It is rare, if ever that someone says "I think I'll practice being humble today". We train our weaknesses except for the biggest weakness of all - humility.
I had a bad week last week, at least in regard to riding or training so by the time round #4 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cross series rolled around on Saturday, I was ready to ride. I put together a temporary geared CX bike (my Vassago Fisticuff isn't quite ready) for use in the Master's race and even though I rode it some before the race, I really hadn't ridden it yet. The weather forecast was nasty - rain and falling temps throughout the day. Considering that most of the MSG races for the past 3 years have been under ideal conditions, I think many people were ready for some good, old fashioned Northern Belgium type cyclocross weather.
I got dressed and began to warm up for the Masters race. The ground was soft and muddy in places but not bad, the temps held in the 50s and it wasn't bad once you started pedaling.
That would change as the day progressed.
Almost immediately after the start of the Masters race, I didn't feel so great. The course was really tight in places and required a lot of sprinting out of corners. Going into the first set of barriers, someone tripped and I almost stepped on him. I remounted near the back of the field and put my head down and tried to have a go. It wasn't happening. After what seemed like forever, I came around and saw 6 laps to go. Shit! I thought and I felt like quitting. By then, I was in what I assumed was last place and couldn't hold anybody's wheel. I felt bad. Somewere along the backside of the course, I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to stop, I was going to ride as fast as I could and let the chips fall where they may. After all, this is just training for me anyway. I am not competitive in Masters - yet....
Six laps took an eternity to complete but I did complete them and I was surprised later when I found out I got 14th which was one up from DFL. Still not what I wanted though, I headed off to think about what just happened and get ready for the Singlespeed race that was coming up. It was getting colder and raining off and on. It started raining as I began to warm-up for the Singlespeed race and I really wasn't happy. I considered not taking the starting line but like in the Masters race earlier, I made myself go. I actually got a great start and came around the first set of corners in about 5th or 6th place, right behind Andy Applegate who just got second in the Pro 1/2 race. I knew I wouldn't be around that neighborhood for long though so I tried to hang in as long as I could.
To add insult to injury, on the 4th lap of the race, a rain drop hit me square in the eye and knocked out one of my contacts. Confirmation that this was some kind of cosmic Punk Duckman day. I had a hard time with only one contact. It drove me nuts.
I did fade but not as bad as I did in the Masters race and ended up somewhere around 15th or 16th by the end of the race. Cold and frustrated, I returned to my pits to pack up and go home.
I don't really know what happened although I can point to about 5 things that contributed to a bad day at the races but I think I got the take home lesson. Bicycle racing is tough and you may have one good day out of plenty. You have to deal with failure for more than success (unless you are extremely gifted - I am not) and that's just the way it is.
In the end, I am thankful that I am able to do the things I do and even though the day didn't go the way I would have wanted, it was still a good day.
Next week: The UCI CX race in Hendersonville, NC.
I am a glutton for punishment.