The Surprise Season

8:55 AM

The 2015 cyclocross season brought many surprises.  I’ve only been off a few weeks and I’m still excited about all the fun and crazy I’ve had since September.
First surprise - I decided to compete in the advanced category on my single speed for the Wednesday night practice races.  I won’t lie, at first this was my way of staying away from the race with most of the women so I wouldn’t know how out of shape I was.  Then I realized how much I enjoyed the smaller field that was made up of skilled riders.  An unintended side-effect?  The 60 minute race kicked me into shape.
Winning races?  Me?  I have been a mid-pack category 3 for the past five years with a total of zero wins and a couple of podiums at the less-attended races.  Going into this season I fully expected this to continue.  But then I won the 3s at Metal CX.  Odd.  Stranger still was the win at Baker Orchard.  Huh?  A couple of wins out of town in a (very small) single speed category at Trek kept me thinking I was just a place-holder until the real 3s started to show up.  After a great weekend at Green Acres I accepted the reality: I would have to upgrade.
Winning was both fun and awkward.  I always felt like I had to apologize for my finish.  Then I would hear this crap come out of my mouth, which was intended to be self-deprecating, but ultimately made me look and feel like an ass.  And awkward one at that.  
Upgrading was the most unexpected pleasure of this season.  Though I didn’t realize it at first, this year in cross I felt strong, capable, relaxed on the bike, and even slightly competitive.  There is no better feeling that ripping around a corner on a cross bike, standing up out of the saddle, and throwing your body into the cranks.  
The rest of the season was just gravy.  I managed to not come in last in my races as a category 2 (woo-hoo!) and felt like I belonged there.  Ending the season in Iowa City at Jingle Cross was a muddy, mucky, heavy-bike mess.  I was solidly mid-pack, had a few places on the course where (dammit!) I knew I could do better, and was happy to escape without ripping off my rear derailleur.  What more could you ask for?

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