It’s hard to believe that this weekend will be the eighth of cyclocross racing in Colorado already. The sport has grown so much in the past few years and there are high-quality events even this early in the season. Also amazing is the turnout of juniors. There are fifty-six riders on Boulder Junior Cycling alone. Instead of having just three or four fast riders in my age group, there are ten to fifteen riders duking it out for half an hour. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
On October 8th, I decided to race Primalpalooza. To be honest, I had rather low hopes because in the past I hadn’t really enjoyed the venue—too many bumps. However, despite racing the second race of the day, Senior Men 4, the course had been substantially smoothed out. I was impressed. When the official announced that there would be a $50 cash prime after the first half lap, I mentally sighed. I have a relatively fast start in juniors, but not against cash-hungry grown men twice my size. It was no surprise that my start wasn’t the best. I was 8th or 10th wheel until I had the opportunity to pass. It was pretty easy passing, as most riders were gassed form their dirt track sprint. I worked my way up to 2nd, on the wheel of my teammate Chris Key, who won the prime. As I passed him, he said, “Go! I’m getting a flat so you better win!” so I knew what I had to do. I passed my parents on side of the course after lap and a half. “What place?” I gasped. “I think you’re leading,” they replied, and the announcer confirmed it. The drama of the race was over, and I soloed to the win.
Just hours later were the junior races. I didn’t race, but I pre-rode with the under-15 BJC kids. I tried to be as meticulous as possible in explaining to them how to go as fast as possible. I must have done a good job because of all people, my eleven year old brother told me, “Eric, I think you’re going to be a really good coach.” Probably a pretty serious compliment for him. Ha.
The minute I got home from Primalpalooza I immediately started to think about ‘cross camp. It was on my mind all week until Friday finally came. On Saturday morning I had a group of eight to ten year old riders assigned to me. At first none of them really listened to me, probably having to do with the fact that most of them were the same size as me. When I finally let them practice bunnyhopping and play Bump and Thump, I was their new hero. Coaching was a good experience because it made me much more conscious of what I do and what I should be doing every day when I’m riding. The mark of a good coach is being able to explain something without having to do it and figure out what it is you’re doing. And I didn’t make anyone cry, despite being firm with the little rippers. (Maxx Chance). Actually coaching kids allowed me to learn as well as teach.
Cyclocross in Colorado is heating up with the premier series in the States, the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, coming to Fort Collins tomorrow. I believe that ‘cross is here to stay in a big way, namely that we have the potential to be the next Belgium. The rainclouds are building over Fort Collins; the first drops are falling. The pros are finishing their pre-rides and heading to the numbers presentation. Outside, soft moondust is transforming into a slick, pasty slop. It’s about to get uglier than a Wal-Mart at 6am on Black Friday.