My teammates and I (and much of our competition) had no delusions of turning professional or doing much more with the sport than working as hard as we could and having as much fun as possible while we could. The last college game I played was a painful end to an important part of my life. I feared that I'd never find something that would challenge me as much mentally and physically as hockey could.
I tried a few men's ice hockey leagues, but that sucked. No one really tried and other than wearing the same uniforms I never felt as though I was part of a team. The disparity between a team's best and worst players was really wide. The little bit of flow that I had come to expect from the game was non existent.
I happened upon cycling, through a hockey friend who's roommate was a budding triathlete. In cycling I've found much of what has been missing since my college hockey ended 15 years ago. The camaraderie, the physical exertion, the speed, the different venues, the road trips, the endless pursuit of new gear and yes, even the physical contact.
Here's my pal Bob. Bob is a master's racer (35+, maybe older, I never asked) and he's no threat to win a master's race any time soon (that's no slight, neither am I).
Bob's a Ham and Egger.
Bob loves the sport and the challenge it presents him and his equipment.
Somehow he got caught up on a set of barriers at today's race and took a rear wheel directly to the end of his nose. Sounds funny if you weren't looking at the photo. The wheel hit him so hard on the end of the nose that it ripped a 2cm long gash up on the bridge of his nose. There was copious amounts of blood. He's an eye doctor.. or optometrist... or something like that, and he was pretty sure that he had fractured the bone just below his right eye next to his schnazoots.
Notice he's not on the ground in the photo. He finished his race. Where he placed isn't important.
When I tell people I race cyclocross they kind of look at me funny. Explaining that it is a kind of bike racing makes it easier for them to understand the medium, but it does nothing to explain the sport. Yeah, the legs are shaved and the uniforms are spandex, but don't make the mistake of thinking that it is anything like road cycling.
From now on, I'll send them a link to this picture of Bob.
That my friends, is cyclocross
This photo and people like Bob are why I love this sport.
Canton race report coming soon.