Words by Cooper Mittelhauser, photo by Jessica Bowman Cross is here, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not as well prepared as I might be.
After a long weekend of hot gravel my legs aren’t ready for repetitive sprinting. Weeks of road riding and the preceding months of dusty gravel centuries have left my body unprepared for sharp corners and wicked u-turns.
I hustled out to Socket after work, leaving me copiously sweaty when I hopped into the the first round of this season’s inaugural tuesday night cross practice. I finished the first bout feeling self-conscious, nervously tapping air out of high volume tires unsuited for the rigors of dirt crits and wondering why my cockpit was still creaking in spite of a recent headset upgrade, all while some tenacious kids raced their first-ever cross race.
The second round was spent chasing after my buddies, dwelling on the line I just took, and wondering if I can glue up some tubies in time for next week. Beer hand ups and lingering summer heat twisted my stomach as I sprinted across that familiar stretch of tarmac, and the seat pack I absentmindedly left on my bike spilled its contents as I hopped over barriers halfway into the heat.
But dang, if it doesn’t feel good to put my tires back in the grass. This week’s tuesday cross has left me fully torqued for a fresh season of cyclocross. I’m ready to remove my water bottle cages. I’m ready to lay in bed, hoping my set up is dialed for the ensuing day’s race. I’m ready to try to sprint up Hermann’s stairs, cleats scraping on cement. I’m ready to go full bore under generator powered lights at the Como Cyclocross Cup. I’m ready to put the hammer down, fight for the podium, and bask in beer and bacon hand ups if I slide out in a corner and lose my place.
People have been saying #crossiscoming.
I say #crossishere, and let’s act like it’s here forever.