On the edge

I put new tires on my ‘cross bike the other day. The Fango, from Challenge. They’re really nice.

And despite making my bike feel like it had Velcro tires, enabling me to take corners far hotter than I should have, the Fangos have left me conflicted. Not because of the cost, not because of the bling factor (seriously, they look cool).

No, it’s deeper than that. As road riding and racing is my thing, it’s what I’ve focused on most during the spring and summer months. Fall is merely the time where we chill out, ride lots of steady miles and stop at whatever coffee shop catches our attention.

Intensity? Hardly. Sprints? Please.

Running and jumping and mud and dirt? Wait … what? No way.

I approached ‘cross this fall as a nice way to pass the time — to do something different. I figured, “Hey, I have a bike. I have a month or two before Kid No. 2 is set to arrive. Why not?”

See? No pressure. No expectations. Just go rip around on some grass and stay fit.

And yet I found myself on Wednesday morning staring at a pair of Fangos after slipping around at ‘cross practice a week prior. “Hmmm … yeah. I bet I could really lean into that one corner … .”

Before I realized it, they were on my bike. And I was psyched about practice that night. And then I started thinking about the upcoming local races. My previous goals included “have some fun” and “don’t embarrass myself.” Those goals remain, but they’re tacked alongside “stay with the lead group” and “attack in the second half of the race.”

How did this happen? How did my lazy fall activity turn into something that gets analyzed and tweaked for better performance? Did you know I’m considering running full housing to my rear derailleur? Why? I have no idea. But my bike can do it — and run it internally — and I don’t want things to get gunked up at an inopportune time.

I’m guessing this whole “ramping up” has to do with the dynamics at play when you tell a bunch of racers — road and mountain alike — to line up at the end of a field and beat the hell out of each other for an  hour. At some point, you’re going to buy in and throw it into the big ring.

I think that point came when I spun my warmup lap the other night.

“Oh, yeah. This is gonna be awesome!”

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