The other day I took my upgrade to CAT 4 for road racing after talking to some friends on a coffee shop ride. I had been hesitant to pursue it, and I doubt that based on my results anyone would force it on me. So I asked out loud at 22 mph in a paceline, "What do you think I should do?"
One friend commented, "You better get that upgrade and get out there next year and win." This wasn't really what I expected to hear, nor was it what I was looking to hear!
We laughed and talked about the dangers of staying in one place and not moving up to the next level. Moving up to the next level, especially when it's hard is a way to really push yourself beyond what you think you can do. Later that night, I put in my request and it was accepted. Uh oh, next year is going to be interesting.
In a recent interview with Lotto NL Jumbo pro, Sepp Kuss, the VeloNews Fast Talk Podcast team learned about the young rider's moving up through the rankings. Kuss talked about several races in Europe in which the pace, conditions and climbs that he faced devastated him. These were far more challenging than what he was used to domestically, but eventually his body adapted to those races, and he learned to race at that intensity. He also learned a lot about racing smarter and managing his efforts. I found Kuss to be quite inspiring. You should check the podcast out; it's great.
As cyclocross season comes on, getting my head kicked in seems like a regular occurrence, but it is also one of the most enjoyable head bashings that I can imagine. Being out on a tough course handling technical stretches and tackling obstacles are all things that have helped me improve
over time. The challenge has always been very daunting, but by going out and allowing myself to take a beating every week I came back stronger week after week after week.
Let's hope on the eve of the first cyclocross race of 2018 that this cycle of getting my head kicked in and coming back again pays off. For once, it would be nice to have a good season in cross and reap some benefits for all the time, energy, and effort that I put into it.