Humility Attained

I’ve grown accustomed to being the center of attention, a function of my overbearing personality, outlandish sunglasses and high-visibility style of criterium racing.

Admittedly, I’m more of a spandex-wearing Dennis Rodman than an equivalently tightly-fitted Michael Jordan; regardless, the bottom line is that I’m used to entering reasonably high-level races with a reasonable probability of placing well and an even higher probability of making myself noticed regardless of my finishing speed. It’s a role I have cherished.

You’ll likely be stoked to hear that my foray into the world of cyclocross racing has forced me to reassess my ego.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the famous Yukie Nakamura and her husband Mark — who lent me a ‘cross bike — I’ve had the joy of racing the past two Bay Area Superprestige ‘cross races, the first at Sierra Point just south of San Francisco and the second in the heart of Golden Gate Park, approximately four miles from my house.

I had intended to slip quietly into the ‘cross scene by racing in the B category event at Sierra Point; however, top NCNCA ‘crosser Krishna Dole commented on my “please come heckle me” post, successfully goading me into racing the A category event. When summoned by Krishna himself, you don’t back down. I’m pretty sure he could kick my ass with his red beard alone.

In my first-ever ‘cross race, I finished 41st; in my second, I finished 37th. In both, I’ve been utterly unremarkable…pack fodder, at best.

I’m a nobody. As if my finishing places weren’t clear proof enough, allow me to clarify further.

After the Sierra Point race, as I was valiantly holding back a barrage of projectile vomit, Krishna introduced himself to me by saying, “Hey, you’re Rand right? I’m Krishna. I’m a mid-pack Cat 4 on the road.” It was an outwardly kind and deferential statement, but I believe what he meant was the ‘cross equivalent of the timeless trash-television line “Welcome to the O.C., bitch!”

This past weekend, Josh Snead — one of the hippest pseudo-roadies I know, and easily one of my favorite crit punching bags — was far less veiled with his taunts.

“Rand,” he said, looking directly into my eyes after he finished fourth in Golden Gate Park, “you’re never gonna beat me at ‘cross. I just got off a plane three hours ago and I haven’t ridden all week.”

He’s probably right.

In spite of how badly I suck at ‘cross racing, there are two reasons why I’ve been searching for cheap ‘cross frames on Craigslist:

1. The heckling by fans at ‘cross races has been spectacularly awesome.
2. I beat roadies Tyler “Fatty” Dibble, Nate “Finesse” English, and Phil “Hey Everyone Look At Me I Got a Pro Contract With a Team No One Has Heard About” Mooney in Golden Gate Park. Success is all relative.

Let’s discuss point number one a bit further. As many of you know, I’m a heckling connoisseur and advocate, to the point of being inappropriate at road cycling events. For example, I’ve received scornful looks from the easily-scorned Jess Raphael for screaming “EAT THEIR BABIES!” and “KICK THEM IN THE OVARIES” at my favorite female bike racers during criteriums. Apparently that kind of wailing is inappropriate in the road cycling context.

However, ‘cross races are gold mines for uncensored heckling. People love yelling cruel comments in the faces of ‘cross competitors. I have it on good authority that semi-mild-mannered, almost-famous James Mattis (Cal Giant) spent the entire evening at Sierra Point thinking of biting, scathing, hurtful things to scream at me…and that he became noticeably depressed when he ran out before the race ended.

This photograph succinctly summarizes my experience in ‘cross.

Notice how badly I appear to be suffering, and how violently the heckler in the background is lambasting me. The best part is that I’m pretty sure I don’t even know that person.

Here’s another one, this time of my (former) teammate Matt Beebe smiling like a giddy schoolgirl following his spirited but uncreative yell, “You Suck, Rand!”

God, I love ‘cross. I love it.

I’m hoping to be racing this weekend’s BASP finale at Coyote Point in San Mateo at 1pm; you should come tell me how badly I suck so that Josh Snead doesn’t have to.

Seriously.

17 responses to “Humility Attained

  1. I’m think that’s Roman giving you an earful there. I’m sure he was saying something nice.

  2. I’m think I should get some sleep.

  3. Dammit, I bummed to miss the last BASP event ever. I’ll have to heckle you from afar. I had a lot of fun cheering for you and then cheering for Rob Dahl (“Don’t let Rand beat you!”—even KCM got a laugh out of it) behind your back.

  4. I made it. NOW I can retire. I’m in Rand’s blog!

  5. Great post. I gotta thank Krishna for the “encouragement” he gave you… Because racing B’s would be the easy way out for you!

  6. Don’t know if you saw this, but it’s a pretty good shot.

  7. Just wait, Rand: in a few years you’ll only be racing crits to relieve the boredom of the summer off season…

  8. +1 to Krishna’s comment. Glad you’ve finally seen the light, Rand.

  9. Welcome to the scene. Krishna is absolutely right. Just wait till you start splitting your summer between road for speed and mountain for handling skills. Hope to see you this weekend, as well as on the road next summer.

  10. Just wait until you start getting shouts of “stop sucking!!”

    Regardless, as I was discussing with folks after this race, any heckles of “you suck” or the like are FAR better than the ones I’ve gotten towards the end of mountain bike races where I am truly sucking such as “way to persevere!”

    Here’s a picture I got of you looking like more of a pro than that first shot from Ronnie above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedk/5221109481/sizes/l/in/set-72157625376416797/

  11. I’m bummed to miss the last race of the series as I’ll be back at work. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the cross racing though. Definitely fun, and definitely the hardest racing I’ve ever done. Way to stick it to Tyler, Nate, and Phil last weekend.

  12. Thanks to everyone who heckled, commented, or read this post and chuckled at my awful ‘cross form.

    I’ll see all of you at tomorrow’s mudfest, assuming I can get a bike lined up. Man, I need my own equipment!

  13. Nice to meet you, Rand, and good job at Coyote Point! Not bad for your second ‘cross race…

  14. You know, you could have just posted that picture of you having a little fit in the mud and saved yourself a lot of typing. Pretty much says it all, that photo is precious!

    • That said, you do deserve some serous props for coming out to suffer- I’d like to point out that Rand is the one shredding the tail end of the A field while Roman is merely spectating and feeling giddy about the fact that he’s at a bike race AND having fun. Rand=stud, Roman=dud. Maybe next year, eh Roman?

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