If You Can’t Beat ‘Em… Upgrade

Posted by on Nov 14, 2011 in Bike | 7 Comments

I’ve spent the entire cyclocross season trying to move my way through the B flight. I’ve had some success. But I’ve never come anywhere close to winning. Or even finishing on the podium. Which is fine. I set out to improve, and of course, to have a lot of fun. Mission accomplished. But this reality remains: I’m not going to win a B race. Not this year. Probably not ever. But you know the old saying… “If you can’t beat ’em, upgrade.”

And so I moved into the 35A flight.

What could possibly go wrong?

Now, why would I upgrade myself? It’s not as if my results have been overwhelmingly impressive. And if I’m not going to win a B race, I’m certainly not going to win an A race. Indeed, an upgrade like this only magnifies my own incompetence. But, so what? I wanted to race with my friends. I wanted to race in a smaller flight. I wanted to race with the best. And so, now I am. And anyway, the 35A flight should be a lot larger. UTCX is bottom heavy. Getting a B or C call-up? Time to upgrade.

Every week there should be new B and C flight winners because last week’s winners have upgraded. Yes, that means you. Racing up will improve fitness and skill. Racing up will help fill out the anemic A flights. Racing up will relieve the congestion in the beginner flights. ‘Cross is for tough people, right? Racing up makes people tough.

It’s local ‘cross… go ahead and uncomfortably challenge yourself.

I did. And it was really, really fun.

My only intent for the race at the Mount Ogden Golf Course was to to avoid embarrassing myself. Which was an entirely foolish pursuit. It’s impossible to be embarrassed at a UTCX event. And so I simply did what I’ve always done—pedaled as best I could. The result? Respectable. And the racing itself? Ridiculously fun. Snow. Mud. Wind. Muck and mire. Crashes, energy-sapping swamps, frozen extremities. In any other context, it would have been sheer misery. But cyclocross isn’t “any other context”. Cyclocross, and the people that indulge in its absurdities, demand misery and pain and gratuitous cold. Paradoxically, it’s the nasty, violent weather that makes ‘cross enjoyable. Makes ‘cross what it is. Riding the road in nasty weather is miserable. Riding a mountain bike in mud and muck is horrible. But racing ‘cross in terrible conditions is beautiful.

Really, it is.


  1. Bob
    November 14, 2011

    Amen brotha, I should mention that the Women categories, generally don’t have this problem.

    They are pretty even throughout and people upgrade appropriately.

  2. mark
    November 14, 2011

    Way to go, Adam. I’d rather get my ass kicked by the best than be a JV superstar. You rode well–I kept telling myself each lap that this would be the one where I caught you, and it never happened.

    • Grizzly Adam
      November 14, 2011

      I was always looking over my shoulder for you. You were never far back. You’d gain on me in the slick, techy stuff, and I’d get a little room on the straight-away. But you also doubled up Saturday. Which was really impressive. with fresh legs, you’d have probably gotten by me.

      • mark
        November 14, 2011

        You dance with the girl that brung ya. It was my choice to double up. That should take nothing from your result. You’ll only get better from here.

  3. Jeff Higham
    November 14, 2011

    I took the same “upgrade” approach with the CU Short Track series this year in Boulder, CO switching from the B to the A race mid-series. My goal changed from finishing top 5 in the B to not getting lapped in the A (by the likes of Bryan Alders, Mike West, and Brady Kappius) – a goal that I failed to reach more than once but the racing experience was awesome and well worth making the switch.

  4. Jonnie J
    November 14, 2011

    I’ve been on a two week hiatus. Your video has me re-energized. See you Saturday.

  5. Ty
    November 15, 2011

    awesome post man, amen to the upgrade!

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