A Lighter World: Racing Cyclocross for Fun


(video by Matt Dunning at Campus Wheelworks)


It’s been a while.

But, I’m back again.

Why am I back on this site about biking when I don’t bike nearly as much as I used to?  Why am I continuing this?  Why haven’t I just moved on and done something that doesn’t make me feel scared and tired and hungry?

Because one part of one’s life feeds another.  That’s why.

Ready for some bragging?

Here we go:

My other blog, Le Poisson Nage (about French), recently got chosen by this lovely WordPress Editor and now I have 281 followers.  A day ago, I had about 30 followers.  This is amazing.  I get updates of who is reading this blog and my favorite part is seeing that it’s in all these countries: from France to Ireland to New Zealand to Brazil.   I also noticed that some of these people who found my French blog, now have found my bike blog (hi there!).  Anyway, I started to feel like, you know what, maybe people are actually reading this?  Maybe I should actually keep writing.

And, so here I am, writing.  But the thing about writing is you have to live your life or else you have nothing to write about.

So, I’ve also been biking casually.  I have this women’s cycling club in Buffalo called Athena Cycle and while I was riding and talking to someone who I think is an extremely can-do type of person (she fixes bikes; she races bikes; she tries new things all the time–for example, she is starting flying lessons soon), I said, “I don’t know about biking.  I just think there is this moment when you have to realize what you are actually good at.”

And she said something to the effect of, “Racing for a year and not doing as well as you’d like doesn’t actually mean you are not good at that.”

She essentially said, “Why are you forming this judgment of yourself now?”

And, I thought about that.  I thought about that a lot.  And, ultimately I thought: I like biking.  I like going to races because I like the element of “this isn’t really work; this is us playing around.”  I like this about bikes.  When people get on bikes, they tend to joke around.  The world lightens when I am on a bike.

IMG_0206So, I have registered for a race on Sunday.  The first cyclocross race of the year.  For me, this race is not, as always, about winning.  It is about trying.  This has been a constant theme for me.  It’s also about finding my relationship with this sport.  I like it but I find it hard.  I love that feeling when I am impressing myself, when I feel like–wow, a few years ago I didn’t even own a road bike.  Damn, man.

This relationship is about finding calmness.  It’s about breathing in a relaxed way.  It’s also about pushing my body on a Sunday morning just as the summer is going to sleep and fall is awakening.

Ultimately, this Sunday’s race is about me playing.  I’ve been working really hard.  I’m in an MFA program and it’s demanding.  I’m reading and writing and analyzing all the time, but I realized, I’m not playing.  And. I. Want. To. Play.  Cut loose.  Get on a bike and see how fast I can go without falling over.  This is essentially the main point.

So, Sunday morning, I’m driving out to a beautiful part of New York and I’m going to watch the men’s races and the Cat 1-3 women’s race.  I’m going to take photos because that’s fun too and I am going to race.  I want to exist in a world that feels just a little bit lighter, with people who support and challenge me–who when I fall over, when I am the last one, will give me a high five because I’m there.  I’ve showed up.

Finally, I’ve included at the top of this blog, a video from the talented (filmmaker, cyclist and I’ve heard musician) Matt Dunning who works for Campus Wheelworks (the shop that got me into this crazy sport).  I like this video because it’s like bike ballet.  It shows a bunch of adults playing.  And, sometimes, that’s what it’s all about.



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