Training for ‘Cross
I recently upgraded my phone, tablet, laptop, and TV to their most modern respective operating systems. These devices are now are so interconnected that they know what I want long before I do. In fact, I might not want it all, but no one can tell because I’m already doing what they told me I want to do. Presumably while driving.
I have become quite adept at texting while riding my bike. My phone buzzes, I reach into my pocket, examine the message, and determine whether I should answer that particular buzz immediately or wait until I’m at a stop or at home. I don’t navigate any kind of logic tree to make this determination; I simply respond to my inner monkey and tap away my inane response. I should not have this skill, texting while riding. By all rights I shouldn’t even have my phone with me. I shouldn’t need to be reachable when I’m on my bike. That’s part of the point of being on my bike.
There is something about being out in the wilderness that flips a primal reset switch in my soul. Mountain biking and backcountry skiing often take us away from phone networks and traffic the way little else can. The problem with mountain biking is a lack of the hypnotic rhythm that riding on the road offers, which is part of the enormous appeal of riding a bicycle; the rhythm of the legs pedalling along has a trance-like quality to it and the spell is broken whenever the bike hits a root or a rock or a rut. This, for me, is the appeal of a good gravel ride or even a good Cyclocross ride: you’re still on a road bike with most of its hypnotic trappings, but you still get to descend into the wilderness and experience the great escape from technology. Along with just enough technical riding to make a tantalizing cocktail of Awesomeness.
Fall is here, which means the road season is all but behind us; ahead of us lie chilly, wet rides in our Flandrian Best. And Cyclocross. I have an extensive background riding rigid mountain bikes in the 90’s, which makes me almost automatically good at Cyclocross. Except Cyclocross also includes running and remounting. My basic trouble with training for ‘Cross is that I never do my drills for things like remounting. My remount looks like a wounded duck trying to ride a pogo stick. I could master it, of that I’m certain, but once I’m riding my bike I find it nearly impossible to climb off just for the privilege of climbing back on.
In the immortal words of @G’rilla: I don’t cross-train. I train for ‘cross.