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Why Holy Week Makes Me Cry

October 1, 2014

Why Holy Week Makes Me Cry

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As New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross got closer and closer, I got more and more excited. It’s even better than Interbike, it’s a family reunion to me. I was also terrified.

In the past couple of years, I’ve moved a lot and been pretty much nomadic. I hadn’t set foot on New England soil since last December, when I stopped in for a few hours before continuing on to Toronto. And sure, I’ve seen some of the New England crew in the past year, especially the past month with Nittany kicking off ’cross season and Interbike and Cross Vegas. But it has been a while since I’ve been able to consider myself truly part of the New England scene, though I will always identify with it the most, no matter where I am. Ontario is great, and so is the West Coast, but I’m an East Coast girl at heart.

And that’s why I was nervous. It felt like coming home to a family that I wasn’t positive still remembered me, or cared that I was back to visit.

Confession: I’m actually horrifically shy. Some people get that right away, but for others, the fact that I make a living writing about this stuff and obviously talking to a lot of people, in interviews and in book talks, makes the idea that people scare the hell out of me sort of hard to believe. I think those of you who know me fairly well get that, though.

So, I was scared at Gloucester.

By the time I was racing on Saturday, though, it felt almost like home again, and  I was feeling pretty calm on the start line. Last row, no problem! (I kind of like the last row, since it means there’s really nowhere to go but up…)

Gun goes off. First half lap, I’m making progress. I’m not doing terribly. I sail into a corner and I’m on the ground, slightly dazed. Shifters are shifted, push them back in place. Front tire is flat. Pit is right there, so I roll in, and… Nothing. I’m pretty confused, still a bit off from connecting head to ground—not seriously hurt, but definitely slightly confused. Looking for Peter’s spare wheels nets nothing, and finally, the neutral support guys (saints!) ask if I need a wheel. I think I responded with yes, but either way, they made it happen and sent me on my way.

Another half lap cleared my head up and I was back to racing, minutes behind the entire pack. Not a great way to start the race. Coming through the beer garden on lap 2, so far back that I was almost praying to get pulled, I realized that there were people cheering. Not just politely, but whole-heartedly.

I caught a couple of people. It was nothing impressive. I cannot stress that enough.

But I was smiling, the entire time. If you can’t laugh, you cry, and in this case, in this situation, I just needed to enjoy it. So I did.

What made me actually start crying though, was when I came through the finish line, and the crowd cheering choked me up. Possibly the worst ’cross race I’ve ever had, from a racing standpoint, but that New England crowd made it one of the best.

All of this to say, thanks for letting me come home.

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