GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO, shift, shift, shift. ?By the end of that first straight my heart was beating in my ears and the pain was starting to scream. ?A lot of non-cyclists might think the pain is muscle type of pain – it’s not. ?It’s the pain that comes from kick-starting your cardio system. ?It’s the pain of all of your blood vessels trying to?dilate?and handle the pressure and volume shift that you’re forcing it into. ?Sometimes it’s like forcing a square peg into a round hole. ?Other times it’s like a nice clearing cough or sneeze that leaves you feeling clear, clean and open.

By the time I got to the lake the first time I was ready to quit for sure. ?I was pissed. ?Same feeling that I always get when racing when so far out of shape. ?”Why do you think you can just come out here and do this! ?You need to lose 50 lbs! Sure you have excuses but so does everyone.” ?pain cave open. ?I’m deep inside it without a light when I hit the finishing straight. ?Only thing I can think of is getting off of my bike as soon as I possibly can. ?Luckily it looks like Barron is ready to go again.

That feeling you get after a cross race – that, “OMFG, my lungs are going to explode! Why does it hurt more now that I’ve stopped! DON’T TALK TO ME” feeling….yeah – I had it. ?A couple of minutes of chilling out and that smoothness came over me. ?I was ready to go again. ?It’s like everything shifted into high gear. ?What followed was another two laps where I felt more and more in the groove as I went. ?It was glorious. ?The tires were hooking up and I was throwing the bike where I wanted it to go. ?Lines were getting better and better and I was able to start switching off thought – instead going into that glorious space of no thought and only fluidity.

To say I was having fun would be an understatement. ?If I look at the pictures I can tell it was raining. ?I couldn’t tell at the time though. ?:) ?I love racing in rain like that.

I was very happy. ?Still am. ?Hell, I’m writing a blog entry and the morning after the race as well. ?That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Most of our Coed Crews. L:R= Jeff, Rob H, Ryan H, Karrie Ozyuk, Alan Stoughton, Me, Cory B, and Kaitlyn Bowden – her first cross race ever and first time riding her bike off of pavement. Notice the smile!

What was better was then being able to race the co-ed relay as well. ?Sue was my partner (whom I talked into running and riding the first leg – THANKS SUE!). ?I got to finish out behind Loren – sporting the skin colored boy shorts…..yeah…thanks for that Loren. ?I was actually looking to go again.

I am psyched. ?I am pumped. ?I love cross and I can’t believe we’re back on it again. ?It’s going to be a hella-long season for sure….but….I am going to LOVE it. ?See you out there. ?I’ll be the fat guy talking to someone with a big grin on my face. ?Have fun locked in your office today.

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