Why sandbag in cross? Really do you have to even ask? Because it is F'n really hard. You can be a fast road racer (well probably crit rider right?) and super strong mtn bike racer but with one pedal stroke into the steel cage that we call a cross circuit all that periodization and power tap training don't add up to jack. It can be a huge bitch slap of reality across your fleshy cheek. And after a couple of weeks of getting beat down each Sunday it is going to get demoralizing really fast. You might even think F this cross business I am going back to my fixie and my tight jeans... at least the coffee shop girl thinks I am cool..
Nobody wants to feel like they suck. Frankly if you aren't sandbagging cross isn't fun at all. Seriously if you are having fun on a cross course you are probably sandbagging. If you are racing in your proper category you will literally feel like you are dying. There is no other way to be fast. If you are racing you have to turn yourself inside out each lap to just hang on to a mid-pack finish and maybe avoid getting lapped. This doesn't sound so sexy when people ask you how you did at the race that weekend. They want to hear "top ten" or you "won" they do not want to hear about moral victories of not getting lapped by the leaders.
People are pretty pissed about sandbagging right now. It's kind of like smoking right now. An easy target. And there have been some pretty blatant offenses lately. But what does it really mean to be a sandbagger? Is it winning? Winning by 2 minutes over some "fast" guys? Is it rolling up to a 3 race or a 4 race with deep section carbon wheels that cost more than some peoples monthly salary? Is it a fetish for all manner of french tubulars?
I have been subtly (or not subtly) accused of sandbagging the Masters 3/4 race. And I did sandbag the 4 race out at PDX at the USGP finals. But like all sandbaggers I wasn't really sandbagging because I was still a 4 at the time and there was no other category for me to go in but the 4s. So when I was wayyyy out in front on the first two laps and Richard Fries was "guaranteeing" my victory it was the height of east coast sandbaggery on the PacNW. Thankfully I crashed heavily on the final lap and three locals beat me or the baseball bats may have come out for day 2..
The point is raise your hand if you have never sandbaggged? I don't see a lot of hands up. Wait you say you had a reason for racing that 3/4 race because of time constraints? Or you weren't feeling good that week? You sandbaggged period. By your own definition. Personally I think we all need to lighten up.
It will all work out. I am wayyyy over my head right now racing in the 45+ As. I am going to get beaten like a drum at the Verge races that are lining up like some kind of Algonquin lacrosse gauntlet. Oh you never played JV lacrosse and had to run the gauntlet? Lucky you. Your only hope was that no one brought a wood stick and they'd play by the code and only hit you on the back of the legs...I was never so lucky always took one across the front of the thighs...but that shit makes you tougher trust me. And that is how I am looking at this right now.
Ok enough soapbox onto some good stuff. A little PSA for my cross brothers and sisters. One of our biggest FoHU the outlaw Jesse James has been bitten hard by the cross bug. He has totally drank the Hup Koolaid and wants to jump in the deep end of this cross game. First call I made was to Mickey. Holy crap that dude just gets it! I sent him what I thought was THE parts list. He fires back a list and I am like "hell yeah" why didn't I think of that...If only I wasn't soooo deep in the doghouse with my benefactor at the moment I would be all in for my own personal spooky....maybe next year...in the interim if you are even considering getting a cross bike do yourself a favor and call Mickey...