Photo credit: Dave McElwaine
I suppose it takes really bad days in the office to make you fully appreciate the good ones. Or really rainy and gloomy days to make you appreciate sunny blue skies. How about really delayed and crummy flights to appreciate when a flight is flawless and maybe even early, wha? Running in a cotton shirt as opposed to wool? Bong water coffee to fully appreciate a most excellent cappuccino. For me, it is the really good races and training rides that get me through some terrible days on the bike. It is remembering what 'good' feels like, and when you can't quite pin 'good' on a bad day, it is holding onto the good through the bad days.
Saturday was the Gran Prix of Gloucester, or New England Worlds. The race is historic - the bread and butter of cyclocross in North America. It is known for it's unmatchable venue, right on Glastah Hahbah, as well as for it's unpredictable weather. There have been years of snow, where hell has frozen over. There are rain sodden years. There are years like last year, my inaugural Gloucester, when it was beautiful and sunny and warm. Saturday started off rainy, then it grew rainier before breaking into more rain, which led to some more rainy weather, ending in rain. I won't lie - one reason I live in Colorado is because I need 360 days of sun. When I visit VT, I leave feeling a bit depressed from crummy weather. But I do enjoy muddy cyclocross...that's what it's all about. I don't enjoy the cleanup or the amount of times you end up changing clothes, but when the action begins and you're slip sliding away, it's pretty rawesome.
...Except for when you're getting your arse kicked! The start at Gloucester is at the base of an uphill drag of 300m or so, that shoos you onto the grass. I absolutely loved the start drag last year, but today I couldn't move my legs quick enough and entered the course in about 15th. The race started without me or something. I ended up fighting my way through some people throughout the switchbacking slickness. But when we hit the run up my legs were stiff like 2x4s, and I felt like I was back squatting my way through the course. All in all, my legs were just slow, heavy, and powerless. I felt like I was giving er' out of every corner, but getting nothing out of my attempts to accelerate. My mud riding wasn't too shabby, I was riding relaxed, and staying on my bike, but I was going nowhere fast.
The heavy mudified course resulted in long lap times, about 10-12 minutes per lap, and we only ended up racing 3! But when you're feeling as ugly as the mud looks, a 36 minute race is long enough!