After perfecting the 'cross bike in prior nights, it's pulled out to ride to work today. Silent, fresh, tuned and tweaked to perfection. Those fresh grippy tires feel so supple over the cracks in the pavement and train tracks that the commuter felt. Someone passes you on the bike path as your eyes are distant ahead, thinking about The Race, not now. Let them pass, you know you have more in you, but you'll need every ounce of it tonight. Grass is unforgiving to any level of effort, as are the riders around you.
It all starts at 6:45... you've back calculated your day. You won't eat dinner at the normal time, you'll eat a few hours before and lighter, because you know that 'cross intensity and a full stomach don't mix. Maybe you've got the lucky socks and jersey on that'll help when you're hurting. It's in the back of your mind all day.
Some might race you, but most won't. They race themselves. Running it to red line right off the start smashes the routine of daily life. You can't remember your day's or week's stresses if you try. Your soft car seats, job, school, kids, errands all get displaced for an hour. The fierce burn of your lungs and your tires gripping the grass for all they're worth are cleansing. Your pace is set my the absolute maximum air intake your lungs can process and your legs can turn to motion. Not 50%, not 90%, but to you maximum for the entire race.
I love the cult of cross. There's no admission requirement other than to give it everything you can between start and finish. Get out there and crush it tonight.