Frankly, I think all us CX’ers are a little prone to gross exaggeration – “that was the hardest track ever”, “that run up was, like, half a lap”, “I’ve never seen so much mud in my life”, “that guy crashed out the entire field on the start” – but believe me when I say that World’s was the most mechanical destruction I’ve ever seen in a race. With only a crash and only a single flat Vittoria tubular, I feel like I came away fairly unscathed compared to the horror stories of equipment carnage I’ve heard from so many other athletes.
Overall, my own race scored a solid par for the course. 38th: Not spectacular, not terrible. Although I was certainly hoping for more, I probably I finished right around where I belonged on that day and on that course. If it sounds like I’m disappointed with my race, I’m really not. As an athlete, you simply can’t expect to have best performances every single day. Rather, I’m satisfied with my performance because I know that I lined up on the start line more prepared than I ever had been before. There are a million different things that can happen over the course of an hour race. Some of them you can control, some you can’t, but none of them can be changed once they happen. In other words, while it certainly wasn’t my perfect race, I can’t help but be pleased with it because of how much further I was ahead both mentally and physically than after my frustrating and disappointing race in Zolder just a season ago.
After World’s and a lot of bike maintenance -fixing tubulars, installing C-Bear ceramic bearings, new cables, chains, etc - fellow Canuck, Jeremy Martin, and I stuck around to tackle three of at the post-worlds races: Maldegem, Lille, and Hoogstraten. While delaying our off-season to extend the season after Worlds hasn’t been something that us foreigners have done a lot in the past, the reasons for doing so are pretty simple: we’re already there, we’ve just peaked for Worlds, and the only way to get better in Belgium is to spend time in, well, Belgium. There is nothing that can prepare you for 30 seconds of running per lap, sticking a rut, low cadence grinding in heavy mud, and racing a technically challenging course at 180bpm besides doing just that for multiple weekends in a row.
In so many ways, it’s the perfect learning environment. There is no external pressure to perform but, at the same time, I’m repeatedly thrown into situations that challenge my entire skill set. Sometimes that means blowing up, sometimes is means crashing, but just as often it allows me to redefine my technical, tactical, and physical limits. With that in mind, my last three races were a success; in each race I felt I was getting more comfortable on my Steeple-X, more confident, and able to race in a faster group than the race prior. This season’s trip may not have been terribly extensive, but I was able to both use and improve upon my time spent across the pond last season. While that’s a nice way to end the season, it always gives me a sense confidence and optimism looking forward to next year. The more I do it, the more I realize there’s no such thing as quick success in sport, so being able to add to my another season of incremental gains to my cumulative mental and physical knowledge means that I can’t help but be excited for what’s to come next year.