I spent the weekend on the McKenzie River biking in the remote mountains in the Willamette National Forest. My legs are hardened with lactic acid, bruised from miles of single track and bloody from the unforgiving earth. I am on my way to the Portland International Raceway to race the Rapha Portland Trophy Cup. It’s my first race back since getting injured. My legs are dead but my spirits are high.
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Cyclocross is kinda like going back to school after being on a vacation break. Everyone is grouped up and eyeing the new kids that roll up. One of the major differences though is how warm and inviting the cyclocross community is. I’ve always been an outsider and I imagine that will never change. But I’ve met a lot of cool people through cycling and it’s one of things that brings me back every week.
The B’s are called up and I am sitting in the second row. The race hasn’t even started yet and I am already being pushed around. At this moment I realize what my strategy will be. Ride a manageable pace, make no mistakes and try to see how many people I can pick off.
A whistle is blown and we’re off. I fade to the back of the pack. My breathing is good and I find my rhythm. The race strings out and I can see the lead pack far off in the distance. I am fighting for last place but I am ok with it. I am smiling and it shows in my riding. I am making solid line choices, my hands off the brakes, the barrier mounts and dismounts become fluid. I work my way into 17th place. I am smiling and honestly thats all that really matters.
It’s the last lap and I find myself on the the wheel of a 13 year old. He’s killing it. A rider off the back makes his way up and I witness him bully the younger rider. I wish I had the strength to chase him down. What a fucking asshole.
I cross the finish line with a smile on my face and It’s the first time I’ve consciously enjoyed a cyclocross race.
Check out the rest of the race write ups here : Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 5