|The idea of cyclocross appeals to me, but the reality is far from a perfect fit.|
I love cyclocross, but not unconditionally. My collarbone fracture was just one of the factors that kept me out of the action this year. I was on the bike again by Oct. 8, in time for the Grafton race and everything thereafter. So, why didn’t I come back? What made me feel like a stranger to the cyclocross world this fall? Here are the other factors:
- The weather. I want warm and dry conditions. This season had several cold, wet races. For some people, that’s “real” cyclocross. I understand why they like it, but it’s not for me.
- Series points. In my category, there weren’t any. This was a departure from previous seasons, a “scorched earth” policy by the WCA to weed out sandbaggers by removing what it saw as an incentive for them to remain in Category 4. The better solution would have been to compel upgrades in the few cases where it was needed. With no series points on the line, the only race that really mattered was the state championship.
- Media changes. As I fan of professional cyclocross, I depend on streaming video from a handful of websites to watch races from across Europe and the United States. This season the European feeds have suffered from more than the usual number of technical problems, and coverage of the top American races is now available only by subscription. I chose not to pay for races that I used to watch for free … races that aren’t even part of a series anymore, now that the USGP is dead. Even “Behind the Barriers” has lost much of its charm.
So, I still have never done a race later than Nov. 5 and I should stop lying to myself that next season will be different. I expect to return to cyclocross racing next year, and to mountain bike racing, but I think my main focus will be on the road. I am not prepared to share all my plans—the ABR, WCA and Wisport dates haven’t even been published—but already there are five time trials on my 2014 calendar. Add a couple of road races and it should be an interesting year, one in which I will again be a jack of all trades but a master of none.