Paul has been getting muddy and having fun doing it. Photo Courtesy of Paul Warloski

Paul has been getting muddy and having fun doing it. Photo Courtesy of Paul Warloski

Sponsors, Challenges, and Settling into the Season Routine

by Paul Warloski

On Mondays especially, it’s often challenging to stay positive. I’m tired, a little cranky and sore after a weekend of travel and racing. Dealing with seventh graders who still have the same daily amount of energy is a chance to truly practice “choosing a smile!”

Mike Heenan and I spent the weekend at two Chicago Cup races: PsychoCross in Waukonda and Carpentersville. We did the 1, 2, 3 race on Saturday and the 30-plus Sunday morning in the mud. Both races were fun (although my 1,2,3 race that included 30 racers was inexplicably shorter when pro Brian Matter passed me with two to go, and I was pulled by overzealous officials. Seriously? I just want to race my bike, and there were less than 30 riders at the line!)

When mwi cross was first created by Mike and friends, the team was known as my wife inc. The idea was to honor and acknowledge the wives who support their husbands’ ’cross habits.

I was the only single guy on the team, until our stud junior, Ian Haupt, joined. Dave McElwaine from once did an interview on the team that suddenly at the end turned into a joke about finding me a wife.

’Cross, perhaps bike racing in general, is a tough sport for spouses. I have been married before, and my cycling did cause some, well, disruption in the marital bliss.

Jessica Heenan, Mike’s wife, admits that she would not be upset if Mike decided to give up ’cross racing. But what I’ve been thinking about is that since Jessica knows that Mike races every weekend from September 17 until January, if she wants to see him, she needs to go to races.

Watching races every weekend, though, can be dull. So Jessica has turned the proverbial lemon into lemonade, or more precisely in her case, lemon-frosted cupcakes.

As a part-time cupcake baker, Jessica has become something of a celebrity on the ’cross circuit. Everyone from Molly Cameron to Jeremy Powers looks for her cupcakes at races. She started bringing them to races for the team, and it snowballed from there.

“It’s a lot of fun to bring cupcakes to races,” she says. “People started finding out we had cupcakes. Then I found out what certain people like and now people are coming to our tent to pick up the cupcakes.”

Jessica is a mwi cross flag-waving sponsor. At the races, she’s often the public face of the team as we warm up or cool down. And this year, she’s started the Cupcake Chronicles, complete with her own logo and t-shirt.

The Chronicles started last year when Jessica was grilling in the mwi cross tent. After a couple of drinks, she started interviewing people, including Molly, with the spatula, asking them silly questions that would never make it on the regular ’cross news.

At the USGP in Sun Prairie, Jessica managed to bring her cupcakes and unique interviewing style to a number of pro racers.

“It gives me a place in what’s going on,” she says.  “Cupcakes bring the love. Cyclists and non-cyclist alike love the cupcakes.”

I’m thinking about Jessica because she has made the best of a potentially challenging situation. She knows that if she doesn’t go to races, she won’t see her husband much. And if she does nothing at races, she’ll just get bored. So she’s created a life for herself that meshes well with her husband’s ’cross habit.

All year, I’ve been writing about doing the best with what we’ve got and being happy with the results we get, not get upset with the results we expected.

Our team race, ’Cross the Domes, was a few Saturdays ago, and as any promoter knows, this means no sleep and not much training for the week before the event. The whole day was a huge amount of fun. We got a lot of compliments on the course and the community festival we helped organize.

And I raced, not well, but I still tried to ride hard and have fun doing it. On Sunday, Mike and I traveled up to Kewaskum for the second race of the series. I knew the course was stupid hilly and I was already stupid tired, but we went anyway. Since the crash, I don’t run very well, and a long run up would be a challenge.

But my friend Fergie was there to race with me, take some beer handups, goof around on the run up, and keep my spirit light. I wasn’t driving the bike well, and my legs were dead tired. We finished, and I managed to get some WFQ points because of Fergie.

The two USGP races in Sun Prairie could not have been more different. Saturday was hot and dusty. After a lap, all I wanted was a bottle of water to rinse the eight pounds of dust from my mouth. But … I rode strongly in that race after a slow start, and managed to beat both of my teammates!

On Sunday, the skies opened up and rain fell all day. By the time I raced the 35-plus, the field was a mud bath. At the start, I was jubilant to ride through a massive puddle. But then I forgot how to drive my bike, and I slipped and slid the rest of the day.

In Carpentersville, though, while rain turned several parts of the course into mud, I actually cornered well and made up many places. Must have been the Clement PDX tires that Mike glued up on the Corsa wheels!

It’s a long season, and we’re just getting started! I’m in the groove of Monday rest, Tuesday rest, Wednesday intervals, Thursday rest, Friday openers, Saturday and Sunday race.

Even though it’s a Monday, and we put on another race Saturday at Doyne Golf Course, I’m excited to be racing, even if I’m single.

In case anyone remembered and was keeping track:
After the USGP – Sun Prairie, the score is Warloski 2, Crusty 0.

Just saying.