Today I fought gravity, and gravity won.
I raced the 50-54 cyclocross nationals today in Verona at Badger Prairie Park. The course, which I've always hated, was muddy, icy, snowy, and wet. Twenty inches of snow had been plowed from the course, and what was left was starting to thaw.
When I got to the course, Hans Haupt told me to go ride while the course was open. I couldn't believe how much fun I had. I had already been stoked to race in the snow and mud, but I was actually having fun on this course.
I did two laps, careening wildly and mostly out of control down the hills. Brakes be damned. It was a hoot.
I had hired a professional mechanic, Mike Teff, so while I warmed up, he washed and tweaked my bike. I started in the third row, wearing, of course, nothing on my legs except my wife inc embro! I felt great at the start, excited, laughing at myself for the insanity of wanting to race in these conditions.
There was a tough crash right away in the race. Two guys hit the pavement hard, and I barely got around them. Missing that crash, though, caused me to slam the brakes and end up at the back of the field.
My legs felt awesome, and I moved safely through the carnage of the first lap, and by the end of the lap, I was well within the top 20, close to top 15 or better.
That's when the earth's gravity increased.
I crashed hard on the greasy downhill, doing an endo that got clapping and cheers for my style points. I even crashed uphill in the loose snow.
I was still having fun, but the crashes were taking some fun out of it.
Then I crashed hard on two separate corners in two middle laps. The course had started to freeze in places where it had just been muddy, and lines I took safely and quickly now landed me on the ground.
How ironic that last year, we got pulled after two laps if you were outside the top 20. Today, I did all five laps and finished over an hour for a 45 minute race. By the last two laps, I was ready to be pulled! I couldn't feel my hands any more since my gloves had been soaked with mud. It also started to rain!
So I finished. The last race of my season finished with extra gravity. It's been a very up and down year, pun intended, with some great results (five different top 5s, two podiums). I've been mostly happy with how much progress I made this year, thanks to Brian Matter, my coach at Momentum Endurance.
My body will be a lovely shade of purple tomorrow. I already have a lot of hematomas forming on my knees and hips. Even my skin suit has a hole in it!
The washing machine just finished the load of laundry with a double rinse. Dinner is done. No way am I doing the dishes tonight. Time to sleep.