Fuck it, Dude. Let’s go biking.

All summer long I’ve been seeing gaggles of brightly colored team kits on warm sunny days, riding tempo and laughing with one another. And then, around dusk, I’ll spot those same riders in the darkest corners of Forest Park with knobbies. Sprinting. Dismounting and remounting. Shouldering their dirty bikes up footpaths. Always looking around suspiciously. And alone. Always alone. Like flashers. Training… secretly.

Cyclocross is like the adult video store of the cycling world. It’s dirty. It lacks respect. And it makes people weird and secretive. Maybe it’s because cross has always been the “other” cycling event. CX is  beer to the roadie glass of wine. It was the loutish friend you kept away from your yuppie coworkers. Road racing is for people who buy bikes, and cyclocross is for people who destroy them. But in Portland, it has become the reason people race road at all. It’s the thing that everyone talks about all year long. It’s a carnival of mud and waffles and drinking and fun. And it’s the event that no one wants to appear to take seriously.

But everyone wants to win.

During the early part of the cross season, when the weather is still hot and trails still dusty, the racers show up at the early hybrid events that are more like off-road crits.  Just to watch. To see what other people have been up to. They hide their Powertaps and wear their shitty Nashbar spandex. They bring a single water bottle and they don’t shave. They want to world to look at them and say “That there is a racer who just doesn’t care.” But it’s all a lie.

They’re watching you. They’re calculating. They’re checking out the competition. They may hide it behind self deprecating references to how much they’ve been eating or how little they’ve trained, but they are getting ready to crush you.

So if you’re participating in the September Kermese races, wear some neutral colors. Bring up the rear. Look haggard. Because people are watching.