Masochism pervades the field. Participating is a reprieve from the mundane, an all out effort, feeling like a kid again. It's chance to endo, or faceplant in the mud, perhaps even break a collarbone, but that's all part of Cross.
We have jobs, mortgages to pay and families to support. We endure the weeks of pressure weighing us down, but the weekends, when we race cross, that pressure is gone. It's just about being there, akin to the childhood pastimes we relish, playing in the snow for hours on a snow day hands and cheeks freezing, jumping and climbing on things at will without any concern for getting dirty or skinning my knees. It is the same, my fingers freezing, the same numbness against the same heightened awareness of my breath and my blood coursing, pounding in my veins. The satisfaction is in finishing, doing it first would just be icing.
Though technically a race, even expert and elite racers see cyclocross as a chance get off the couch, to toss the book and fuzzy slippers and to ride without the impediments of bicycle computers, cardiac monitors, power meters, and the grinding chores of the peloton. Their smiles are telling. Mud-spattered and adorned with permanent grins we labor to the top of the run up, there's no doubt they're hooked. I am hooked.
"I'll feel the grit of the mud in my teeth for hours and I'll develop bruises where my shins repeatedly banged into the barriers, scabs where the crank raked my calf embedding grease in a biker's tattoo, but as I drag myself back to the parking lot to head home, already I look forward to the next... Cyclocross!