Grant Berry takes the win in Bend © Andrew Yee

Grant Berry takes the Nationals 30-34 win in Bend © Andrew Yee

We’re excited to welcome Durango, Colorado, racer Grant Berry to the Cyclocross Magazine fold. This is the first installment from Grant, and he reflects on life, ’cross, dog bones and how they can all interrelate. Stay tuned to cxmagazine.com for more to come from Grant all season long!

by Grant Berry

As I sit pondering my first online article for Cyclocross Magazine, my attention turns to the steady stream of memories running through my head. Like a bad Youtube video set to some non-descript, low grade techno, the images are on repeat. I am smiling, and I have goosebumps. Before the video loops and starts over, the last images look something like this…

As I turn on to the pavement for the last time, I can finally let in a bit more oxygen. I look down at my legs to make sure they are still attached to my body, and it is all becoming real. The crowd is cheering, and someone with a Durango Wheel Club jersey briefly runs alongside me and shouts something, though at this point in time I hear neither. I make sure to take the last 90-degree paved corner smoothly – dumping it at this point is not an option. I look back over my shoulder once more to see if the gap still exists; it does. As the finish line banner approaches, I feel the emotion release like a dam being broken. The last 40-some-odd minutes have been blank and thoughtless, and it’s finally time to let myself believe it’s true. I close my eyes, and throw my hands in the air.

I have just lived my dream of a lifetime: I am a national cyclocross champion.

The low-grade techno music fades out…

My name is Grant Berry, and I race for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Cycling Team. I’m 34 years old, which puts my UCI racing age at, what, 39 I think? I’ve been lucky enough to call Durango, Colorado, home since 1994. I have a beautiful girlfriend, Kristin, and a very hairy yellow dog named Bentley. Bentley is the luckiest Golden Retriever in the word, as my day job is working as sales manager for Zuke’s All-Natural Dog and Cat treats. My official title there is “Intergalactic Bone Hustler.” For the first 10 years of my employed life, I worked at a couple different bike shops as a salesman. I ended up selling dog treats. Go figure.

I’ve been racing bikes since 1998, cyclocross since 2001, and attending Cyclocross Nationals since 2004. I love all things cycling but, like it is for you, cyclocross is one of my deepest passions.

In this column, I’m going to try and share a perspective on racing that I think lots of folks can relate to:

I work. I train. I race my bike. I work more. I travel for work. I travel to bike races. I travel to work and side-trip to a bike race. I answer questions about why there is mud in the back of the rental mini-van when I return it. I train. I run. I ask why anyone would run except to run a three pack of barriers faster, or to escape from a bear. I answer questions about “Why the hell would you want to ride around in circles in the mud and snow?” I sell dog treats. I show up late for conference calls because I have been on the noon-time Durango ’cross ride. I work more. I race more. I live. I breathe. Cyclocross.

Our “off-season” is coming to a close. For me, this is maybe truer than for most. Off really meant off! Big aspirations to consistently race all year on the road and mountain bike have continuously been snuffed out by life. I have raced a handful of times, and had mediocre results at best. I am, once again, starting cyclocross season carrying the same aspirations I had one year ago, but with a pinch of nervousness, a very small dollop of random fitness, a keg of motivation and two legs that have not suffered enough yet this year. I’m cautiously excited.

For this upcoming ’cross season, I have some somewhat scattered and broad goals. They are:

  • Do as many races as I can including the USGP series, a couple of NACT events, and as many local races as I can smash in between.
  • Show up to Nationals as fit as possible, and do the best I can.
  • Continue to grow the sport locally by helping host a cyclocross clinic for all abilities. Also, help our local cycling center (“The Hub,” owned by former US Pro Road Champ and Durango local Chris Wherry) with cyclocross specific coaching and Computrainer workouts.
  • Walk my dog more. As much as he loves and appreciates ’cross, his true passion is doing things outside with me. All the better if it involves a leash, a stick, his Frisbee, or any combination.
  • Get better at gluing tires. Anyone who knows me at all knows how much of a yard sale I am when it comes to working on bikes, and this very much includes gluing tires.
  • Improve my core strength. I would like to be able to do the plank as long as Kristin can. I see a plank-off in the future!
  • Write this column with some sort of regularity!

I have my work cut out for me, but I’m really excited for cyclocross season. I’m also excited to be writing this column and sharing my thoughts and experiences with everyone who is interested, and perhaps even with the occasional guy who could truly care less.

Thanks for reading.