“Tell me lies lies lies, sweet lil lies, when I cannot face the truth.” Spearhead
I love cross. Its boss. But it often comes when I have little fitness. This year the last cross races are going down just as I start up again. In fact, I had exactly 1 day of training when I lined up for my only (most likely) cross race of the year. Here is how you don’t die:
First, there are two types of cross racers: surly new englanders and everyone else. New englanders see ‘cross as the main season. They come to race hard and take it very seriously. Everyone else shows up drunk in awesome hats. Get your head into the silly hat place. I see ‘cross like bowling. I suck at it and that’s what makes it fun.
In CX the start is key. To win you want to start at the front, hammer all out and stay out in front. The race stacks up and slows at the first turn. If you’re trying to survive this is a great time to practice giving up. Start at the back. This way the race is lost within the first 30 seconds and that last dash of hope can be gone and you can get down to the business of having fun and getting a good workout and stop all this racing business.
At the stack up of the first turn look around. This is your real race. The really fat guy, the hairy leg guy with a mt bike, and the guy who takes himself way too seriously (shaved down, skin suited, and has a tricked out bike and pit bike and yet still sucks – as noted by the fact that he is right next to you). This is your race now! Beat these guys! Or don’t! Whatever! Yay!
You don’t want to blow up so don’t go too hard on the first lap. Notice where you can move up or draft and go easy. Save energy at every second. Keep in mind, being brave or skilled doesn’t take fitness so you can do both of those things still. This should be enough to battle the guys around you.
The good news about ‘cross is people fade badly. As an ironman, I always have an hour of fitness if I keep it reasonable. So be patient and wait for others to slow down and slow down with them. No need to a hero. If you drink, get a beer feed. Or muffin feed. Try to crash once so people know you are trying a little.
Then on the last lap beat at least either the poser, fat guy or mt biker but not all 3. That would be over achieving. Also make sure to get out of the way of the top guys when they lap you. Be thankful, if they didn’t lap you you would have to do another lap. It’s a mercy killing. I bet when I lap age groupers at ironman they wished it ended their pain.
At the finish, laugh WITH the bike guy and fat guy and AT poser guy and then pack up and head home and tell yourself next year you really are gonna race ‘cross, for real.
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