For some, an 'x' on the calendar indicating six weeks until their first race is the first sign that 'cross season is just around the corner.
For others, the need for arm warmers on those 6AM training rides is the first sign 'cross season is getting close.
Still others know 'cross season is near when they pass their local parks and spot the gaggles of strange looking 'dancers'...the cyclocrossers dismounting and re-mounting, trying to re-birth a latent and un-practiced skill set.
For me, the first sign of 'cross is my own sticky, crusty, viscous drool.
Something about 'cross efforts provokes slobbering. The mouth hangs agape, the mind hones in on the pain, and the breathing becomes so labored as to expel all accumulated and accumulating saliva. This seems to be less of a trend when astride the road bike. Then again, maybe I'm just not pushing hard enough on the road bike.
Anyhow...last evening found me on the trainer and in the gym doing some 'cross-specific micro-burst intervals. These are part of the training routine in the run-up to the fall season. And sure as heck, I found myself drooling like a cat that has caught a big ol' whiff of Vick's vapor rub (was my cat the only one to have this Pavlovian response to the menthol fumes?). I think my sloppy spittle drove a few of the prissier gym rats from the facility. That's fine by me, for as much as I try not to be self-conscious, I do get a tad embarrassed during my more disgusting moments on the bike. I'm a site to see...red as a beet in the face, jersey unzipped and exposing my pale and emaciated torso, sweat pooling all around me, still more sweat sprayed across the mirror to my front, breathing like an angry bull, and generally looking on the verge of complete physical breakdown. If I had the choice, I'd look away or run from the room. Anyhow...
Turns out, the drool factor exists in real 'cross scenarios (out on course and usually paired with the snot factor) and in virtual 'cross scenarios (in on trainer). Last night was my first drool of the year. 'Cross season must be nigh!