ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
The phrase “Morning Flowers” might seem an odd way to introduce you to my latest ramblings, but it seems appropriate given that this is what Samsung uses to kick start my day every morning at 5.47am - then again at 5.55, 6.00, 6.05 and finally 6.10.
Winter seems to be sapping every ounce of energy out of what once was an energetic morning routine. Where laziness was previously squashed by the fear of being stuck out in the oppressive summer heat, the biting cold of a Victorian winter morning breeds complacency. Morning temperatures last through till late afternoon, then the day is over as quickly as it started, all before I would even dare head out during the summer for a late arvo spin.
Whenever I’m trying to avoid something - in this instance the season of winter - I usually find myself experiencing more of it than ideally I would
like (whether through divine intervention or sheer coincidence). This manifested itself more than ever this past weekend in what must be one of the stranger events you can do on two wheels: cyclocross.
If you thought weird cats turned up to mountain bike races, I’d rate them as a 4/10 on the strangeo-metre when comparing them to cyclocross regulars. Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s nothing bad about being a little strange - and one thing is for sure, cyclocross is a f***ing hard sport. What I found out is that apart from the odd Instagram fake wannabe, of which there were only a couple, the majority are proper racers. Everyone put themselves deep into the hurt locker.
Strangely enough, I felt more at home racing side by side on the Stigmata against the cyclocross crew than I have at some international races on my mountain bike - riding a bike that, even
though it was designed for this type of riding, hasn’t evolved much since the dawn of mountain biking itself. It was a refreshingly tough battle, one that was rejuvenating at a time when winter can start to suck away some of that motivation. It made me smile, remembering that on any Sunday, no matter what discipline, if you’re getting to race your bike it’s a good day - irrespective of the weather.
This brings to me to the World Cup DH circus! You might be thinking that it’s a strange segue I’m trying to make here from cyclocross to World Cup DH, but the stark differences in attitude could be seen all the way across the globe from Austria to Australia. Admittedly some of the track in Austria seemed a touch politically correct, the technical sections all smoothed out, but the snide remarks and whining that everyone was making through social media only proved how young the sport still is in some respects. I applaud those who look to push the sport in the right direction, but complaining like five-year-olds on social media because someone took your bottle isn’t going to solve the problem.
There are those that are putting all the discussions to one side, though, and focusing on racing fast on a Sunday afternoon. A bunch of Aussies are heading that list, and at the top is Jack Moir. Jack’s had a rough couple of years coming off the back of multiple collar bone injuries, but his time is coming. I remember seeing Jack at Whistler 2016 for Crankworx - there was a large Aussie and Kiwi contingent taking a break and having a loose time during the event, but you could see he was there to build on a season that started off earlier in the year with another broken collarbone during team camp. He took himself out of the party scene and into staff accom, and later threw down a very impressive second place in the Canadian Open DH - and he hasn’t looked back since. Good work mate!
I, too, am about to head across to the northern summer, further adding to your Instagram depression during the winter! But before I go, one thing I’ll finish on, and something I didn’t think I would be saying… after all the Sunday afternoon racing I’ve done this summer, the toughest was lining up next to lycra-clad, skinny-tyred hipsters. Go figure!