Last Sunday at Veterans Park in Charlotte was some of the most fun I have had in sports and I have been to a couple-three events over the last three decades. Sure, I finished well, second, in the CX4 cyclocross race. It was a breakthrough race and I am not quite sure what was different. Somehow I found myself near the front of the race early in the first lap which was new for me. In the previous four races I was dropped from the gun and as the field yo-yo'd I was somewhere in the middle of the pack.
But there was more than finishing place and that was only a feather in the cap of a day of biking and hanging with good people. There was a great vibe, great weather, great friends. I think a lot of us felt it. Dave, Joanna, Brett, and Erin--everyone seemed to be in great spirits no matter personal results. Josh, Angelina, and I couldn't let it go as we reveled in the post-race flow over fish tacos and margaritas in the NoDa neighborhood of northeast Charlotte. My hair was sandy. I mean seriously, sand-filled. My left elbow was lumpy from a cartwheel I managed to maneuver with a near perfect tuck where I landed on my back with my head in the sand, still clipped in with the bottom bracket of my bike pointed towards the blue sky.
This sandpit was more classically used for volleyball, but all traditional bets are off when it comes to cyclocross and we were riding through two, theoretically :), and carrying our bikes through the third pit because if you can ride through six inches of soft sand and make a 180 degree turn, well that's a neat trick. Now that I think of it, I'm sure someone can do it. There's is always someone who can do about anything on a bike, but consensus was that fastest way was to run the third sand pit as pictured above.
In Cross we run, ride, push, sweat, fall, gasp, and nearly puke over all types of terrain that one would hardly think to ride a bike. It is an absolute blast if you embrace it. I have only been at it for a month of racing and I am learning so much. Professionals and veterans roll through turns as if brakes never factor into how they cover the earth for an hour or less. It looks effortless like all great art does, but you have to know that inside these minds, muscles, and shifters flows the hard grinding work that only looks effortless. They have worked and worked and worked some more and it is shameful to say that it comes naturally and effortlessly, so I will neither say or write such fallacies. I have had that effortless flow from time to time in running and whitewater paddling and I intend to grow in the flow of off road cycling.
I have always shied away from mountain biking, but today my friend and Durham Cares teammate, DTallon, dropped off his mountain bike for me to borrow. Somehow, I gotta keep growing where off road cycling is concerned. If David (DTallon) had not lent me his cross bike last winter I would not be where I am today, enjoying a new discipline in what is still a new sport for me--riding bikes. Now David and I are running 1st and 4th in the CX4 point series and trying to get better every week, technically, mentally, physically.
This whole cyclocross vibe flows straight out of Durham too. We are well represented in the state-wide series. We have no less than four teams represented by our Bull City: Durham Cares, Garneau Custom, Bull City Cycling and The Regulators. We all train at Forest Hills Park and there are plans to unite the teams with something like a ghetto hat that reads: Forest Hills Posse. Look for it while sipping your next beer at Fullsteam.