Any one who knows me, on a bike, will be able to tell you that I am historically lacking in off road abilities. The few Mountain bike races I have done have resulted in an average crash frequency of twice per lap. Oddly this is unaffected by the length of a lap; perhaps I should consider events with longer or fewer laps. I often attribute my inability to remain upright not to a lack of skill, rather to the fact that I am going way to fast.
Like many my first bicycle adventures where off-road and my first bicycle races where MTB races. My skills were sound, I was confident and would rail any trail as fast as I could. So what happened? I got faster that's what. When I began racing on the road the mountain bike began collecting dust. I decided to get serious about this sport. With training and dedication I got stronger and faster, but while my mountain bike collected dust my skills on dirt remained the same. Before long I was faster than I was good at riding off-road.
Last year I bought myself a cyclocross bike as part of my winter training strategy, and then shortly "caved into" racing in the fall. The shortest definition of a cyclocross race is: an off-road race on modified road bikes, inwhich the coarse is more difficult to negotiate the faster you go. What began as a no pressure method of keeping fitness soon became warped by my hyper-masochistic-competitive side. I now have to remind myself that it is the off-season. "Piloting" has remained a limiting factor. So this fall anytime I went for a ride, I jumped on my cross-bike and hit the mountain bike trails. The goal was to become fluid, working with the laws of physics rather than against them.
One of my off-road goals this fall was to attack the provincial championships with everything that it deserves. This goal was shared by many Saskatchewan Cyclists and the racing proved to be both aggressive and tightly contested. Like any cyclocross race it began with an eye popping sprint for the hole shot. Position is critical from the start as a mistake made by you or anyone else could be very costly to YOUR race. A group of about a dozen remained in tact through the first of five laps.
On the second lap the fractures formed. Four leaders were established and no one was letting up. At the front of the race I was riding with Steven Cooley (Bike Doctor Saskatoon), Kevin Wiliams (Bike Doctor Saskatoon) and Jaden Aldrich (Fresh Air Experience). Stephen Cooley was forcing this race to happen! Kevin was the first to fall of the pace, later followed by Jaden. I am convinced that Stephen eats nails and drinks vinegar.
Stephen and I entered the third lap at ten paces with pistols loaded. The resulting duel was one of ferociously forced physical obedience. With Kevin and Jaden chasing our race could only move forward. We road often shoulder to shoulder forcing the pace and the limits of the course. With no mercy available from either contestant, the smallest slip was capitalized 10fold. The lead changed several times as we went shot for shot over the next three laps.
With two laps remaining the clash raged on, and my body tried to get the better of me. A decision had to be made. The energy began to flow, I would decide when this race ends not my body. Stephen and I raged for two more laps, as my senses no longer perceived time and space beyond the track ahead of me. With 500m remaining I pipped Stephen on a steep uphill corner for a ten yard gap. I then defined anaerobic metabolism, as I could not afford to breathe nor look back. When I saw the line between my toes my hands went up, and I stood on the podium
Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.