Friday, November 16, 2012

Cyclocross Cybernetics

I raced the Greenstreet Cyclocross Weekend last weekend. The venue was held at the former Fontenelle Golf Course in central/north Omaha. Kudos to Randy Crist and company for getting that course set up for all of us to have some fun.  Good times were had.

The race and course conditions changed drastically between the two days.  Saturday was unseasonably warm at 75F. It was also very windy. Saturday night brought thunderstorms and a 45 degree drop in temperature. I don't think it got above freezing all day. The rain actually helped the course by softening it up, allowing for better bite on turns. That, plus running the direction the opposite way somehow gave more recovery between the hammer sessions.

I entered the open 1-2-3 races.  The fields were small on both days. I finished 6 of 12 on Saturday, and 3rd of 8 starters on Sunday. For not having trained much cyclocross this season, I'll take those results.

Since cyclcross is a combination of fitness and technical skills, some may wonder how I was able to dial it in so effectively. In truth, nobody probably cares. But I have a story to tell. So like it or not, I'm going to tell you how I did it.

I did it by practicing cybernetics.

My friend David Kohll reminded me about cybernetics a few weeks ago at swimming practice. David is a fierce competitor and is a multi-gold medalist of Masters Nationals Swimming.  So he's got some creds. Anyway, David was telling me that he uses cybernetics to imagine his races before the actual event by imagining the venue and how he would perform at it.

Think. Do. That sort of self-fulfilling prophesy mumbo-jumbo.

I took his advice to heart and decided to use cybernetics to prepare for this cyclcocross race and its venue ahead of time.

Fortunately, I had some electronics to guide my cybernetic therapy sessions. It's called the Ninetendo Entertainment System (NES).

The best cybenetics training device for your buck
Now for those unfamiliar with NES, getting it to actually work is half the battle. The NES is famously finicky about getting the system to accept the game cartridge in its input slot.  It's common to get a screen full of snow or pixilated images when attempting to boot up. But with a little finesse, these obstacles are easily  overcome. This usually involves taking the following steps in order:

  1. Plug in cartridge, turn on NES.
  2. Curse when system does not work.
  3. Pull out cartridge, blow dust off, twice.
  4. Re-seat cartridge, try system again.
  5. Curse when system does not work
  6. Get a different cartridge. Duck Hunt is an excellent choice. 
  7. Jam Duck Hunt into system; quickly yank Duck Hunt out.
  8. Re-seat original cartridge, try system again.
  9. Repeat la la, until you see this:

This is what I used to get my game on for the CX weekend.  Oh golly, the good times came rolling back when I heard Excitebike's 8 bit theme song:

Bahr bahr-bahr, bahr-bahr-bahr!
bahr bahr-bahr, bahr-bahr-bahr!
ba-ba ba-ba-dah,ba-dah 
ba dah-dah-dah-dah, dah!!

Lemme tell you something. 1984 old School NES was way ahead of its time. Everything was spot-on. My only issue was that Shigeru Miyamoto didn't provide an option to choose a yellow bike.

Oh well, I chose the blue bike instead.

From the starting line, my heart rate was rocking. Just like in real races.

And as in my cyclocross races, I also was beaten from the starting line sprint to the first berm.

As I recessed into a cybernetic stupor, I began to talk to myself on that blue pixilated bike. Encouraging stuff. Like, "It's okay, it's okay. Lots of time ahead. No need to panic just yet... baby step it through this technical stuff."

And you know what, it worked! I managed to get through that portion without a spill. 

A long straight away then followed. I looked for a wheel to duck behind. I latched on to a rider wearing what looked to be a red and white MWCC kit. 

Let's call him Shim.

I sat on Shim's wheel to catch a breath. For a long time. He pulled for like the next four laps. It was awesome.

Somewhere along the way, he started getting cranky. Probably because he was tired of pulling. 

His bike handling skills became sloppy. We crossed wheels and crashed. I tapped the A and B buttons rapidly to scramble back on the bike.  That's when Shim said it was my turn to pull.

I punched it and went around him while catching some sweet air.

At this point, things were looking great. I had fresh legs and only one last technical section remained: the barrier section. 

My thumb was already numb and stingy, but I squeezed the "A" button nonetheless.  My thumbnail had gone white.  

Shim was charging and trying to pass.

We hit the barriers at the exact same time. We both chose to bunny hop the barriers.

The checkered flag was just ahead. I punched the "B" button (turbo) to sprint the last 40 meters.  My temperature gauge alert was screaming at critical level. 

Just a little further.... It was going to be a close finish...Who was it going to be for the win? Shim? Me?


Wait, what was that? That sound wasn't coming from the NES.  But yet, it sounded vaguely familiar. My cybernetic fog was starting to burn off my brain. In its place, a woman's face began to resolve.


There it was again.  Ah! Now I recognize it -- that was unmistakably the sound of my wife's voice, and it was quite terse.


"Uh, yes dear?"

"You left your glass on the coffee table again!  How many times do I have to tell you that you're gonna cause a ring stain if you leave it there?!"

I looked back at the screen just in time to see the finish: Shim tail-whipped me into the ditch a moment before taking the checkered flag.

Bahr bahr-bahr, bahr-bahr-bahr...

1 comment:

  1. With the nasty weather Sunday, I didn't feel like going to watch the races. Thanks for the cybernetic recap. I think this is proof of what my good friend Jim Easton has been saying about that asshole Shim all along. GSV.