Well, if I said that in college, it was probably a load of crap and I was just trying to ditch a needy goth chick and trying to avoid being killed in my sleep. More recently it's been in reference to CX courses.
Twice this year I've gotten to courses, done my warm up laps and started the race thinking that the course was too hilly, too technical, too blah blah blah. After the first couple of laps though, I realized that it was me, not the course. The Dave Panella Memorial in Greene was a perfect example of it being me. I got to the race, rode the course, listened to a few people gripe about all of the turns and spirals and started to go to a dark place. I'd also been sick all week, so I was probably already half way to dark.
Anyway, the race starts, I slot in conservatively because I can't breath through my left nostril and I have no idea how my lungs are going to respond to the effort. The first couple of laps I'm a hot mess, I'm blowing lines and I almost crash. Then all of a sudden, the course gets tacky, I can breath and the lines start to come together. I also get extremely pissed that I'm riding like a 3 year old girl who's been mainlining pixie sticks all day (read spaz). I turn around to Bryan Blake and shout "Let's catch the final gentleman in front of us who on occasion make sweet love to their mothers." Or something to that effect. From that point on, the course is fine, I'm fine, and I more or less ride my ride.
My point to all of this rambling is to say this: The courses are neutral. Variety is good and if every course was like my home course, I'd be bored. I tell this story sometimes, so maybe some of you have already heard it, but here goes: The Jungle is Neutral. There's a book by that title. The bottom line is that the jungle isn't out to get you and neither is the 'Cross course. The jungle is what you make of it. Granted there are bad things around you, but snakes can bite you or snakes can be dinner. Rain can get you wet, but you have something to drink. That's the short version, but the bottom line is that if you ride the course thinking that it's out to get you, it probably will. If you ride the course knowing that it's neutral, you can turn the snakes into dinner. It took me a few laps to realize it, but the course was great. It was me.
Last but certainly not least, here's one last piece of advice to keep the course neutral. If the course builder uses flags instead of tape, you can follow Adam Myerson's rule on flags: "Flags are only a guideline." If they wanted you to color inside the lines, they'd have made the lines out of course tape. I'm assuming I wasn't alone in that sentiment given the number of flags that were run over. King Karl built us quite a castle out of flags this weekend. I did my best to stay within the lines. Seriously.