Cyclocross Masters Worlds Recap, Sort of…..

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Yesterday’s race at Master’s Cyclo-X Worlds went pretty exactly like I’d envisioned. Well, that isn’t exactly fair to say, because I’d envisioned the race in lots of different scenarios. But, it did go like the mostly likely one, or the one I’d planned for the most.

I didn’t like the course much. Not really at all. It’s not that the course was bad, it was the conditions made it very unchallenging. Don’t get me wrong, it was very challenging physically, beyond so, but that was about it. The weather changed the course up so it was pretty much a “tractor pull”, quoting Peter Webber. I can do a tractor pull, it’s just not my favorite type of cyclocross racing.

I think that a good cyclocross should have lots of different situations, where many different skills are needed. There was only one thing needed yesterday and that was power. That, and maybe just a bit of mud, hill running ability. I had enough power, to make due. And I run up hill pretty well when needed.

I never really got that gassed. That was a luxury of being so far ahead early on. My friend Jed Schneider, who was watching, said the conditions must have be horrible. He said that I was “humping” my bike. By that he meant that I was pumping it forward and backward during the pedal stroke. I hardly ever ride that way. I knew what he meant though. The deal was that I’d be riding along pretty well and all of a sudden, my wheels would nearly stop, hitting a crazy sticky stop and the only way to get my bike moving again was by pushing, or more like, pumping out of it.

I was looking for the fudge. The fudge was the wet stuff that didn’t suction your wheels back. It was the faster line nearly always. Sometimes I’d venture over to the ribbon and get on what looked like virgin grass, only to be disappointed with the speed and effort level.
It wasn’t pretty.

I never fell once. I kind of screwed up the last descent off the soccer field and stepped off my bike and kind of slid down it on my feet. That wasn’t a very professional way to approach the finish line, but it didn’t really matter much.

Everyone was trying to make a story of my shoulder and the pain, but that really wasn’t an issue at all. There were virtually no places that were trying to jerk the bars from my hands. I actually shouldered my bike for the two run ups and after the initial movement to get the bike to my shoulder, hardly noticed a thing. It is pretty sore now, after the race, but that is to be expected I assume.

The only valid complaint I have about the day is that the race was too short. I did the first lap in just about 10 minutes on the spot, thus the race should have been 4 laps, which would have been right about 40 minutes, which was the scheduled distance. So, making the race only 3 laps seemed off. I would have ridden the race in right about 42 minutes, which is within time parameters. I do understand the time restraints, trying to keep the day on schedule, but the scheduled time is for the winner, not for the middle of the pack or last riders. I might have been the only guy out there wanting to ride one more time around in that slop, but I figure I’m not going to be racing for a while now, so why not. It’s not that really of big deal.

I have to say, like I did yesterday, I’m relieved that the race is finally over. These health and physical undulations I’ve had the last few weeks have been mentally stressing. I’m sick of all the system checks. I usually don’t have this problems, questioning my form or ability, but I definitely had that issue this week. It doesn’t sit that well, I don’t like it much. But, it is rewarding overcoming (I’m not sure that is the exact right word) these problems.

I think that I’m done racing these Master’s World Championships under the current UCI rules. I hate my cyclocross schedule, or I guess I should say, lack of schedule. This season, it wasn’t that bad because I was hurt for long periods, but with not being able to place in any UCI races, I have no desire to go to the races that I’d like to race. I’d rather just do Elite races and see how well I’m riding and forget about this. Maybe, eventually, the UCI will realize that the only stipulation to racing Masters events should be by age and not by ability. Since it only really applies to cyclocross racing in the United States, I doubt it is very high on their priority list.

It would be rude not to state that Bill Elliston has done an excellent job with the course, considering the weather conditions and how it played havoc with the ground, tape, just about all aspects of the course. It is amazing that the guy is out there from the crack of dawn until late in the afternoon, moving stakes and making sure everything is good, trudging around in this deep mud and then still racing the event. Some kind of stamina.

Today is just another twist. Now it is all frozen, covered with an inch of overnight snowfall, plus it is only 9 degrees right now. Everyday, just like last year, has been completely different with its own challenges. Today the challenge is going to be trying to stay on your bike. Frozen ruts are tricky for all and will come into play deciding today’s race winners. I play to be out there all day, watching my friends race and hopefully learning something while doing it.

Here are a couple interviews I did after the finish. And a little footage of the race itself.

