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Monday, December 04, 2006

strange how things change and remain the same, in one breath

I was sent this as something i'd scribbled way back when. I find myself laughing ... at myself.

no idea why i would have written it ... but do believe i know who "vlad" was.
Baldwin, can you guess?

- - -

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of CycloCross
Keyboard meandering 11-26-01
By Michael Hernandez

This being my first of (injuries allowing) many PsychoCross seasons, I’d like to share a few thoughts. Now ... you might want to stop reading right here, cause it’s gonna get silly faster than a Surf City start. Well, ya’ll been warned.

When riding my cross bike, I think a big fat scarlet ‘Roadie’ tattoo must welt out from my forehead … just below the crooked helmet and right above the sweat-smeared shades. Hell, I can’t even call it ‘my bike,’ cause it’s a borrowed steed from Dave Easty, of Reno’s Bicycle Warehouse fame. Another cat in town has a Dave hand-me-down (both Landsharks), and we refer to ourselves as the Bitches of Eastwood. Well, that’s another story. In any case, before this fall I thought Crossing was something you did with your girlfriend's clothes … but, alas, I’ve become hooked on the crazy-ass sport.

Now, I don’t want to say that I feel totally intimidated by these Crossers, it’s just that they all seem so damn big. Don’t misunderstand, nobody is going to be kicking sand in my face at the beach, but I am a road-rider after all, and a climber to boot. I’m not much more than a tire-width under 6 feet and weigh in at a solid buck-fitty (with a couple of bottles stuffed in the jersey). But these Crossers – Crikey, the apes look like they chew on protein bars 24-7. Ha! Reminds me of a story …

Earlier this year, I took part in a crit of no specific importance. It was a local event, small but competitive; well designed course and great weather. New to the area, I had no idea whom I should be marking (please note the proper usage of ‘whom,’ my professors would be so proud), so I just decided to attack myself into one of those zen-like trances of anaerobic-hell and see what happened. After a couple of laps of some serious off-the-front-itis, I was caught by another rider.

Allow a brief description of this rider, eh?

Ever hear of that legendary figure ‘Vlad the Impaler?’ You know, the big Translyvanian wolf who mowed through warrior and peasant alike, cutting a bloody swathe with one hand, and ruling the land Iron-Fist style with the other. Well, if there were going to be a reincarnation of the Impaler, I imagine it would be something like the dude who joined me at the front of the race that day. While I would like to refer to him as ‘Vlad,’ perhaps ‘Boris the Eastern-Bloc Nightmare’ might be more appropriate. He was big and bad and smelled of spoiled meat. He was so powerful that his bike actually groaned when he mounted it. He was so fast that motor-pacing was the order of the day for little ‘ole me. Desperately latched onto his wheel, I was nothing but caboose to his SuperLiner. I was mini-me to his Dr. Evil. I was Umpa-loompa to his Veruka Salt. It was laughable. And that’s how I feel at the start of one of these Cross races. A sprite dancing around a bunch of ogres.

... egads what fun.

To continue, when racing Cross I’d like to think I cut a bit of a dashing figure …smooth roadie pedal-action, sleek form dancing on the pedals, Ligget-like commentary echoing through the course. Well, that’s what I’d like … the reality, however, is that I resemble a blind, retarded daddy-long-legs, mangling my bike and riding like an absolute menace. In my short career as a Crosser, I’ve somehow managed to crash in almost every imaginable circumstance. I’ve washed out (both front and rear tires), endo-ed, turtled, taco-ed, tripped, hamburgered, hooked, splashed, stumbled, splatted, and even defied a law of gravity, or two. If there could be a defining moment of my crossing, trust me, it would be covered in both blood and embarrassment.

Then why continue with this madness?

Perhaps I am only mad when the wind blows north-north-west, eh? The benefits of this insane sport almost out-weigh the costs of skin, bone, and pride. The Cross racing and training have definitely added depths to my strength-reserves, and perhaps one day I might even develop some bike-handling skills! The adrenaline rush of the race is just the off-season fix desired, and 60 minutes of mud, snow, and barrier work wonders for the complexion (what?). But, hands-down, the most enjoyable aspect of Cross (one that you rarely get the feel of in Road-action) has to be the atmosphere at the races.

The courses, especially those Surf City and Central Coast Series races, are incredibly well designed and PACKED with fans. That’s right, FANS! Oh, it is so damn cool hearing somebody yell “Cookie!” after you’ve powered up a steep pitch, or when you hear the quick intake of breathe after you’ve narrowly escaped a big digger, acrobat-style. And did I mention the announcers? The voices of K-Dog going Coastal and the Surf-side Gogol ring loud and clear all over their respective courses … nothing finer than hearing your name echo across the valley of pain. Gotta be the hippest seen around.

So, here’s some applause and thanks going out to all those who make it happen. From Dale B and Jim C in Reno, to the Elgarts in Sacto, to the Bay area beach-bums … it has been an absolute delight. Hope to see you again - I’ll be the one asking where the med-kit is stashed.

later, m


velogirl said...


Anonymous said...

check out your "crazy talk" post for a little letter hernando. didnt have your email!

Chris said...


Olaf Vanderhoot said...

that Baldwin ... he's so hot right now.

Chris said...

Rapinski is the biggest Belarussian I've ever seen...tho big you don't ever think of mocking his lithp...ever!

PAB said...

that is amazing. you're right, nothing has changed: surf city and CCCX are still the best cross races, and you are still crashing and wearing your girlfriend's (sorry, fiance's) clothes.

X Bunny said...

i rode the length of the beach once in yesterday's cross race

about 1/2 way through i realized i was no faster (and maybe slower) than all the other gals who had the smarts to run it

but the 'fans' were hooting and hollering for what else could i do?!

i stayed on my bike

Olaf Vanderhoot said...


PAB said...

oh yeah, you still scribble pretty good, too...

Anonymous said...

You said that you were not sure why you wrote it.

I think the dead give-away is this line:
"has to be the atmosphere at the races"

Thanks for a good post on a boring day. It's the first one I have been remotely interested in for some time.

I soooo not interested in what the Pros do anymore.

Anonymous said...

I knew you had a fancy for wearing your significant others clothes.