by Paul Warloski
All season I’ve been racing above my weight class in the 30 or 35 plus events.
I chose that mostly to race with (and against) my teammates, but also to improve my crossresults.com and USA Cycling score. Supposedly the system rewarded racing in more challenging fields.
That didn’t work out so well. After tough races in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Jingle Cross, my score showed that I’m sucking more now than in the middle of the season.
Nice. Just in time for New Year’s Resolution, and Nationals.
I will admit it: I’ve lost focus on the WFQ (Warloski Fun Quotient). I’ve been wanting, as we all do, for the giant efforts of training to start paying off in results.
That hasn’t been happening.
I’m blaming it on fatigue. I’ve been racing a lot, school has been challenging, and I’ve putting in a lot of work into promoting our Wisconsin series and the mwi cross team races.
It started at the Halloween race at Washington Park. Some kind of stomach bug hit me, and I felt awful, pulling out of the 1, 2 race after two laps. I didn’t travel to Sheboygan the next day so I could rest.
A group of us traveled to Cincinnati Thursday night for the Cincy3 events. We arrived very late to our gracious host’s condo. The course Friday was probably the most physically demanding I’ve ever done. It was all steep uphills and downhills and mud. In a tough field, I managed to fight for 12th until untimely crashes helped me finish 18 of 30-some.
I didn’t feel great Saturday but did alright, and on Sunday, I did the 2 / 3 race to ride with my teammates. Crashes again put me at the back.
I got home Sunday night at midnight and got to sleep by 1, up at 5 to ride to school. So by the time I recovered, I was driving to Louisville! The racing in Louisville, though, was unbelievably awesome. The course was epic, and the scene electric.
I started both days of the 35 plus in the sixth row. I rode strongly both days, but crashed a lot again. My left leg has a bunch of cuts, gouges, bruises, and scrapes.
On Sunday, I rode to Bandman Park from the Ramada. On the way, I saw a bunch of the cat 2/ 3 racers warming up on the road. They were all focused and intense.
I realized at the moment I had become way too intense. I am a 48-year-old dude with a “leg with character scars” who is not going to be a pro any time soon!
I tried to race Sunday with a smile. I found myself able to chase down a lot of people and pass them. Then I would crash. Chase, and crash a second time. Both crashes were dumb driver errors, and while I felt a little better that even seasoned pros like Tim and Ryan crashed on the course, I’m still sick of crashing.
At the Wisconsin state championship, I wanted do well, maybe even end up on the 45 plus podium. I worked all week on simply remembering that it was just another chance to ride my ’cross bike! I practiced breathing a lot, thinking that by relaxing I could be smoother.
The first half lap went pretty well at states. Then I just started going backwards. There was no power in the power room, and Commander Scotty from Star Trek was nowhere to be seen. And to make matters worse, as I was sucking badly, none of my teammates offered me a beer handup! A tragic travesty, I tell you.
Jingle Cross was a muddy mess. I tore off my derailleur in the Sunday race. If I can ride up that hill, I’m fine, but if it requires running, it’s just not much fun for me.
And Badger Cross, held on the nationals course, was pretty good. The course is not technical enough for me, but it’s still pretty fun. And I’m stoked nationals is coming to our backyard.
So lately, I’ve been racing and resting. I’m riding to school every day, continuing with the maintenance lifting, and doing a few sprints and jumps for the weekend’s race. There is still three big races left this season, and I don’t want to be in any kind of hole. Or if I’m already in a hole, I want to at least be able to suck in style!
I smiled at a race again finally at an after-season race down in Chicago. The Afterglow, held in a Chicago park, was snowy, muddy, and way early in the morning. I had a blast that day, racing most of the event with my teammate Ross through sand, mud, snow, and some crazy off-camber drops onto a beach.
In Louisville, I had a chance to talk with Georgia Gould a bit. Georgia, as you know, is a world-class cyclist, but cheers on everyone from juniors to old cat. 4s. She was even cheering for me in Cincinnati and in Louisville.
Georgia, as you may also know, had a tough cross season. She raced a full mountain bike campaign this year, and she was clearly running on fumes for the cross season. She started the whole “heckle me” as a way of at least making her poor results fun. Everyone got nervous on Sunday when Georgia found a megaphone while she was heckling everyone else!
Georgia, again, has made the best out of a potentially bad situation. She could complain about a lack of form or fitness or that she’s too tired from the mountain bike season, but she doesn’t. She says she’s just out riding as hard as she can right now, and she started the heckling competition to inject some fun.
Maybe that’s what I need: more heckling. As a member of the my wife inc team, the best heckling I got was last year at the Sun Prairie USGP when a woman I didn’t know told me “your wife wants her entry money back because you’re going too slow!” And I’m not even married!
I’ve been getting a ton of support this year with people shouting “Go Paul” everywhere on the courses I’ve raced. Maybe they see my leg and its “character scars” and feel sorry for me that I’m going so damn slow? Maybe I just need more heckling so I’m laughing while I ride.
This is, after all, a sport where grown men and women ride bicycles through mud, snow, grass, dirt, over barriers, and call it fun.
How can you take that too seriously, especially when it’s not my livelihood?
I’ll be at the New Year’s Resolution race in Chicago and ending the season at Nationals at the Badger Prairie course in Verona.
Bring a cowbell, and please offer some creative heckles. If it’s mean-spirited, I’ll run my bike over your feet. But if you make me laugh, you and I both win.