By: Simon the dog
Have you ever had a moment when you just know. You know it’s your time to shine. Did you seize the moment? Or did you let it pass you by?
I had one such moment this past cross season…
As many of you know I am a huge bike fan. My mom got me into mountain biking a very young age and it just worked for me. I loved being on the trails. Racing behind my mom’s bike at Mohican, cutting off the switch backs and running with the wind in my face. My favorite moments were group rides. My mom would show up with me at the trailhead and the other riders would look at me in disbelief! They judged me by my short legs and small stature–quickly writing me off. They would try to convince my mom to leave me behind, but she always backed me up with confidence, saying, “Just wait, you’ll see”. You see, she too had been to group rides where the other cyclists had underestimated her and she knew how satisfying it was to defy them! I loved the look of shock on the other cyclists faces when I would shred the trails, keep up the whole time, holding my line, and usually beating them to the final trailhead. I became so good, I even taught my younger sister, Nala, how to shred some gnar.
A few years ago, my mom discovered cyclocross. It was shortly around that time that she decided I should retire as a trail dog. I never wanted to (I knew I still had it in me), but she was worried I was going to get hurt. She kept saying something about ‘being middle-aged’ and having a ‘bad back’-I don’t know what she was talking about. Anyways, the first cyclocross race I went to I was hooked! I loved the excitement, the cow bells, barking at racers flying by, and scavenging food dropped by pedestrians! For some reason I was never allowed to race, I guess there was no corgi category. But Mom always made up for it by riding together at the end of the day. She would wind through the woods and fields, with me barking at her heels, and stop at streams so I could cool off. It was fun, but I dearly missed the thrill of screaming through the woods, chasing after a sick 29er, going breakneck speed.
My favorite races to travel to were the UCI cx races. Mom always brought me along, she said it made her feel more calm to have my company and I am the loudest cheerer on course! She can always pick out my barks amongst the crowd when she’s racing. This past Fall we were at one of my favorite races, the Derby City Cup UCI race in Kentucky. The course is fun to watch, the people are nice, and at least a few times a day someone drops really good food on the ground. Unfortunately this year, mom wasn’t feeling 100%. She had been sick earlier that month (I know because we spent a lot of couch time together) and missed some key workouts. Her second day of racing really tired her out and I know she was eager to get home and rest, but a situation arose that I decided was my once-in-a-lifetime-dare-to-be-great-moment. Mom was packing up the car to go home. Trevor took me and little sister Nala for a walk on the far end of the venue–the furthest point away from the course. He let me off the leash because I am usually the responsible one in the group. I noticed him look away and in that moment I heard the bell ring at the course and I knew. This was the moment I have waited for. The moment I could run in a real Cyclocross race.
I ran over to the course and saw the tail end of the peloton. I jumped on course and started following, running as hard as I could. When we reached the sand I noticed the men were slowing down, but I could see some guy further up the course. He was easy to pick out because he was wearing red, white, and blue. I decided to pass these guys through the sand and catch up to the course leader. I passed a bunch of guys going through the sand and caught the lead group of men, the first of whom I think people were calling ‘Jeremy Powers’. I had enough wherewithal to draft off his and another guys wheel. I ran so hard it felt like my feet barely touched the ground. My muscles were straining, my lungs were bursting, and I had never been happier. And that’s how we raced for half a lap. I heard the announcer announce my name and people even started cheering for me. I heard strangers calling my name from the sidelines! One guy even had food! And I knew that was my prize, so I pulled off to the side to claim it. He said it was time to find my mom, so I knew my race was over, but for a brief period of time I basked in the glory of my accomplishment. I raced harder than I ever had, and felt completely content with my effort.
It wasn’t until I saw my mom that I thought maybe this might not have been a good choice. I guess she had no idea I was living out my dream and had been searching for me all over the venue. When she saw me being carried by the man, she started crying. And I thought, ‘uh-oh, I might be in trouble’. But instead of being mad, she hugged me really hard and said she was glad I wasn’t hurt. When she was told I was officially a racing dog, strangely, she said, ‘sounds like I have a lot of apologizing to do’. I guess what I did broke some rules…
She took me up to the race director to apologize and then to the announcer to apologize. They were both totally cool with it and said no one got hurt so everything was all good. In fact, the announcer suggested I come back for the podiums-he totally recognized my success on the course. In grand total we apologized to six different people (which I thought was a little excessive, but mom said was very necessary). At the end of the race, we went up to the podiums and sure enough, there was that guy in the red, white, and blue and the other guy in green who had won. I looked at them, these amazing athletes, who have formal training, nutritionists, and teams of people to help them to success, and thought I did it. I raced with them, kept up, and lived out a personal dream-I felt like I was the winner. I looked at my advisories with admiration and like something out of a movie, the guy in green called me over, picked me up and held me up with him on the top spot of the podium! Everyone cheered and people were taking my picture, and I knew I had done it.
You see, I may be ‘middle-aged’, ‘retired’, have a ‘bad back’, ‘short legs’ and be ‘small in stature’ but I have the heart of a lion, the fight Ali and the courage of conviction to seize my moment–so what’s your excuse not to grasp yours?
On the way home my mom assured me that this truly was my last race participation. She kept looking at me and shaking her head. While she kept saying she ‘couldn’t believe I ran off’ and that ‘I was never allowed on a course again’, she had a hint of a certain smell–I think it might have been pride. Later that evening when I dozed off in the car, I heard her mutter “I have never met another dog, animal, or human being with as much tenacity as him”. I don’t know what tenacity means, but when she said it, I could hear the smile in her voice.