Thursday, November 8, 2012

Are we tough enough?

First let me start by saying that this is one heck of a last lap.  If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.  Second, while watching the video I was struck by how rough the course is.  For those looking for an introspective post, this is going to be more of a rant.  Feel free to just watch the video and bail out. 

I don't consider myself to be particularly tough.  At 135lbs, tough is kind of . . . well, tough to pull of.  With that said, I do love adversity.  Rain, snow, mud, or in the case of last weekend locally, sleet and a combination of the previous three.  I deeply love them all, at least while racing.

I try to keep things in perspective, because I know I'm one of the weird ones.  I live for 'cross.  I tolerate road and MTB racing as a means to an end.  With that said, I think it's time for everyone to toughen up.  It's 'cross.  It's supposed to be messy.  There is supposed to be difficult terrain.  There is supposed to be RUNNING.  There should always be challenges that get you out of your comfort zone.  If you only show up when the course suits you or the weather is conventionally cheery, you're stuck in your comfort zone.  Most of us are a bunch of middle aged hacks.  If we were really decent we'd have grown a long beard and carpooled with Dan Timmerman to the motherland.  That said, it doesn't mean that we collectively need to turn our courses into gentle swoopy speedways or only race when it's sunny.

I'm not exactly Mr. New England, but I've raced there enough to know that:

1. One of their sweetest and oldest courses (NoHo) includes a launch over a set of train tracks that would send many a CNY'er into a hissy fit.

2. They'll hold a race at night on a ski hill with mind boggling mud and twisty sections of the course that would barely be visible with night vision goggles, let alone in the wet muddy dark of night.  The attendance of that race by the way will blow the mind of anyone from Buffalo to Albany.  It's sick and awesome all at once.

3. On the first lap they would drive their mother into the tape to move up a spot or two.  There is no starting easy and settling in.  Prepare to be bumped and it will be awesome. 

4. Their course layouts will include off cambers that might blow your mind.  Steep off cambers of frozen grass and hard mud are not uncommon.  No one complains, they just shut up and race.

It goes without saying that the further one travels from the Motherland, the more diluted a product will get.  I would argue that Albany is diluted from New Belgium, and Syracuse is diluted from Albany.

It's time to raise our game.  Oh, the course is bumpy?  They are literally racing in corn fields in parts of Belgium.  Oh, there's too much running?  Suck it up, 'cross includes running.  Sometimes lot's of it depending on the conditions.  Too sandy?  Your mom called, you used to love that shit when you were a kid.  You can wash it out of your crack when you get home.  Oh, someone bumped into you?  Bump 'em back on the next set of turns.  Let your legs, and occasionally a well positioned forearm do the talking.  It's cold out?  When you were a kid your mom probably kicked your sorry ass outside and told you not to come home until dinner.  If you were lucky you had a Members Only wind breaker.  If you were lucky!  Suck it up soft boy you can warm up on the drive home.

So in summation . . .

Racers:  Quit TELLING each other to HTFU and ACTUALLY do it.
Promoters:  Don't dilute your courses because some wuss who knows next to nothing about 'cross complained that your course was too bumpy, hilly, runny, muddy, turny, etc. 

Maybe a field trip to New Belgium is in order.  Ice Weasels perhaps?

6 comments: said...

Totally man. Remember riding at Camillus Park back in the day? Hell, that course had a creek crossing in it!

Skinny Phil said...

Exactly. Roots, sketchy stream, 90 degree downhill turn into a barrier with a run up! 'Cross baby!!

Colin R said...

Ha! Thanks for the kind words about Night Weasels. It's amazing what kind of sadism you can get away with as a promoter if the atmosphere is fun :)

Doug Mayer said...

Great post. I'd love to see what N'England racing is like, but I'm not competitive and I hate driving. Someday maybe.

velocb said...

Awesome post. Just got me totally stoked to race this weekend!

Doug you don't have to be competitive. I suck. Its just having that attitude Phil talked about. Wanting to suffer. And wanting to battle and take your friends into the tape and not minding if your friend chops you.

Make the drive out. You won't be disappointed

Bryan Blake said...

HERE, HERE!!!!! I'd give up a screw or two to be racing that stuff!!!