I didn’t plan to make it this far in to ‘cross season. The original fame was supposed to rigged with 28c tires full fenders and a compact crank. Michael Barry style. The plan was to do a few of the Blind Dates and then start my base miles. Now I’m at the end of a nearly full season of cyclo-cross, and a little ashamed to admit that I am hooked.
Hooked enough that I am planning one peak for next road season, for Baker City, before focusing on a full season on the on 33c tires.
I said I would never do this shit. I said that I had spent enough time being cold wet and miserable when I was climbing. I didn’t need to epspend an hour riding around in the mud to prove that I was a hardman. I had already done that for myself, and I certain my don’t need to be doing it for anyone else.
I can’t put my finger on what it is.The biggest thing, or at least there one that stands out to me, is trust. That and commitment.
Trust: I am not a great bike handler. Honestly, the road racing in these parts doesn’t demand it. Some of the crits do, but the road races? Nope. The trust factor didn’t occur to me until this past week, when I was forced by some great teammates to pick a line and trust myself enough to commit to it. We were riding one of the off road circuits in PDX, the one with the BMX dirt jumps. JT and Joe were dropping in and going over one set of jumps on the course on the  ciruit. We were playing follow the leader. I chickened out and skipped it. They weren’t having it and forced me to turn around and ride again… and again … and again. Just like the Butcher and Jackson made me do years ago when were riding Ray’s all the time.
I ride the brakes a lot. I do it because I don’t trust myself to not go over the bars, or to stay up the right in a muddy corner. So that I slow down. Which means I could be going a lot faster and finishing a lot higher thank currently am. I don’t trust myself and it prevents me from reaching my potential. This doesn’t just apply to racing.
Saturday was the firsdt time I rasced in truly muddy conditions. I still used the brakes too much, but I did allow the bike to drift in some corners, and instead of panicing I let the bike drift and trusted that I could get myself through it with out bidding the ground. That allowed me to gain some places. I lost some of those places in other moments after making mistakes. Those mistakes happened because I lacked trust.
That’s what I’m getting out of this ‘cross experiment. Hopefully I can start extrapolating and apply these lessons to the things that matter.

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