Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holy Week Mash Up (Part One)

Every religion has a Holy Week. Each religion has its own set of rituals and beliefs but the basics are the same. Penance, sacrifice, atonement, suffering, release, and transformation. At least that is the hope. You go through a week (or in some cases a day) and come out transformed. Cleansed if you will. Imbibed with a new sense of purpose. My religion is Cross. By any definition I worship at its feet 365 days of the year. Is this healthy? No probably not. Is it transformative? There is no denying that it has changed me as a person and as a biker.

I have talked about my love affair with cross and how it all started on the sand dunes of Sea-Tac at Nationals over two decades ago. But New England. Wow. Unless you have lived here and let yourself be absorbed by its cross culture you have no idea. None. I jokingly refer to it as the Sparta of cyclo-cross but the more I become imbedded in the culture the more that reference doesn't seem that far off the mark.

The Gran Prix of Gloucester has always stood out as one of the Monuments of cross in the United States. It kicked off what a lot of us were calling the Superweek of cross. Superweek has a nice ring to it no doubt. But Holy Week may be more accurate. Gloucester-Night Weasels-Providence. What a week. I am going to do a mash up of all that happened. No race reports just what matters most the culture, the vibe, the magic.

The biggest story about Gloucester was the women. The 3/4 women to be exact. On day 1 there were 100 women lined up for the 3/4 race! Can you even believe that? Talk about growing the sport! The year prior there were 60 women. Sixty is a great number don't get me wrong. But doubling the number of participants in one year! It was a great day for cross in New England. It made me proud to be a part of this culture.
Hup United's women's ranks have also grown in the last year. We have also seen our ranks double. But what has really blown my mind is not just the energy and comradery these women have brought to Hup but the fierce competitiveness they have shown week in and week out. They work hard, they don't ever complain or blame a bad race on something or someone else. There is a lot to be learnt from these women and the example they set about how you conduct yourself as a bike racer. Style, class and fierceness.
Fierceness? When I saw the pictures of Meg and Michele on the runup at Gloucester I was blown away. Now that is how you do it! I put that image in my suitcase of courage and said that is the face I want when I am racing! I want to race with a fierceness like they do! The pain face that they both have says it all! These are good friends and teammates not rivals and they are killing themselves to go as fast as they can. No settling in and taking it easy. Fighting for every step, every corner, every spot. That is how I am racing the rest of this cross season!

So to all the women in New England bringing their A game to cross every weekend I say chapeau! You all get it! Keep fighting the good fight! And most importantly thank you to my Hup Teammates you ladies are amazing.


  1. That's an awesome photo! although Meg does look a little demonic... must be the teacher in her coming out

  2. oh chip. . .how am i supposed to be demonic and fierce if you make me feel all fuzzy and lovey?

    i believe what you are seeing has been called my "jan ullrich" jaw. it appears when i am actually trying.

    thanks for profiling the ladies. we are a darn nice bunch of killer robot racers.