Sunday, August 15, 2010

Signs of Fall

The time from the end of Cyclocross season to the first race of the new always seems like forever. The European season keeps you going for a while, with the world cup and Super Prestige studs battling through true cross weather in the early part of the year. The vicariousness ends in February however, with the Worlds taking place in a locale that more than likely you'll never visit.

A recent addition to the calendar, Barry-Roubaix has given a midwest 'crosser a early goal to shoot for. March is over soon and then it's just lonely cold, wet training rides to see a rider through. Sure, there's mountain biking, but I reached a level where I just can't be competitive without a lifestyle change.

So I wait, and I wait. Then, when the rides seem hotter than tolerable and the calendar says that I should start the hard stuff, intervals, longer 100% efforts, carrying your bike and such, unexpectedly, the first signs of fall appear. I'm riding along and I see it. The first wooly catepillar crossing the road. I don't usually have to dodge them as they are past my tire line, but unmistakable. The dark brown body, the black stripes, and the long bushy hair undulating their way across the road. Initially I just see one, but my heart knows what their presence mean. It isn't long before I have to maneuver around the creepy crawly. 

The next positive sign of an approaching 'cross season is one that requires a change in line of my bicycle. I'm still a little gun-shy with my mid summer crash due to loose-stone/chip & seal road maintenance that resulted in right side bruises, road rash tears, a shredded kit & broken helmet.The sign is something to be avoided, as it is hard, round, and when there are a lot of them, dangerous to try and ride through. This year, the sign hit me. When something falls out of the sky while your head is down and hits you in the helmet, it can be a little disconcerting. The knock required a slow down and a visual check to identify the "what the heck was that?' A blackened walnut was the culprit. Not nearly as thrilling as the owl I dodged in early spring, nor the low flying wild turkey that scared the bejubus out of me in June. Nonetheless, it was a solid indicator that my favorite season of the year is almost here, Cyclocross, or as the rest of you may know it, Fall. Hup, hup.

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