Last week was a dry and fast one in Tabor, then a wet, sloppy one in Plzen last night. I'm not talking about my recent escapades with European men, but the Cyclocross World Cup series.
My second and third pro cyclocross races watched through grainy live feeds [and most likely the first of many with Dutch commentary], the Cyclocross World Cup series is integrating itself seamlessly into my Sunday nights. I nap expressly to stay up later for the twisted curves of the 'cross course, and self-medicate copiously with coffee the following Monday. I'm aware that I'm regressing to full-on weird behavior again, where my schedule is dictated by pixelated bike racers with impossibly foreign names like Sven Nys and Radomir Simunek, Jr. This would probably be considered alarming behavior by normal people, particularly for a single 20-something living in the giant playground that is Tokyo. I am, however, fortunate enough to have friends who believe that this is a legitimately acceptable way of whittling away hours that could be spent sleeping on a Sunday night. They even encourage it.
Call it the payment in arrears due for neglecting my race spectating addiction for too long this year, but the irresistible draw of the World Cup series is probably due more to the simple romance of anaerobic hell done the European way. The pro/WTF of Sven Nys snapping a chain in Tabor and still coming in fifth, riding around the course all like, "aight, get out of the way." Pauwels looking pretty much as miserable as I do when I climb stairs [except I don't do it with a bike on my shoulder, at any pace that is faster than "plodding"]. It doesn't hurt that, when you see someone you're lucky enough to call a friend racing in the World Cup series in his iconic Red Bull helmet, you're completely allowed, even in the cycling world, to emit low timbered "YEAH, BRO!"s like a frat boy watching the Superbowl.
"You look refreshed today," an attorney commented yesterday.
"Really...?" I responded. I was three cups of coffee in, and the last time I saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror, it looked like I was still celebrating the pre-Halloween weekend in the guise of a corpse. But mud and 'cross had been on my mind all day, flashes of dirt-splattered legs and failed dismounts softening the computer screen glare and fluorescent lighting of the office.
Back in my three-walled cubicle, I stared down at my calendar. Three more weeks until Koksijde. Three more weeks until another live stream of awesome.
[First set of pictures are from Tabor, the muddier ones from Plzen.]