Basil as a kid. Still growing into his collar.

Indulge me for a moment as I ramble on for a while about neither bikes nor bike racing. Our dog, Basil, passed away yesterday. He was 13 or maybe 14 years old. And was with us since he was about two, about the same time I started racing cyclocross, to give this the most tenuous of connections to In The Crosshairs. This is Basil’s story.

My wife, Heather, is a veterinarian and at the time we came to have Basil in our life she was working as an emergency vet at a clinic in Annapolis, Maryland. This was 2003.

One day at work, Heather is presented with a dog at the emergency clinic whose owner is convinced has cancer. “He’s scrawny, losing his fur, won’t eat, and is sickly. Dog has cancer,” the owner told Heather.

“Well, let’s examine him and run some test and see if we can come up with a course of care,” Heather responded.

“The kids have already said their goodbyes,” The man told her.

“I don’t understand. You’re dog may be sick, but he’s not dying.”

“The dog has cancer. We’ve said our goodbyes.”

“Sir, your dog doesn’t seem to be suffering and I’m not sure he’s that sick, if sick at all … I’m not going to euthanize him for you.”

“Dog has cancer, doc.”

This goes on for awhile, some initial test are run, and the dog—named Bear—is a bit dehydrated and does have some sort of skin infection. Heather suggests starting the dog on fluids and taking some blood tests.

“We don’t have any money. Our family has already said its goodbyes. Look how scrawny he is.” Refusing to kill this cute yet skinny black lab looking dog, Heather did something she has only been compelled to do one other time.

For most of us at work, there is only so much we can come home with from the office: A couple pens, box of paperclips, on occasion a ream of paper. When you are married to a veterinarian, however, there is always the risk that what comes home from the office is alive and will require feeding and walks. This happened to us once before when living in Rochester, New York. One day, we were the new owners of two ferrets: Teemu and Persephone.

It almost happened again when we were a whisker away from adopting a pit bull who had been shot in the head by a burglar. The dog’s name was Andre Lopez, which was reason enough for me to take on that guy. But he was adopted by some other person in the clinic who got there first.

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Reviewed: Jeremy Powers Cross Camp

U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) at Nittany Lion CX

The season may have started but it is not too late to refine your skills or even jump into a race for the first time. With daylight waning and organized cyclocross practices starting to dry up, one way to give those skills a little boost going into the home stretch of your season is to get some fresh instruction and inspiration. I checked out the new cyclocross skills DVD by U.S. National Cyclocross Champion, Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus), to see if it hits that mark.

Jeremy Powers’ Cyclocross Camp is a 45 minute video that walks you through what you need to do on race day to succeed. And, here, succeed doesn’t necessarily mean winning the race, but making sure you are given the tools to race the best you can and have fun doing it. Or as Jeremy puts it, “Study these techniques and be the best cross rider you can be.”

The video is divided into about 10 sections that walk you through the race day. From packing your gear bag with all the necessary clothing and dialing in pre-race nutrition, to navigating barriers and even successfully performing a bike exchange, the video touches on the essentials and more. That being said, the video is not all encompassing. It shows you the techniques Jeremy uses that make him better. If you are watching closely, you will have more questions. And that’s not a knock on the video but rather a sign it’s doing its job of teaching. Learn the basics here, and then seek out other resources to help refine those baseline skills.

There are a couple areas in this video—how to pack a bike or communicate with your pit crew, for instance—that are definitely not meant for the beginner. None of these areas, however, deal with skills or technique, which I would argue is the most valuable part of the video. Likewise, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of clothing Jeremy brings to a race. What he sets forth is definitely a best case scenario and one made easier when your title sponsor is providing your race clothes.

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