Heading into this Cross Season

photo Ben Hovland

I originally did this post around New Year’s and feel the need to repost it to remind myself of the promises I’ve made. The genesis of this is that I happened to do kind of well at Cross Vegas (28th overall in Wheeelers and Dealers and I beat all of the other Minnesotan’s). So now my personal expectations are quite high.

The first race of the year is this weekend and I’m already being a wanker about it. Thoughts such as “should I commute on Thursday or save my legs” are popping into my head.

Some buddies offered to take me up to Duluth this Friday to ride chairlifts and DH runs, and I was seriously considering not going in order to be fully rested and healthy for my fucking Cat 4 race on Saturday. I have to shake this, I have to knock it off. You can’t let racing stop you from enjoying your whole cycling world.


This fall I raced more cyclocross races than ever before, it was the first year of the All-City X Fulton team, and I ended up doing four Bandit Cross’ and ten “official” cross races.

I’d like to say that I had fun and loved racing, but the truth is, I ruined it for myself like I always do.

Let me explain…

It’s not that I didn’t have fun hanging out at the races, or spending time with my team, or cheering for my friends. I love all that stuff. I ruined it with expectations, as I tend to do with many many things in this life.

It happened with mtb racing in my teens and early twenties, with alleycats and now with cross. At first it’s all fun and games and light hearted, but once I start doing well, nothing but podiums will do. If I don’t place or finish first, I am thoroughly disappointed with myself.

Eight years or so ago I started racing alleycats and fell in love with racing again after being a disillusioned mtber. The speed, the thrill, the new set of challenges, the idea of making a name for myself, of seeing any rider on any street in this town and knowing that if it came down to it they couldn’t touch me, etc. After a few years and plenty of wins, I began to think of myself as the fastest guy in town, the best of the best, and I started to put so much pressure on myself that if I wasn’t feeling 100% or my legs were sore or whatever, I wouldn’t even come out anymore. I wasn’t having fun, and it wasn’t worth the risk to my reputation or fragile ego to finish midpack. (forgetting that even at my peak, I was getting beat more often than I won (Landon was the more consistent racer and best router in town))

I put so much pressure on myself to win, that all the fun disappeared, the process was lost to the result.

This year I found myself doing this again as a Cat 4 cross racer. A Cat 4, for fucksake! At Cat 4 you ain’t the best at anything, the midpack 3′s will dust your ass. But here I was again, worrying about the result instead of having fun just being there riding my bike with friends.

My New Year’s resolution is to get out and ride and race as much as possible. To lose with grace, to say screw the results, and enjoy the opportunity to ride harder than I ever could in a non race situation. Our sister brand Surly, is proudly stating that “Racing Sucks,” but the only thing that can suck is the attitude you bring to it. This is true of any situation. The desire for a certain outcome affects how we experience the process.

I’m sick and tired of ruining the moment with unrealistic expectations of the outcome. I want to change, I want to better myself. I want to enjoy every bit of next cross season.


  • sunmin

    please email me at tehsunmin@gmail.com
    not spam im intrested in buying your BMW V1

  • Chaz

    Preach it!

  • there is some deep, zen wisdom hiding in the ‘racing sucks’ mantra. it goes with me everywhere, including the occasional race. i’m mostly into cross to meet nice dogs & people anyway.

    keep it weird & fun dude!