The Night Before

 First order of business: removing reflectors and spoke protectors

First order of business: removing reflectors and spoke protectors

There are so many things to go wrong. I've been spending all my time putting out fires and haven't had any time to prepare and suddenly the first race is tomorrow. This is fine. I can fix this.

I didn't have a cross bike, now I do. It was a few model years old, and sitting forlornly in a back corner of the shop staring at me. Calling to me. The guy at the store let me put it on a trainer so I could dial in stem length and saddle position, and then took the position I set and moved it up and back a lot. Apparently I'm still awfully low for a cross position, but I feel like I'm sitting up straight. Riding a very small track bike all the time will do that to you I guess, but it's a lot of change. I rode home from the bike shop and took a route with a lot of road construction to get a feel for the bike. It's odd to ride. The steering feels slow, a far cry from the shoulder-drop-and-hang-on I'm used to. The tires are wide and absorb road chatter, which is new for me. And I can coast! How strange! I can put my weight anywhere I want, and suddenly riding is a sublime experience. The handling issues that were bothering me disappeared in a cloud of euphoria as I played with my weight transfer. Front wheel up, rear wheel light, and I'm flying over cuts in the pavement that'll detonate the dampers in a mid-size SUV. This is gonna be good.

After I get home I realize that I'm missing something. I haven't practiced dismounts and re-mounts at all, I don't know what pressures my tires should run at, I've never ridden in mud on tires that aren't tiny rocks, and it's been raining all week. "Never mind," I tell myself, "I'll burn that bridge when I get to it."

And so it's the night before the second race of the Chicago Cross Cup, and I have no idea what I'm doing. I have my tools and clothes packed in my backpack so I can grab-n-go bright and early tomorrow, but I don't have a clue what's waiting for me at the park tomorrow. I'm seeded in the last position on the grid, and my goal is to not finish there.

Uncertainty is a bitch, let's go racing.