Santa’s Oversize Sleigh, by Kriskaer on Flickrby Ryan Kelly

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents said how they heard Santa had to get an extra big sleigh this year? And then you remembered how you asked Santa for a Power Wheel? In your naïve little eight-year-old mind, you probably thought Santa was getting a bigger sleigh to carry your sweet, sweet Power Wheel.

Then, on Christmas morning, you rushed downstairs to see a giant box next to the tree, wrapped in five different kinds of paper because Santa obviously couldn’t have finished the job with just one roll.

You started ripping the paper off, your eyes temporarily blinded with a mixture of anticipation, joy and greed.

When the job was finally done you stepped back and saw…a Fisher-Price play kitchen.

What the hell.

If you knew any swear words at that young age, you would have unleashed them upon Santa with ferocity you would not see again until your mid-20’s .

A pre-registered rider list is the cyclist’s version of Santa’s sleigh weighed down with Power Wheels. After years of disappointment, you learn that, on occasion, that massive box may be filled with a plastic domestic-training kit.

I ran into this twice in the last few weeks. Although it didn’t cause the emotional scarring that such a childhood incident could, I certainly used my entire vocabulary of swears.

The first instance was at the Canton Cup, a local race in Massachusetts a few weeks ago. As there was a “real” race that day (Wissahickon, to be exact), most of us New Englanders who usually finish as pack-fodder in a UCI event were looking forward to a little bit of breathing room. And, perhaps, some prize money.

I expected most pros to attend the UCI race many miles from New England. This expectation allowed me to sleep Saturday night without the Ryan Trebon-filled night terrors that have been plaguing me since Gloucester. My roommates also welcomed the change, as they were getting tired of hearing my fear-fueled screams at two in the morning.

Rolling into the parking lot Sunday morning, I thought everything was good. And for a while, everything was good.

But then.


What do I see? The black and white Jamis teamkit of Jesse Anthony.

C’mon, man! Leave us alone! Go play with riders of your own caliber!

I wasn’t expecting to win the race on Sunday (and I didn’t). So it’s not like Jesse stole victory away from me. There were countless other riders at the race who I knew were stronger than me, including my teammates.

Jesse showing up was another nail in the coffin, reminding me it was possible that, once again, I could get lapped, even at this small race. It’d be like me lining up for the kids race at Gloucester – there’s a perfectly good adult race happening, but I just decided to do the kids one. For fun. And to crush their spirits.

Now, I can’t speak for Mr. Anthony as to why he decided to stay local that Sunday; perhaps he didn’t feel like driving several hours when there was a race practically in his backyard. Or maybe he was depressed and wanted to feel better by crushing some racers who are “elite” only in title.

The result? He pretty much kicked everyone’s ass.

Fast-forward two weeks. You’d think this lesson would be a little fresher in my mind, right?

This past weekend was the Cycle-Smart International, two days of UCI racing in Northampton, Mass. As these were stops five and six in the Verge New England Tour, the competition was pretty fierce to begin with.

Andy Jacques-Maynes, along with Joe’s Garage riders Matt White and Al Donahue, and most of New England’s heavy hitters, were on the pre-reg list. Even with this already stacked field, I was at least safe from a beatdown by the team. This very website reported that, at the concurrent Boulder Cup, “…all of the major players will be represented, with Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll representing the Cannondale/ team…”

So after a quick check of the pre-reg list on Wednesday, which confirmed the flawless reporting of Cyclocross Magazine, I went about my business knowing that at least the boys in black and yellow (or red, white, blue, black, and whatever other colors are on Tim Johnson’s kit) would not be lapping me come the weekend.

Like I said, you would think that I’d retain the important life lesson of never trusting the start lists.

So there I was, sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s car looking out across the lot, eating a muffin pilfered from the Holiday Inn Express breakfast buffet.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “That fellow in the back of the red wagon sure has an interesting moustache. He looks sort of like Jamey Driscoll. But that can’t be as he’s probably in Boulder.”

I was obviously deep in denial at this point. My eyes and my brain knew what was going on, but some sort of instinctual mental block kept this information from getting to my legs, for the time being.

Then I was momentarily blinded by his blinged-out bike when he pulled it out from around the car. And my legs realized what was going on.

“Oh, shit, I forgot. Never, ever trust pre-reg lists.” Unfortunately, this thought came a few days too late.

Just like with Jesse Anthony, Jamey’s presence did not steal victory from my hands. It merely meant that I was going to get lapped much more quickly than I would have otherwise.

Jamey Driscoll chasing Ryan KellyThe advantage of getting lapped at the windy Northampton courses is that I was able to see Jamey coming minutes before he actually caught me. In my oxygen-deprived brain, Jamey went from a relatively quiet cross racer to some sort of medieval beast, chasing after me with a barbaric desire to feast upon my flesh.

This also made for some great heckling opportunities for my “friends.” There’s nothing like hearing a voice from the pit scream “RYAN KELLY YOU HAVE IMPENDING DOOM CHASING YOU DOWN.”

But I showed him. As Jamey rocketed past me on his way to victory, I croaked out an “I hate you Jamey Driscoll.”

I think he was too busy winning to hear me speak.

On the plus side, the 1/2/3 race this weekend in Plymouth, Mass has no one registered yet!

Thanks for reading.

Ryan Kelly, Cyclocross Magazine ContributorCyclocross Magazine’s contributing writer Ryan Kelly is a ‘cross renaissance man. He’s racing with the pros, writes an online column about ‘cross (see his previous entries here and here), shoots video interviews of the pros, and takes photos of the non-pros.