On Sunday, I got to learn firsthand why so many cyclocross riders are amiably insane. The conditions on the morning of Staten CX were miserable - grey, cold, and wet. The sky was spitting and it was only a matter of time before it turned into a steady drizzle that turned Wolfe's Pond Park to muck, making a mess of the tight 180-degree turns, the mud pits, and the already treacherously slick and tight "Circle of Death."
I jury-rigged a cyclocross bike that I hoped would withstand the course: put front and rear brakes on my everyday bike, put a freewheel on it, geared at 42x18, and squeezed some 'cross tires into the frame. The clearances were tight - I hoped that caked mud wouldn't slow me down too much.
When the whistle blew, forty riders surged forward, each hoping to get toward the front and avoid being subjected to other riders' mistakes. The rough, sandy sound of wet, muddy brakes hitting rim came too often as riders slowed into turns - I realized I'd have to get clear if I wanted to ride my own race. So I powered along the flats and took kamikazi lines through tight turns, picking off the riders in front of me one by one. The course was great - hairpins, a set of two barricades, nice twisty bits mixes with some fast flats, a beach run, and a long section through the woods that tested bike handling skills. Used to riding this very bike over curbs and through the awful cobblestones of Manhattan's Meatpacking District I was able to plow through the technical sections, passing riders before the steep, root-ridden runup.
For fortyfive minutes I had some of the most fun I've ever had on a bike, and rolled into the finish line in 4th place, coughing, wet, muddy, and fatigued. Not only that, but though I was cold and wet watching the 2/3/4 race and the Women's Open, there was hot chocolate, veggie burgers, and Belgian waffles to fill my stomach and warm my core while I stayed shivering in the rain.
This could become fairly addictive. I'm an idiot for waiting till the end of the season.