It All Comes Back to This or Every CX Love Story Begins With a Single Hup

DCCX For me, these 4 letters embody many things. It’s where I truly fell in love with cyclocross. I thought I loved the sport before then, but immersing myself at the local level with friends put it on another level.

I remember watching the ’12 Rookie Race and thinking to myself that was something I definitely could do. But, I still doubted myself and always found some type of excuse not to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to compete in front of others. The fear of the “unknown something” was crippling. To those of you who’ve raced and thought little of the situation or process, this may seem a bit strange but it’s a reality for many out there and extremely hard to overcome.

Then, little over a year ago, I met a person who blew my mind. I experienced an awakening. In fact, we both did. It was as if I shed my previous self and emerged an enhanced version of me. I was able to feel and experience things in a way I didn’t know existed. And with these newfound superfeels also came confidence. I can remember sitting with her, last year, on the hill next to the trees in the ampitheater discussing the desire to race. In that inspiring conversation I went from, “I’m not sure…” to, “This has to be done.” I also remember us daydreaming about her and her son and #TheBug cheering me on—our two kids running up and down the tape ringing cowbells, being there at the finish to congratulate me no matter how I finished. There was so much more, all centered around this extremely familiar cyclocross race in DC. I’m sure you can see why this is has been so difficult for me to drop.

Well, obviously, things didn’t quite work out exactly to plan. However, what transpired this past weekend was definitely the sweetest scenario of all. Having my daughter there, alongside my parents, yelling my name, taking pictures, and waiting for me at the finish was better than I could’ve imagined. Post-race everything was happening so fast as I needed to get changed and ready for the rest of the day that I wasn’t able to process what had transpired. However, as I was writing the caption for the post-race photo my dad took of me and Syd, the feels and tears of joy finally joined the party. This was most certainly ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED and a couple of huge boxes crossed off the bucket list.

And while the desire for her to be there still exists and she still gets credit for being the impetus behind this project, this is unequivocally my journey and my own path. And honestly, I’m even stronger now for doing it alone. Okay, not completely alone, but you get the point.

 

DCCX Day 1: Debacle

Most of you already know—I left my shoes and helmet at home. I packed everything the night before but kept it all in the house. Why not pack the car? Because, those of us with crippling ADD and a touch of OCD need to see/check things multiple times to erase the self doubt that we already did something. I checked the bag to see if I packed said shoes and helmet, and I did. Then I promptly left it on the living room floor as I packed the car and left.

Got to the race with plenty of time to prepare and pre-ride only to discover not everyone made the trip. After the urge to lift the car and throw it across the parking lot subsided (BOREDOM SMAAASH!!), I changed out of my riding stuff and into my shooting stuff and proceeded to acquire race coverage for Day 1.

DCCX Day 2: Pre-Race

Considering this race was the keystone and genesis for everything, I absolutely MUST race at least one day. I was not going to make that mistake again. Especially after the entire internet and many here at the race heckled me. So, night before, shoes and helmet were packed in the car.

New to the morning CX race ritual was the addition of my daughter Sydney. #TheBug was perfect. Got up early, ate and was ready to rock. No issues here at all! Perfect assistant. Once at the venue, I had her hang out with @CXHairs Bill at the announcing tent voor a few minutes while I pre-rode the course.

Fact: My daughter is awesome.

DCCX Day 2: Race Details

Category: Men’s 4/5 Beginner
Start Time: 8:15 AM
Weather: 57ºF/Rain
Field Size: 120
Bib Number: 204
Start Position: Somewhere not near the front.
Course Condition: Tacky, lots of grip in some areas, but dry under the trees.
Tire Pressure: 26 front/29 rear

 

DCCX Day 2: Racing

I was far enough in the back that the start was more like a traffic jam getting moving than a race getting started. A slow rollout that kinda picked up speed to the first turn then died because uphill and grass and #allthepeople.

I was extremely cognizant of the going sections and the try and catch your breath sections. Although, most of the race was a going section but I was able to break them down into parts where I knew I had to charge back up to make sure I didn’t go WAY into the red too early and too many times.

Fact: I’m noticing the race is slowing down for me. It’s not just that I’m seeing things better it’s also not as frenetic feeling.

Also, I figured out on the pre-ride that coming up that slight incline before going down into the amphitheater and up that shitty hill that despite feeling like I was going to explode I had to throw it at least 3 gears harder to carry speed so I don’t come to a grinding standstill like nearly everyone else out there. Most times I was able to carry my momentum through the hill without having to stand.

DCCX Day 2: LAATSTE RONDE And The Race Voor 64th!!

I had been passing a few here and there but for the most part that course spread us out enough that sometimes it felt as though I was riding alone. As I came down the hill on the blacktop along the parking lot the I heard my name called out from a large portion of the crowd gathering at the crossing—perfect timing as I used the adrenaline flooding my bloodstream to turn it up more than a few notches. “CRACK-CRACK-CRACK! THUNK-THUNK-THUNK!”, the SRAM Force CX1 responded loudly and perfectly as it has each time I asked it to work. Hammering the rest of the way down the hill I caught a bit of air on what turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the course, that little pop as you entered the back section.

The CXOff: DCCX - Full Circle

After riding it during pre-ride, I ended up having to run the hill on the W after my front tire would wash out in the flour like dirt. | Photo: Ginger Huller

The grass was heavy at this point, wet enough to slow but not enough to be slick, save for a few spots. It was extremely draining and my legs felt more like cement than living tissue. After trudging through the back section, I tried to carry my speed past the pit and immediately up that first hill. I focused on driving that outside line and releasing my brakes early to again carry the momentum up the next hill and avoid the root on the right by hitting the left line—success. Each time up the stairs I’d begin double stepping the first then IMMEDIATELY yelling at myself to to “GO HAHDAH KID!!”, extending my stride to cover each one at speed. The effort is noticeable as you remount and rattle around through the gravel section just afterward. This time I had to be extremely cautious as I was definitely Zone 5 and struggling to focus—the bike didn’t want to listen to my suggestion of staying upright. The same level of focus was demanded as I rounded the sandy bottom turn before going under the now defunct (for us) flyover. Except if you finally remember to avoid it completely by taking the outside line and blazing that section faster than I had all race.

As I came up the switchback hill, I again took the outside line to carry the speed without making that sharp momentum killing turn, passing a rider in the process. This lit up those watching behind the tape with everyone screaming my name and telling me to GOOOOOOO!! Despite the jump in awesome my legs were done, completely non-responsive. Again, and thankfully voor de last time I managed to carry as much speed up the hill but not enough to keep me doing so quickly. As I was coming up through the pit area, the Crosshairs crew working the crossing saw the duo I felt behind me were about to catch me—again the yelling started. “C’MON BOREDOM, YOU CAN’T LET ‘EM CATCH YOU!! GOGOGOGO!!” It was at this point where I discovered the heretofore unknown Zone 6. I shut the door at that corner hill but couldn’t keep the turn as hard as I wanted, leaving that fuggin’ door ajar. Cursing my gaffe, I dug deeper than I ever had before desperately trying to keep the chasers on my six. My reward was coming across the line well before them to the cheers of my daughter and my parents—64th place was mine!

Pure OVERWINNINGS.

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Wait, WTF is The CXOff?

The CXOff Project is a culmination of numerous elements of my life coming together. Bloglife (reviewing product), a midlife crisis need-to-race-now alert, a daughter who wants cheer on her dad, and a special person who sparked a life altering, emotional transformation within myself. For all the details, visit the Official Project Launch post.

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