#crossiscoming across the Northern Hemisphere, and that includes Ireland and our friends from the OldVelos. Brendan Hennessy returns with a look at the Seven Stages of Cyclocross as he and others get ready for the new season.

by Brendan Hennessy

Are you overexcited at the prospect of the return of cyclocross? Do you find yourself imagining success? Are you bunny hopping in your sleep? If so, you may be experiencing some of the Seven Stages of Cyclocross.

The Seven Stages of Cyclocross are well-recognised phenomenon experienced by cyclocross riders ahead of competition. The stages of cyclocross may be experienced individually, in tandem (not the best way to approach cyclocross, all the same) sequentially or haphazardly.

Indeed, how or when they present themselves is not of great consequence, what is of import is that they are on the horizon, are indisputable and are best accepted than denied. If you find you are experiencing one or more of these stages, it may be appropriate to seek professional support. Personally, I find surfing eBay very comforting.

Stage 1: Exhilaration

You will experience exhilaration as you wait to hear the dates and locations of your local cyclocross calendar. Exhilaration may be experienced in heightened form prior to the unveiling of the dates as it is only with the confirmed calendar that riders may experience the highs and lows of realising they must forego a favoured race for marital harmony but might just get out of attending an in-law’s birthday.

Stage 2: Ambition

Feelings of ambition are not uncommon amongst all riders in cyclocross. It is perfectly acceptable for cyclocross virgins to feel ambitious, some psychologists have argued it is a prerequisite. Ambition, however, will reach its climax amongst more experienced riders, even those whose road racing or TT season has been abysmal.

Ambition can lead to hope and feelings that all is not lost, that somehow, possibly due to a tangle on the starting line, a solo to victory is on the cards. Such feelings are perfectly normal for B-race riders (like me).

Stage 3: Reflection

Doubt is a common human emotion, even amongst cyclocross riders. However, as much as doubt may be suppressed by the stages of exhilaration and ambition, there is no dispute that among many cyclocross riders, signs of reflection have been noted. That these occur mainly in car mirrors is irrelevant; the fact is cyclocross riders do take many, many, long hard looks at themselves to confirm their inner and outer beauty.

Reflection is an important part of the Seven Stages of Cyclocross. 2017 CrossVegas. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Reflection is an important part of the Seven Stages of Cyclocross. 2017 CrossVegas. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Stage 4: Self-Asseveration

This complex stage has been known to require the Oxford dictionary. Put simply, this stage is when a rider makes a solemn commitment to themselves that they will indeed train ahead of the season. Thoughts of intervals on the road, cyclocross field or, indeed, gymnasium are not uncommon but often unfulfilled. According to your competitors, this is perfectly ok. This stage is often accompanied by desires for upper body strength.

Stage 5: Mechanical Ideation

Mechanical ideation is a recurrent theme in the cyclocrossers life. It will have raised its promise at the end of the previous season when the cyclocrosser intended to treat themselves to fancy shiny new gear, only to discover that their partner has signed the children up for a horse-riding camp.

Now that school has restarted feelings of mechanical ideation will recur, resulting in many hours on eBay and local second-hand websites. This stage refers only to frames, brakes and wheels.

Tyre matters are dealt with separately below.

Stage 6: Inflation & Deflation

The stage of inflation is experienced most acutely by tubular users. Many people wrongly assume that inflation relates to psi, when in-fact it relates to the experience of sew-up aficionados that their favourite tubs keep rising in price. Deflation, on the other hand, is very much a clincher phenomenon, not only does it relate directly to memories of the race (or place) lost due to over-inflated tyres but results in tubular envy and consequently degenerates to the inflation stage.

Stage 7: Visualisation

While it would be helpful for you to visualise your cyclocross skills, mounts and dismounts, winning moves, as well as crossing the line arms aloft and waving, visualisation is a much more mundane phenomenon, yet exceedingly common.

Visualisation refers to the practice of going through thousands of pictures from last season where you look your sweatiest, dirtiest, meanest, bravest, fastest, happiest and best.

And for all that, and more, we have the upcoming cyclocross season to thank.

Visualisation means finding your best photos and sharing them on social media. 2018 World Cup Waterloo. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Visualization means finding your best photos and sharing them on social media. 2018 World Cup Waterloo. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

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