Melancholy Baby Cancelled by Crazy Legs

Every cloud must have a silver lining.
Wait until the sun shines through.

Those two lines from My Melancholy Baby sum up this time of year - the early descending darkness, the waiting out the Winter for a brighter Spring.

Back in the day I always would feel a little melancholy when the end of October, beginning of November, would roll around each year. It was a year that revolved around the racing calendar - late January to the end of October, when the last race was run. Those nine or ten months were filled with energy; in the days between races I would bounce between rides, a round of steady solo ones and white-knuckle group ones, filling the weeks. November days signaled an abrupt shift - most of those group rides slowed for the season, those that did not ceased entirely until well into the new year. With a snap of the fingers, all that energy was suddenly gone, or at least confined to the weekends.

To try and fill that gap I would ride loops at the Rose Bowl a couple nights a week through the winter. Those were almost always solo and would do little to assuage the melancholia. The ghosts of last seasons training races circled with me, climbed the hills in my wake, loitered around the parking lot as I hurriedly packed to get home to light and warmth. But while I missed all that energy and excitement, there was always the other side to consider as well. I looked forward to the slow down, a change of pace, to relaxing a bit before ramping back up, after a month or two, for the start of a new season. 

Lets face, it I haven't done a road race in ages, or so it seems. These days, calling myself a racer is solely based on the evidence of renewing my racing license each December. Maybe due to that, the melancholia isn't felt as strongly. Even so, the off-season still soft pedals through at a slower, lower intensity pace. 

And that brings us to Thursday (last) night.

before we ride, we drink coffee

The riders who come from twenty-five miles around and have made the Crazy Legs Ride a twice a week big deal, fail to grasp the significance of the term off-season. They fail to fully understand what it means, and the great responsibility that comes with that understanding. There I was, fully committed to practicing the fine art of the off-season with some thirty, or more, riders in front of me and none behind. Upon reaching the hill at the edge of town I latched on to a couple pairs of wheels whose riders, like myself, were making no extraordinary effort to be the twenty-seventh rider to reach the top.

Later, we rolled along the Badillo speedway as a single entity until a traffic signal caused a split, and with that the nights laughing group was birthed. This group rolled along at a healthy not-going-to-catch-back-on speed, an anyway-it-is-the-off-season speed, until that front group was not just out of reach, they were out of sight.

At the Glendora Cut-Off (shortcut) half the laughing group turned right, while the other half made as if to continue along the standard route. I did what any self-respecting off-season rider would do, I waited just long enough for everyone to commit. Then, at just the right moment, a moment that was the pure essence of off-season, a moment that would not be noticed by anyone else until it was too late, I quietly turned right myself to join the others honoring all those legions of off-season riders who have come before us.

Lets not forget, there is a lengthy tradition to uphold, a tradition perfected by generations of riders stretching into the murky, distant past, a tradition of pros lounging on beaches, spending two weeks worth of consecutive days with their families. A tradition that recognizes the length and exhaustion of a racing season, and recognizes the need, nay the right, to ride slowly through November and the first half of December.

If the Greg G's, the Jason C's, the David F's, or any of those guys and gals wearing Win, Tru, Incycle, or SC Velo team kit, attack the bunch as we roll along at a nice conversational, off-season pace, add your voice to the many others grumbling about it. Make it loud enough that they can hear it as they sprint away and feel guilty about the winter pain they are the cause of. Call them out, call them back, remind them - "hey, this is November, this is the off-season."