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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cyclocross Season, Fall 2011, Part 2: The Joy of Competition and Community

We're all wired differently; we all have different strengths and weaknesses; and we all seek fun and fulfillment in different ways.

Some of us are irresistably attracted to sport and competition, no matter our age.

For a particular sport, like cyclocross, there are those who want (even need) to be at the front, battling it out with others of the same ilk. These are the elites, whose dedication and talent the rest of us draw inspiration from.

Cat 1-3 (Elite) Men, Wednesday Night #4.

Lindsy Campbell rippen it at the front of the ladies race on day 1, Rolling Thunder.
Still others are content to be participants, a part of the scene, and could care less about how they finish.

Guido has been coming out Wednesday nights and competed at Rolling Thunder.
The rest of us fill out the space between these two extremes, trying to balance the myriad demands, pressures, and responsibilities of life with a desire to feel the rush of competition and a hard effort on the bike amongst like minded compatriots.
That's me racing Rolling Thunder on Sunday.

Jen from Helena, ?? from Bozeman, Jen Bardsley and Kellie Carim from Missoula.
A healthy community is diverse, a continuum from beginner to elite, because you need all types. Fortunately, cyclocross has that kind of diversity, and the best part is, off the race course you often can't tell whose a beginner and whose not.
This couple came over from Ennis.
Here are a couple of the fast ones.
Rolling Thunder was this past weekend in Missoula -- one of the best races anywhere. Most of the above pictures are from that race. Thanks to Shaun Radley, Ben Horan, and all of the other folks who put on a great race.

And the Missoula Wednesday Night CX Series, put on by Tim Bechtold and many other volunteers, is truly a positive force in our community. It brings joy to many, Jen and I included, in this in-between season of fall.

The Missoula CX community would not exist to the degree that it does without the efforts and vision of these people. So thanks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cyclocross Season, Fall 2011, Part 1: Wednesday Night Series #1-4

Wednesday night Cross #2. Muddy fun. You can see Jen in pink and Greg Hood in yellow. Photo by Tom Robertson.
In Missoula, we're lucky to have an active cycling community, with some enthusiastic, volunteer oriented people who are willing to put on low profile, low budget, mid-week (and weekend) races. These folks' only reward is the satisfaction of creating events for people like me to enjoy. Thanks for your efforts!

For example, this summer was the first year of a mid-week mountain bike race series up at Marshall Mountain. More recently, Missoula's Wednesday Night Cross Series has been going on for four straight weeks, drawing a sizable crowd of racers and spectators, even on cold, wet late-fall evenings.

It's nice to have an excuse, mid-week, to cut out early from work, put on my cycling clothes, jump on my bike, and head out to race. I've come to understand that racing is something I enjoy: pushing myself as hard as I can, 'mixing it up' with other racers, and basking in the post-race camaraderie after an hour of hard labor.

It's been an eventful cyclocross season for me so far. I raced Men's B during the first race and got second place, so I decided to move up to Men's A for race #2. But I crashed hard at the start of that race, bending my bars, ringing my clock, bruising my thigh, and gashing my shoulder, elbow and ankle. I've been telling people that I crashed 'like a 12 year old daredevil'.

So for the next two races, humbled, I dropped back to Men's B and have gotten second place in both races, beaten both times by a grad student at UM named Ian, seen in the picture below. Both times, on the last lap, on the course's one hill, he's passed me and I haven't been able to gain the lead again. But I don't care much about winning. I'm just glad to be mixin' it up with some strong riders, years my junior. And it's also nice to know that there are several guys older than me, in Men's A, that are kickin' my butt, so I know that there's room to improve.
Wed. Night Cross #4: the fellow in the background (Ian) passed me on the last lap for the Men's B win. Pat Scharfe photo.

Hanging around after the race. Photo by Alex.
Local Masters legend, John Fiore. Photo by Alex.
Going over the barriers. Photo by Alex.
That's me, all blurry. Photo by Alex.
Steve Amish and I after the race.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Season of Change

At the end of the Bob Marshall crossing, August 2011, one of the highlights of the year.
This week the first wet, cold weather of the year descended on Missoula and now there's snow in the mountains visible from town.

I've been struck lately with the changes that are occurring within and around me. A long and glorious Montana summer has come to an end, and I suddenly realize that my kids aren't little anymore, that I'm pushing 40, that my work is my work, and that there's nothing I can do to slow down the clock.

It feels like a chapter of my life has come to a close and a new one has begun, but that I'm only noticing it after the fact, though the signs have been clear enough.

Jen says, and I've come to agree with her, that 'conflict is the result of a lack of acceptance'. So I resolve to accept the changes I observe and to find encouragement from the pleasant surprises, both the new and unexpected, as well as the old and familiar but still-so-good.

I'll keep reminding myself that there are always positives in change and that acceptance and gratitude never stop being good medicine.
The Swan Range from Seeley Lake, Family Camp Sept. 2011.