This past July I was floating on the pond with my wife, a.k.a. The Lovely Deb, and confided in her about a low spot I was going through this week. Not a low spot that a substance would help with. And not a depression. I was a quart low, had pondered it for some time, and recognized its roots.
Summer is a period of waiting for me, and one I endure. I live for cyclocross – the five months of racing that begin in September. The sport is always on my mind, and the next season starts the day after the current one ends. The details are in place and I spend thirty one days of July watching the calendar until mid-August when plans go into effect.
I started going to ‘cross races in 1972 while in England. I attended the Worlds at Crystal Palace. I could look at magazines without reading the captions and pick out Atkins, Mernickle, Davies, Dodd, Stone, and many Brits. I could do the same with the De Vlaeminck brothers and maybe Zweifel, Liboton, and Thaler. The scene excited me, and that needle never left my arm.
My Connecticut-based club raced cyclocross in the the 1970s but few took it seriously. The team I have sponsored since 1982 began racing ‘cross for fun and extra training. By the mid 1990′s, I was making them frames on a regular basis. In 1996 I gave up on road racing – where my roots were – and have devoted my energy to cyclocross ever since.
The autumn months comprise the most beautiful time of the year. The beauty comes not only from what nature offers, but from what cyclocross gives me. Forget the results, though we do get them in spades. Forget the places we get to see; we spend maybe one weekend at home all season. Cyclocross produces energy, and it comes through the good souls we share this time with. My teammates come early and leave late. The cast may change every few years, but the cast members are forever in my heart. Sooner or later each answers a personal call and returns to responsibilities or places away from our base in Massachusetts. Sometimes it’s just an age thing, and a rider retires. But the memories are everlasting. You can always tap memories for energy.
I think of the ’cross season as my time, one I get to share with close pals. In less than a week, Dan, BrittLee, Libby, and Sam will join TLD, Buddy, and me for another dance. Pals become dance partners, and the muddy dance floor is where the energy comes from.