Have you ever watched one of those cable news political talk shows? Of course you have. And afterward, if it’s an episode where 3 or 4 people are all brought in as a “panel”, then you probably had a headache. Or, at the very least, had no idea what anyone was trying to say. Because they all talked at once while rolling their eyes and guffawing, and snorting at the idiocy of each other. Eventually the host had to say “thank you everybody, that’s all the time we have” and the show ended. And then an ad for one of the many erectile dysfunction drugs was blaring in your ears before you’ve even realized what. just. happened.
But that is not the “cross talk” I was referring to in the title of this post.
No, I am—unsurprisingly—referring to cyclocross. Again. Why? Well, something wonderful happened Wednesday night: ‘cross and I shared our first date. And it was really a lot of fun. Sort of like a real first date. I was nervous, excited, timid, and remarkably awkward. In fact, I was weirdly reminded of a first date I had several years ago. It went like this:
“Hey we are going to go to this free dance party thing, you should call Molly* and see if she wants to come.”
So I called her. And we went. But when we arrived, the event had been canceled. So we improvised, and ended up at an ice cream place. Things were going well enough. I was having a good time. My jokes were working. I think they were anyway. We were off to a good start. Excellent. One problem: I had no money. Not even a wallet. Nothing. (/facepalm)
Now, in hindsight it’s perfectly clear—and reasonable, I might add—what I should have done.
*Not her real name.
“I forgot my wallet, can you spot us tonight?”
“Yeah, no problem. Idiot.”
Instead, I did this:
“And for you Miss?”
“Oh, Molly, don’t order anything, I don’t have any money.”
“Um. Oh. Okay.”
Yeah. Awkward. Molly is not the girl I married. And I’m sure she is eternally and repeatedly grateful for that. Which begs the question…
Where was I? Oh. Cyclocross. And being remarkably awkward. Riding a road-like bike—or rather, riding one well—with skinny, knobby tires over dirt and bumps and through hairpin turns is harder than it sounds. A lot harder. Especially when trying to go fast. Or, at least faster than the guy next to you. My lack of ‘cross handling skills was exaggerated by the fantastically tight course at the weekly Mini-Cross venue. While the more seasoned riders simply pedaled and glided and gracefully floated through those turns, which were perfectly dampened by afternoon rain, I braked and skidded and squealed. And then I’d accelerate. Only to have to brake and skid and squeal again. Meanwhile those smoother than me, quickly rode away. And away.
Like Molly did.
“Oh, hey. Yeah, I’ve got plans with my roommates tonight. But maybe some other time?”
I did get better. At dating.
“I’m trying to blog here!”
No, I did. Eventually. And I did get better at pedaling through the turns during the race. A little. But by then I was breathing through my eyes, and so any improved form was negated by sheer exhaustion. But in the end, I was smiling. I was encouraged. And today, I’m even more so. Why? Because last night I attended the first session of the Cross Doctor’s clinic. And I learned stuff that you simply don’t learn running around alone in your backyard or at the nearby park, which is what I have been doing. And even though there were several people at the class, I think we all got a bit of one-on-one time with, if not the Doctor, then those helping him. Like Daren. Daren—as Mark has mentioned—has taken it upon himself to impart his cross wisdom on to others. He took time at both the race, and then at the clinic, to critique and improve my barrier, handling, and run-up skills. And he does it gladly, and easily. Which is just the kind of guy Daren is. Unlike Tanner**.
**Tanner is Daren’s teenaged son. And a very fast bike racer—like his dad. But—unlike his dad, he still has a few manners to learn. He keeps beating me, and many others of his elders at the races. I know, totally disrespectful!
A few observations after my first few days of legitimate ‘cross riding:
My wrists are sore. As are my ankles. And hip flexors. And hamstrings.
It’s true, what everyone says, ‘cross hurts.
But the other thing everyone says is also true—it’s addicting. In a weird painful way.
I did nearly fall on my face on the lead-in to a particularly high speed barrier/run up combination Wednesday. I caught myself. Barely. Had I not done so, the face plant and subsequent skid across the gravel and into the large felled tree that was acting as the barrier would have been a spectacular disaster.
Kinda like those cross-talking pundits on TV.
Or my date with Molly.
And Tanner, I’m just messin’ with you.