1) The greater the disparity between passing rider and the rider being passed, the nicer the passing rider will be.
What I’ve learned? No one with a degree of competitiveness likes to be passed. I don’t like it but it happens very, very, (very) often. So, for example, when elite men and women weave around me like the pylon that I am to them, they are super nice about it. They usually say something like, “Whenever you have a chance.” They know they’re passing. I know they’re passing. Let’s just make this happen. However, if the skill and fitness level are a little closer to parity, it gets a bit more frosty. Eventually, when you’re in the same class, with the same fitness, its a battle. But people that try to hold a spot against an obviously stronger rider, in a different category, aren’t in the right head space.
2) You can want something with every fiber of your being, but be completely powerless to have it. That day, anyway.
What I’ve learned? Ever tried to hold onto a stronger rider’s wheel in the wind, or up a gradual incline? At first you’re so close to that wheel that you’re rubbing tires. Then a millimeter of space forms. The millimeter becomes a centimeter. The centimeter a meter. The meter; minutes. Every cell in your body says ‘no’, but you watch that gap form, and then the wind comes in and that’s it. You don’t get to choose. Until next time.
3) LeMond was right – it never gets easier, you just go faster.
What I’ve learned? At this weekend’s Ride to Conquer Cancer. Every single person rides their own individual time trial up Mount Ventoux. It hurts just as much to be in sweatpants on the CCM as it does to be the pro on the whizzy bike. The pro just goes a lot faster. There’s something to be said about exposure to suffering, though, and you could argue that the pro is tougher because of prolonged time in that zone. And you’d be right, of course. They can deal better. However, if that’s the case, every person grinding it out on a 40 pound mountain bike is therefore that much more admirable for coping with it, ’cause it hurts them more than you.
4) A cyclocross race is the closest an adult can get to what it was like to ride a bike as a kid
What I’ve learned? It. Is. So. Much. Fun. Sure, it’s hell in an hour, but that’s the perverse pleasure. You don’t do it ’cause it’s easy, you do it ’cause its hard. If you wanted easy you’d never be a cyclist. But ‘cross is fun for more than just the grittiness of it. It’s fun because it is cycling’s punk rock cousin in town from somewhere cool. He’s got rad new gear you’ve never seen, drinks weird beer, isn’t afraid to go down in flames, and does things his way, no matter what. In a city with a big scene there’s always neat couples with cool little kids and single people that you’d probably marry. And if you don’t believe me, just google ‘Portland Cyclocross Halloween’.
Here’s some examples:
5) Everything I just said about cyclocross is completely forgotten the first time you smash your ‘hardware’ into the saddle trying to jump back on.
What I’ve learned? You’re cold and probably wet and your heart is pounding and you can’t breathe and your legs and arms are jello and you’re right in front of everyone watching. So you go to jump on your bike and what happens is that you’re exhausted and you pound your tackle into the inside of your thigh. Then you’re trying to clip in and pedal and you feel like you’re going to puke even more, for, like, five different reasons. That sucks.