Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Upping the ante

Cyclocross season will officially be underway this weekend.  Tough to think that all year long I've been thinking about 'cross season, training for 'cross season, not worrying about the now but always looking forward to 'cross season and now it is here. 

I've decided to expand my horizons this season; to make things harder on myself.  This weekend I (plus Jeff, Shelli, Todd, Charles, Golden and Owen) will head to Louisville, KY for the Derby City Cup, a USGP race, instead of heading to Raleigh for the opening two races of the NC Cyclocross Series.  We're upping the ante, expanding our little bike racing horizons in the hopes that we break through to a new level of racing. 

I'm just hoping to survive and not embarass myself.  This season for me is all about learning more about myself.  For me, pushing the limits of what I think I can physically accomplish is the essence of bike racing.  The beauty of turning yourself inside out seems masochistic to someone who doesn't know better, but finding the edge, going over it, and surviving is such an essential part of bike racing.  What saddens me are the cyclists who don't push themselves to the brink.  I once asked someone on a ride, "How do you know how far is too far until you go there?" 

I know that the bike as life metaphor is hackneyed, but it is also totally appropriate in the context of my life.  For me, the bike is a lifelong pursuit, an inescapable aspect of life.  I find my calmest and most meditative moments in the saddle.  This morning as I pedaled down the frost covered greenway, spooking rabbits out of the underbrush and trying not to slip out on leaves slicked flat with moisture and conveniently arranged just so in the turns, my thoughts unhinged from the stress and pressure of the day to come and my mind was free.  My legs pumped up and down, my heart pumped blood, my lungs took in cold air, my skin was alive with the cold air that struck it.  I inventoried everything within and without in rapid, subconscious fashion.  I was free.  For all of the time that I have ridden bikes, that feeling has never waned and it keeps me coming back for more.
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