So I think Mother Nature caught the fever…
We’ve been working hard to spread it and it’s slowly becoming bigger... We now have hats, socks, t-shirts, cycling kits and a bike that won a world cup. But Mother Nature? She’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t expect SHE would join the movement so quickly. It's more contagious than I thought...
Here’s the thing though; I don’t think she really gets it. I know having the fever is kind of hot right now, but it’s not just about heating things up. Okay mama Nature?
The CX Fever is also about sharing the passion/excitement for ‘cross and enjoying the peculiar characteristic of cyclocross. Okay, I agree that one of those unique characteristics about cross is being able to adapt and ride well in varied and rapidly changing weather conditions. I also know that extreme heat and humidity is ONE option of weather conditions; but you know, there are also other options you can choose from…that’s the thing about the phrase “varied conditions”. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing.
I’m teasing you Mother Nature – you know I’m not the type to complain too much about these kind of things and I’m actually pretty flattered that you caught the fever... But this weekend was HOT. However, although I really struggled with the heat during the race yesterday, I’m actually happy I had the opportunity to race in such difficult conditions.. I had a bad experience with heat last year, and I’ve been a bit scared of racing in extreme temperatures since.
*** (prepare for a radical change of subject)
On our team, we are all pretty close and the good thing about that is that you always feel like you can be honest and tell the others how you feel without being judged. We do like to make fun of each other, but there are never any real judgments. To use the concept of Coach K (Basketball coach of the Duke University), we also have a “family” type of culture, where everyone actually cares about one another and is genuinely happy and proud for someone else’s accomplishments - which eliminates any type of jealousy between us. I think that’s pretty special in an environment where we are actually competing against each other.
The reason I’m talking about that, is that this positive culture and support from the team allowed me to express my feelings about the heat, and to seek help. Together, we came up with various cooling techniques and strategies that we could use prior and during the race. Those strategies included:
- Good hydration the week before;
- Ice buckets to dunk hand and feet;
- Pantie hose full of ice;
- Wrist bands with ice cubes;
- Icy water on the bike;
- Shorter warm up, Umbrella boys, etc.
As basic as it sounds, this made me feel awesome. I was confident in those techniques, it gave me something to focus on and I suddenly wasn’t scared of the heat anymore. I was aware it was hot, but I was okay with it because we had all these McGyver techniques that I could use to help me out.
So I started the race super confident and fired up. I had a good start and after two laps, I was in the top ten and feeling good. But at some point, I suddenly started feeling super dizzy and a bit nauseous. It just ht=it be out of the blue. I knew that feeling and I knew that I shouldn’t push it too much. It was frustrating because I wanted to keep pushing and battling, but I knew that feeling too well and wasn’t willing to get too deep into it. I spent the rest of the race managing that dizziness and focusing on what didn’t require my body to create too much heat; the technical sections and cornering. A few times I tried to push it, but my body quickly reminded me I had to back off.
I lost positions during the whole 2nd half of the race and finished in 20th place, not feeling very good. I was cooked. It was a bit frustrating to know that I wasn’t pushing as hard as I wanted to, but that was the best my body could do in that heat and I have to respect that. It’s easy to judge ourselves in those situations, but honestly, I was quite proud of myself after that race because I think I managed it pretty well and it was a huge step in the right direction to make me more confident in the heat.
In the end, it hasn’t been the beginning of season that I wanted. In my opinion, I’ve had two pretty mediocre performances at the first 2 World Cups, but I’m honestly not too worried about it. It’s a long season and I’m confident I can be where I want to be.
Despite these results, I’ve had a really good time racing, preparing for the races, chit-chatting with the cross communtiy and hanging out with the team. It’s pretty special to have these 2 World Cups in North America and I’m grateful I got to participate in those. The support from the fans have been amazing and as usual, I feel like I am the luckiest to be on a team, working with my favorite people.
The next race is KMC Cross Fest, which will be the first event of the US CUP series. Should be fun.
Here's a very cool video that Bill at CXHairs made for the team: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZjcjl2lwlu/?taken-by=maghroch