Friday, December 17, 2010

Post Cyclocross Nationals

I have been struggling with how to start writing about the chaos that was 3 different races and 5 days of racing. In all honesty I wasn't really sure how I felt about it all. Coming back to work on Mon was tough for a lot of reasons.

How did the races go? people kept asking...It was good. That's all I could come up with, I sounded lame. Good, that's it? I didn't want to explain how I felt, I didn't have the energy, they didn't want to hear what I really had to say.

What I really have to say is that it was an amazing cyclocross nationals to be sure. Did it end up how I wanted, no it didn't. I wanted to be better, I wanted better results, but I think in reality I ended up where I deserved to end up and that's what's hard to say, that's the toughest part to deal with. I went as hard as I could, there wasn't a part of my races where I felt like I could give anything more. I rode around after my time trial for nearly 20 minutes, shivering cold, too dizzy to stop moving, trying to shake the nausea. I had gone as hard as I could, I ended up finishing 25th, I wanted better. I raced my ass off in my masters race, I did everything right, I can't remember a spot where I could have gone harder, I was seeing stars. I ended up finishing 6 places further back than last year. It's hard for me to balance how I raced and how I ended up, because in my mind I am better than than my results, but results don't lie. Those races are the hard cold reality of where I am. When the racing was over I felt alone with my results, I had to own them. This isn't meant to be negative, but it's not an easy truth to handle when you have unrealized expectations. You shake it off and as Heidi said "there's motivation in those memories". How do you explain this to someone when they ask how your race went...the answer is you don't. You say it went well and it was fun.

It was fun, it's not that I didn't have a blast, that I wouldn't do it again in a heartbeat. I don't think we do this just for fun though. It's something more, its much more important. I once told a good friend who understands... fun doesn't win races. It's true, we go out there and suffer, we pound the shit out of ourselves, we crash, we hurt, it's cold.

I've often read a piece written by Doug Ammons, an amazing kayaker who I looked up to when I was doing a lot of serious kayaking and still look up to. Someone once asked him why he paddled class 5. His response has a lot to do with some of the same reasons cyclocross is so meaningful to me.
We solved outrageous puzzles of movement and timing; played games of speed chess with the water, just at the edge of what we could handle. We wove ourselves completely into the river and lived for those moments of clarity, when you were committed to the line. To that thread of truth. And all those days of friendship and worry and concentration and smiles melted together into the best feeling...
Read Doug's entire piece "The Real Shit" it's amazing.

In cyclocross I have found what paddling class 5 gave me (without the life or death consequences) and that is clarity. When I race there is nothing else. It puts me in touch with part of myself that I don't find any other way and it's addicting. It's clarity, it's truth, and it's raw. But it's not always an easy truth, it's not beautiful and nice. I will keep seeking that truth no matter how hard. I need it.

I get choked up when I think about my friends who understand this, share this with me, yell their ass off at me, and are the first faces I see after a race, those who are there to support me. You are amazing people THANK YOU.

Go read posts from people that understand and can explain this even better than me!
Heidi Swift
Serena Bishop
Damian Schmitt
Don Leet


Gary Bonacker said...

Great view on Nationals Matt. Your spirit is what cycle racing is all about. You bring that spirit to all others as well. i saved my voice for the weekend of Nationals. Lost it for a few days, but was back soon. There is nothing like yelling for all of you. Cheers.

Serena said...

And yet, some how, fun does win races, because, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how you placed, it is friend you share it with and the memories that you hold dear that are truely important. Here's to more memories, a lifetime of friendship and another season of muddy fun!