13 thoughts on “Cyclocross Masters Worlds Recap, Sort of…..

  1. Jim

    Okay, now that you have the win (and I do say congrats) it is time to stop complaining about EVERYTHING in your life. You work hard and you were lucky in the genetic lottery, I get it. You are so far superior to me (and most of us who read this) that we can’t even begin to realize how good you are.
    When you have a bad arm/shoulder, bad ribs, flu, jet lag, whatever, and you still kick our asses, how do you you think WE feel??
    I know how good Shogren and Price are and they weren’t in the same county when you finished.
    Enjoy the victory. You earned it BUT please stop the whining about things that don’t go “right”.
    You are too good for that.

  2. Doug Punches

    Congratulations on your win Steve.

    I agree 100%. The no UCI points rule is stupid. It basically says “Oh, sorry.., You’re too fast! You can’t race the World Championships!” WTF?

    As a lot of Pros get to be our age, UCI should really consider having 1-race for each age group, but scoring Elite riders and everybody else separately. Maybe they could award a “Pro Masters World Champion” and an “Amateur Masters World Champion.”

  3. timm

    Nobody cares how you feel Jim. I come to this blog to read how Steve feels. To read about the life of a professional cyclist, in all its detail. What an amazing insight he provides us. You read whining because you internalize too much. Congrats Steve! And thanks for the effort with this blog.

  4. JIm

    Steve, Congrats on your win! I do not agree with the other JIm. it’s your blog and I enjoy reading about your approach to training and racing and dealing with injuries. So great that you share this with all of us.

    Jim B.

  5. Wildcat


    As athletes reach the level Steve is at, the details are exactly what they worry about. They don’t worry about the same things with training and such that you and I worry about. Racers at Steve’s level obsess about the small stuff. It is the nature of being an elite level athlete. Plain and simple.

  6. tilford97 Post author

    Hey Jim #1- I normally wouldn’t respond, but feel sort of obligated to this time.

    As an athlete, I do analyze my health on a constant basis. When I have an injury that is going to require surgery and not riding my bike 4-8 weeks, only 3 weeks before the event I’ve been training for months, yes, it is going to be stated here.

    And when less than 10 days before the same event, I get some stomach bug that curls me into a ball for 3 days and I loose 10 pounds of weight, then yes, same thing, it is going to be a major concern to me and posted here.

    This is my website and a lot of what I write about here is my personal feelings and thoughts.

    I take it as an insult that you are calling me a whiner. Those were real issues that I had to deal with. Now that the event is over, I’m relieved that neither derailed me from the goal.

    And how do the other competitors feel? That’s not really my place to say. I was better than them yesterday. By a large margin. Nothing I do here is trying to belittle their athletic abilities. I’ve been doing this sport for a very long time and have a lot of experience to overcome issues. Most the time it works, but when it doesn’t, then it is a huge disappointment.

    Okay, that’s how I see it. I’m sorry, but when I get sick or feel shitty, then it is a priority to me, because of being an athlete. When I spent two months roofing my building, I had a bad chest cold pretty constantly and I didn’t think twice about it because I had no reason to worry.

    I can’t see changing my mindset. It is how I think. Sorry if it comes across as whining.

  7. Jojo

    One of the reasons I enjoy this blog so much is that Steve is so honest. Hard to find that these days. Gives me some small insight into how athletes at his level prepare, compete, what they worry about, etc.
    Don’t always see things his way, but wouldn’t change a thing about his posts.

  8. H Luce

    I’ve known Steve for a long time. I’ve never once heard him “whine”. Not once. I’ve seen him be nervous, be tense, be worried about how he is going to perform, and I’ve seen him pissed off when something went wrong. I know Rodney Mullen, a skateboarder out in California, and he’s every bit as driven as Steve – but he doesn’t have a weblog or talk about things as much as Steve does. That’s the thing, Steve wears his feelings on his sleeve, so to speak, and some people interpret that as “whining”. It isn’t that at all.

  9. Ross


    I am very impressed that you can ride with 2 torn rotator cuff muscled rt shoulder

    Inspires me to get out there and train wether it is xc skiing or biking

  10. dave

    All I gotta say is….if you don’t particularly like what you read here…..then don’t visit this site!

    I’m a physical therapist in the US Army, I give huge kudos to anyone that can ride (much less race) a bike with the shoulder issues Steve has.


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