Here’s mud in your eye

This may be a shot of my final cyclo-cross, in Memorial Park. I rode to the race, without a spare bike, and promptly flatted just a coupe of laps in. DNF.

This may be a shot of my final cyclo-cross, in Memorial Park. I rode to the race, eschewing a spare bike, and promptly flatted just a couple of laps in. DNF.

Cyclo-cross nats got off to a sloppy start today in the People’s Republic. I thought about motoring up to watch the industry race, maybe provide a little sage advice to the competitors — “Hey, that looks just like cyclo-cross, only slower!” — but chores got in the way.

I had to content myself with tweeting, “Guess how many guys in the industry race at CX nats will be riding steel bikes and cantis and win a free trip to are you fucking kidding me?”

Yes, I’m that old. Steel frames, threaded steerers, cantilever brakes, seven-speed freewheels, bar-end shifters, Lyotard 460 pedals with double steel Christophe toeclips and Alfredo Binda toe straps, Vittoria Mastercross and WolberCross 28 Extra tires, the works.

You see anyone riding a rig like that in Boulder 2014, you’ll know you’ve died and gone to Cyclo-cross Hell.

Still, it was big fun. It’s hard to believe I haven’t raced ’cross for 10 years — and even harder to believe that I haven’t attended nationals since 1999 in San Francisco, where I covered the race for a now-defunct sporting website.

I raced nats only once — in 1992, in Golden — and just missed a top-10 finish in the masters 35s. That was it for actually racing the sonofabitch. But I covered the championships in 1994 and ’94, in Seattle; helped lay out the 1997 course in Lakewood; and finally wrote up the race for the last time in ’99 at The Presidio.

It would have been amusing to old-school it at this year’s industry race — time-travel into the 21st century aboard the old Steelman Eurocross with its eight-speed Ultegra, Paul’s Neo-Retro cantis and Michelin Jet/Mud clinchers — but lord, would I ever have gotten my fat ass handed to me. They’d have been timing me with a calendar, and a paper one at that.

• Editor’s note: Unlike Your Humble Narrator, Cyclocross Magazine is on the scene.

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23 Responses to “Here’s mud in your eye”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    And you think you would have shaved a day or two off riding a plastic-fantastic, electronic 11-speed, disky-braked contraption? Perhaps if there were a lot of places you had to RUN WITH THE BIKE, otherwise….it’s all marketing. Today’s quiz – once the industry has milked everything out of ‘cross, what’s the next-big-thing they’ll start promoting?

    • hurben Says:

      Trials! Trials has always been the next big thing. When I was racing Motocross in the 70’s, every magazine swore that Trials was going to be the next big thing. You heard it here first folks, Bicycle Trials, get in quick.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Nope, it’s Enduro (with a capital E). All the cool kids are doing it. It must be ultra-hip, because I don’t understand the first thing about it.

      • Derek Lenahan Says:

        Yup, I vote with POG. The industry is gearing up in a big way, Avid is sure gonna miss this boat.

      • Jon Paulos Says:

        Yup, Enduro. The son was of the scorers at the Transylvanian Epic and told me that it was a big thing, very popular with them thar mountain bike stage racer types. And that’s where all the cool stuff emerges from nowadays.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Um, no, Lorenzo. I think I would have gotten my fat ass handed to me because I haven’t raced in 10 years, haven’t even done cyclo-cross in training for two, and gave up running a year ago due to knee problems.

      Running was the only edge I ever had over the roadies, damn it, and the Boulder course has a couple long trots. If I’da knowed I was gonna live this long, I’da taken better care of myself.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        “If I’da knowed I was gonna live this long, I’da taken better care of myself.”

        God, ain’t that the truth. Someone hand me another beer.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Everything’s bigger, hairier and closer to the ground. Time to take a rattle-can of Krylon to all the mirrors.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Take two Guinness stouts and call me in the morning.

      • Larry T. Says:

        OK, just checking. Has the gravel bike fad already come and gone? No running anymore for yours truly – I bullied my not-very-well-setup-for-it body into a sub 3 hour marathon and sub 40 minute 10K back-in-the-day by sheer force of will I think…at least that’s what the podiatrist implied when he told me to forget about every getting any better. Competitive cycling was the next challenge – one I failed miserably at though I ended up with a lifelong love of just riding the things.

  2. hurben Says:

    Did Enduros in the 70’s as well, just like Motocross except more holes to fall down & tree branchs to take you out of the saddle.

    Roger the running thing, after 40 years of competitive distance running, my knees have finally said Fuck you.

    Saw a great thing on the intardweb today

    “When I was a kid, I wanted to be older… This shit is not what I was expecting”

    I printed it out & hung it in the workshop.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I never loved running the way some folks did. In fact, in high school, I hated it (probably because I was already swimming a jillion yards a day and thought running in PE was overkill).

      But I got to appreciate it, even like it a bit, when I took up ‘cross. It helped in the couple of multisport deals I tried, and was a suitable alternative to the trainer in winter.

      Now that I dassn’t do it no more, I kinda miss it. Like slamming your hand in the car door, it feels so good once it stops hurting. …

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Running was great in grad school. I would finish up in my advisor’s lab or typing on my dissertation at about ten or eleven at night, run five miles, go home and shower and drink a quart of beer and collapse for the night with a book unrelated to my work. If I didn’t run or do something to relax , I couldn’t sleep.

        Nowdays, my knees and back tell me that running is good for occasional fun, but not very frequently. Plus, my running times can be calculated by calendar, not stopwatch.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      Only nice thing about hitting sixty this month is that I will now max out on the retirement multiplier at my place of work, i.e., 2.5 percent times number of years times peak salary (averaged over 3 years).

      That’s assuming of course that the company doesn’t fold, give the CEOs golden parachutes, and leave the rest of us holding the bag.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It’s always nice when that light at the end of the tunnel isn’t attached to an oncoming train, hey?

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Word, O’G.

        Interesting surprise. Just got a note from Maynard Hershon. He and Tamar are in Fanta Se this thursday and friday. I will try to get to see them.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Hey, cool. Say howdy for me. We stumbled across each other at the NAHBS in Denver last year, and he looked great. Ol’ Maynard just keeps on keepin’ on.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        I was fortunate enough to have, and I dare say smart enough to keep, a decent pension. I pulled the plug at 55.

        I am about 5 years ahead of Khal and Patrick, and the last ten years have been the best in my life. The light in the tunnel was on the caboose not the engine. The train slowed enough for us to jump on, and it has been a sweet ride ever since. Now, as long as the old body holds up long enough for my first century……

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Khal, just thought of it. Is your pension plan PBGC insured? Might want to ask if you are not sure.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        The LANS defined benefit pension plan, which covers me, is on the PBGC list.

  3. Andy Bohlmann Says:

    Well, I’m driving up to Boulder on Sunday to get a radiometer on Pearl St. Mine broke and is now useless. Not that it had any “use” in the first place but it was fun to watch.

    So, I’ll drop in on the bike race, ring a bell and give the Chief Commissaire a hard time. She’s from Texas and has worked two of my UCI races.

    I’ll be driving through Denver but since most pot shops are now out of weed….

  4. David R Says:

    Running? You can’t be serious… At 62 now I don’t even run to the bathroom.

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