A brutal, unforgiving, intemperate companion. It offers no sanctuary, and no comfort. Only cold, indifferent reality.
And yet, I love it. Indeed, I love it because of its stone-cold phlegmatic apathy.
20 minutes into the 2011 season I was already bleeding from my eyes. My legs, numb and lifeless, spun meaninglessly as I tried in vain to close—or hold—gaps around the bumpy, technical Clammy Cross course. My squalid technical abilities were laid bare among the singletrack and hairpin corners. My atrophic fitness, wholly inadequate, had me breathing heavily and laboriously as wheels and legs rode away. And away.
I enjoyed every painful, awkward minute. The acute burn and fervid pace are an integral part of the cyclocross experience. ‘Cross should hurt. A lot. Paradoxically, it is the pain itself that conjures the joy and the amusement of cross racing.
‘Cross is the reductio ad absurdum of bike racing. An (il)logical conclusion to an (il)logical argument. Silly. Stupid. Nonsensical. “If cyclocross racing is fun, then muddy, noxious pain is fun.”
Cyclocross is fun. Inexplicably so.
And now, despite being thoroughly and immediately dismissed on Saturday, I am today, unreasonably excited to race again.