Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DCCX Brought the Pain, the Tiny Pancakes, and the Spirit of the Dutch

Rodney Dangerfield used to say he "went to a fight and a hockey game broke out," and in a similar manner, I went to DCCX and a bike race broke out.  Unlike most cycling events I attend, DCCX is first a party, and only coincidentally a bike race.  

That makes it special.

Photo: Marcus Floro

Last year I watched DCCX and engaged in the essential part of it.  That is, the first thought going through my head was, "$1 beer is awesome!"

If I did have a second thought, one that I remember, one that was not drowned in suds, it was, "These poor suckers racing bikes through the woods."

This year, as I explained in my previous post, I found myself committed to race my first 'cross race, for reasons of, well, being a bike racer, I guess.

Well, the race is past, and looking back, I'm glad to say that I enjoyed myself just as much as--or maybe more than--last year, probably because I once again came, primarily to enjoy myself and see old friends, rather than just to race my (borrowed) bike.

But this was my first 'cross race, and maybe is worth a bit of verbiage.

The start: Did someone say homophobes are selling fried chicken?
Cross has a strange way of organization its starts; there were boxes and rows and it somehow correlated with our race numbers.  I wandered into a row near the back with Marcus.  Thinking of "unwanted frontal penetrators" that plague races like Clarendon Cup, I found myself wishing that crits started in the same way. The logic of the boxes and its hierarchy finally came to me:  it was organized by hirsute-ness:  the front row was essentially Sasquatch men, then as things moved backwards, the last row was composed of shiny, bald men.  Thankfully, I was working on two weeks of scruff, and was able to move off the back row.

Guaranteed front-row starter
(photos: T. Simchak)

Beard power, Bizarro Taylor Jones
The group ahead of us, the 45+ bearded wonders, launched at fantastical speeds, then we all moved forward, then there was a moment of tension as we waited our 60", the smell of fresh beard juice wafting on the wind, and then they were instantly sprinting--like bigots toward the fried chicken of homophobic franchises.

I say they launched, because I failed to clip in.  No problem--I was relieved, in that I knew my race was over, and I could simply ride the course in my normal, jackassed fashion.  I could also claim to not be a bigot racing toward gay-bashing chicken sellers.

All figuratively speaking, of course.

The parcours:  Cool guys don't look back at explosions
It was probably a good thing, because the one gear I had was far too big for me, and when it came to the skillz portions of the course, I was a disaster.  As to the gearing, I'd consulted with Rugg about it.  Big mistake.  "I'd race a 100-1 myself," he'd intoned.  "They don't sell 100 chainrings, nor 1-tooth cogs, so I had to carve them out of a solid live oak, using only my flaccid penis."

I acknowledged that 100/1 was beyond me, but figured I might be up for 39/17.  Well, I was not.

Ahead of me, the Revel racing crew of Tony Barsi and Demetri Lemus were tearing up the course, and I witnessed several Crosshairs racers--extremely hairy and extremely powerful--ripping through the course, and one poor guy broke his chain.  Apparently Kristopher Auer won--I never saw him, and there is some question about whether he actually did win, because I failed to see much of a beard on him.

At one point I decided to save all my energy for the ramp, where spectators were gathered, and to launch myself from it and "catch some air."  I did so, firing off a pistol while in high speed pursuit while shouting "AAAAARGH", sending the gathered crowd into raptures.

Just then a huge explosion went off behind me, and the crowd's glee at my near-perfect exhibition of aeronautics turned into a groan of despair as a rider went down.

I did not look back.

The finish
Shortly thereafter I was pulled, as I was about to be lapped by the leader.

The rest of it
It was interesting watching the 1/2/3 race, mostly because I had the chance to dive into a pork sandwich (from the Porc truck) and sample the $1 beverages, but also because Haymarket had a lot of cards to play, and played them well.

Not that that means anything to me, since the tactics of cyclocross are, to me, as familiar as the tactics of cricket (that is, totally a cipher), but they did sweep the podium.

Representatives from the Netherlands were there selling tiny pancakes (ironic, considering that the Dutch are among the world's tallest folk).  This guy is the real Dutch deal, with a real Dutch orange cap and the Lion of Dutch-ness on his shirt and on his other shirt.
I asked the Dutch about Rabobank ending its 17-year sponsorship, and I was not exactly heard.  They were more concerned that I enjoyed my tiny pancakes and that I "drinken het bier, ja?"

For those wallowing in post road season blues, for those too mired in election anxiety to enjoy the sight of crisp buttocks clad in spandex, for those unable to see spinning spokes without sighing, for those who nearly vomit at the sight of yellow anywhere near in the shape of a loop and anywhere near the wrist--DCCX was an antidote in tiny pancakes and beer and a beautiful day surrounded by bikes going fast, a symbol of the cheerful commitment to hedonism that the Dutch seem to practice so well.

Of the event, I believe I can say a good time was had by all.*

If you missed it, tough break.

*Rugg excepted, as he always is.  A broken collarbone suffered within seconds of starting due to faulty welds on his bike.  Heal up, buddy.


CGM said...

DCCX should be an annual MABRA holiday, and everyone should attend, not racing required, only refreshments.

In other note, great meeting you on Sunday.


bike racks said...

the bike looks really impressive.