With the Flu hitting me a few weeks back I sat out, from racing, Supercross. I recovered and got back to training but there was no racing on Thanksgiving weekend and thus I hadn’t done a two day weekend since Louisville, which meant 3 weekends off (sort of I did race Sly Fox CX on Sunday, the weekend after Louisville).
I was really excited coming into this weekend of racing at Ruts N’ Guts in Tulsa, OK. Though I was a little nervous. It felt like the first race of the season again for me and being sick left me questioning weather or not I was ready. I knew I had the form and thus set some high expectations for myself.
The whole Tulsa trip was a last minute endeavor for Doug and I. We originally planned on racing Warwick, RI NBXCX (we had our pick of three different races this weekend, Tulsa, Warwick, and Indiana). But with Doug heading down to NC for thanksgiving it made more sense logistically to fly to and fro for Tulsa. This cut out a ton of driving and I was able to book the whole weekend pretty cheaply. Flights to Tulsa were cheap, I figured no one comes here often, which was reaffirmed when we boarded our plane and it was only halfway full coming here.
Saturday was C1 day and everything was smooth getting here. Chris Kreidl, head mechanic for Maxxis Shimano based in Asheville, helped us out major by carting our gear from NC to Tulsa and is bringing it back and taking it straight to Hendersonville, for the NCGP next weekend.
The course was relatively flat but had some cool off camber features, little creek bed dips, an up and downhill sand section, and multiple sections where you could choose from a variety of lines. Rain was also coming down by 12pm but the grass was so thick and matted that the course never really got slippery, which was a darn shame!
The whistle blew and we were off. I quickly found the front and whole shotted then remained at the front for the majority of the lap before Danny Summerhill came to the front to assert his dominance. I stayed in the top 3-4 for the first 3 to 4 laps when I started to gradually feel worse and worse. I faded out the back of the front group. Then back to the chase group. Through the chase group. And dangled there for the rest of the race. I ended up 12, disappointed, and frankly a bit worried.
You would think that after racing at an elite level for the past 6 years or more I would have a better handle on how I psychoanalyze myself after a less than desirable result. It is really easy to jump to conclusions especially after having a few weekends off. My mind started to wander back and fourth, to both sids of the spectrum, stating “Maybe I didn’t train hard enough in the time off from racing I had” or reassuring myself and saying, “No. This is just a fluke. A body shock from not going race pace in a while.
These trying times are probably the hardest aspect of racing for me. The constant questioning, examining, reexamining, regret. I revel in the training aspect. I love the challenge of physical exertion, exhaustion, and depletion. If someone could tell me exactly what to do to be World Champion I am positive I could cross my t’s and dot my i’s and get it done. However, that is not how it works and I recon I actually like the current process better. The unpredictability that leads to micro adjustments in a training plan, taking into account almost every action you do on a day to day basis, and learning from different experiences. If becoming great was as simple as performing prescribed workouts on paper then a lot more people would be there. Though, the reward wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet and glory wouldn’t feel nearly as fulfilling. This is an all encompassing hold that cycling has on my life and just a few reasons I am still in love with the sport.
With Saturday in the books I was looking forward to Sunday.
The weather was much nicer, the 52ºF felt hot compared to Saturdays overcast 48º. The course was dryer and I opted to run LAS file treads, which is by far my favorite tire in the quiver. I love when it rains on Saturday then the track tacks up and turns into velcro on Sunday.
The whistle, followed by another whole shot. I stayed at the front again and could immediately tell today was going to be different. The front group got a small separation about 3 laps in and from there it was 4 of us being chased by Jamey Driscoll. We would put in digs to each other but it was no match for the guy that would win every 2hr cross race in the world if that was a thing. Jamey caught up and 4 became five.
It came down to the last lap and it was all about positioning into the last few corners. Travis Livermon had the lead until Tobin got by him in the 2nd to last corner to sweep the weekend. I brought up the third and final podium spot, with some regret but also a smile on my face because I confirmed that yesterday was a fluke.
It’s funny how I went from 12th to 3rd, battling for the win, and immediately my perspective changes. Instead of being upset about my legs I am now upset that I messed up a small 5 foot section in the sand, which dropped me back from 2nd to 3rd late in the last lap. This was the deciding factor on whether or not I was going to get the win or become 2nd or 3rd place loser.
Consequently, I go from hanging my head in disappointment of my physical performance to hanging my head disappointment of my tactical execution. It seems I will never be satisfied, though I think this fact makes me happy. Perfection is just a figment of imagination that everyone strives but and no one will ever achieve.