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Mike Sharkey practices a cyclocross run-up at Valmont City Park last year.
Mike Sharkey practices a cyclocross run-up at Valmont City Park last year.

The zing zipped through my index finger as I gripped a pinch of plastic. I rubbed it with my other hand as my husband lowered me to Movement’s springy floor. Bending it at all hurt.

My fingers have been tweaky for weeks from more time in the gym and bouldering, so he looked at me and said, “So you’re done climbing for the night.”

“No way, that was only my fifth route. I’ll tape it and climb with my other nine fingers.”

It was the only logical thing to do. But later I realized it was a small act of illogical behavior (that at the time I deemed highly logical) that indicated that I’m starting to get slightly obsessive.

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Jenn Fields blogs about Boulder’s great outdoors at .


Obsession gets a bad rap for good reason. It lands us with injuries. It strains relationships. It makes you push forward (with nine fingers) when you shouldn’t.

It also makes you better.

“For me, in ‘cross, the obsessiveness comes with trying to perfect what is seemingly unperfectable,” said Greg Keller, local cyclocross racer who writes

Greg writes about his ‘cross obsession often, but it’s clear in his blog that he strives to balance his family, his business and his need to race cyclocross.

He thinks there’s a good side and a bad side to obsession — you just have to look at individuals and their motivation for obsessing, he said. Growing up, his family had an unhealthy lifestyle. Now, Greg is motivated to counter that:

“Can you fall down another path of being overly obsessed and addicted to things to keep you on the straight and narrow? Yes. Is cyclocross that for me? No.”

Lifelong obsession

Greg’s cycling obsession started long ago — at a birthday party when he was in kindergarten. His best friend got a bike for his birthday. Neither of them could ride it, but Greg wanted it so bad that he neglected his friend and party and learned to ride a bike that day — on the brand-new bike.

“Clearly, 34 years later, it’s still with me,” he said. “It’s a core part of my life. It’s just something about the elegance of cycling. And when I saw ‘cross, it was everything, it was athleticism — you can’t just get on a bike and ride hard. You have to ride elegantly.”

Greg obsesses on that elegance. The perfect race is a race without bobbles, with fluidity through the barriers, he said, and that’s what he trains for and teaches when he gives ‘cross skills clinics.

He said he tells people at clinics:

“Don’t run away from failure. Obsess over what could be around the corner. Your win is around the corner, or your definition of a perfect race is right around the corner. And that’s something really great to obsess in.”

Around the corner

What’s right around the corner is why I’m starting to obsess in little ways over climbing. I know there’s bigger, better, more, much more around the corner. I can taste it. That’s why obsessive behavior, even the destructive kind, is so tempting — the taste of potential success, reward for the behavior.

And it’s more than just success — it’s the experience success can garner. Greg told me that nearly every amazing moment in his life has been entwined with cycling somehow. If our love for a sport is tied to so many meaningful experiences, isn’t it deserving of a word that doesn’t carry the negative tone that weighs down “obsession” — even if we dub it a good obsession?

If my slight obsession grows (and I fear it will), I’m going to simply say instead that I’m passionate about finding out what’s around the corner.

Jenn Fields’ Field Notes runs every Monday in the Colorado Daily.

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