Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holy 'Cross!

So after years of road fanaticism, and shameful ignorance of all things cyclocross, I finally went to my first cross race ever, the national championships, over the weekend, and boy, was I blown away. Fun, dirty, fast, and fun! Now, not to diss anyone who can climb six Alps in a single day on a road bike, much less in a lifetime, particularly since my own aerobic capacity maxes out somewhere south of a speedbump summit. But man, roadies are pampered like bloated emperors at a bacchanal compared to these guys! Wah, wah, I've gotta go 20 yards on a tightly packed dirt section without a suspension, I'm on strike. Wah, wah, I've got a puncture, get the team car up here and my rear wheel changed in 15 seconds or your sorry mechanic @#$ is *fired*! What about the poor cross SOB with a flat who has to schlep at top speed with her bike over her shoulder for a k and a half just to get to the neutral support station? Anyhow, I was deeply impressed.

I particularly had occasion to admire the sportsmanship, as one rider went down just below the stairs, skidding into the line of rider (literally) no. 2, no. 2 warmly extended his hand, and just as I had time enough to wonder "wow, that's nice, taking the time mid-race to help another guy up," said hand instead delivered a gentle dope-slap to the head of the fallen as he got up, and the boys proceeded apace upstairs. Beyond cool: the women's 65+ masters' national champion, who did indeed do the whole course alone and in damn good time to take the prize. I'm lobbying Mattel for a Cyclocross Barbie! So, I'm still shamefully ignorant about cross, but now intrigued. What the hell are you supposed to shout at these riders if not "Allez!"?

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