Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Over the winter, I made a goal for myself. I decided this year I'd try my hand at mountain bike racing. Now that the race season is getting under way, it's time for me to start living up to my grand plans. This is the story of my first such race.
During the long drive out to Black Diamond where this destined adventure was to take place, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. My palms were sweating and one thought kept racing through my mind, "What are you thinking? You're no racer." I decided that I would race, but not compete. I'd let the entire pack ahead and then ride at my own pace. I just wanted to get an idea what it was like and then decide if it was truly something I wanted to pursue.
That isn't quite how it worked out. The pure energy of all the racers at the start forced my legs to go faster and faster. The start of the race, as with all mountain bike races, was a mad dash for the foot wide ribbon of dirt where the wide pack of raging cyclists were reduced to a wheel to wheel serpent winding through the first twists and turns of the course.
|"What are you thinking? You're no racer."|
I had lined up towards the back of the pack to start the race, but soon after the bell, I found myself needing to pass anyone and everyone in my path. My passing frenzy came to a quick halt where the gravel road met the first stretch of singletrack. Much like my daily commute on I-5, riders were backed up slamming into each other, cursing and frantically trying to get through the congestion. The only thing missing was the honking horns.
After passing through that mess, things calmed down significantly. At that point, I was content playing follow the leader. I just hung on the back tire of the rider in front of me mimicking his every move. After about a mile, that grew old. I wanted to compete. I wanted to race. So I started passing.
A little farther down the trail I literally ran into my friend Jeff. It was his first race too. I was trying to wind my way through the stranded bikes up this vicious hill. I called out, "On your left, on your right, left," etc. I was trying to wind through so many riders that by the time I got to Jeff, he didn't know which warning was meant for him. A friendly bump, a not so friendly curse (sorry Jeff) and I was back under way.
Soon I found my rhythm. I was well off the pace set by the leaders, but I was content. I was still passing people so I was feeling good. By now I was focused on my riding and no longer caught up in the hype of the competition. My pace was strenuous, but by no means pushing myself to my limits. I continued to pass.
|"A friendly bump, a not so friendly curse and I was back under way."|
After 2 laps around this 3 mile course, I caught up with a rider that seemed to be on my level. We would jockey back and forth for position. I'd pass then she¹d pass. She eventually won the competition at the end.
That's right, the end. I finished. I managed to complete my first race. And actually, I felt great. I just wish I had pushed myself harder earlier on.
I finished in the top 20 out of about 40 which I was very proud of. But I was content just to finish. This was part of a weekly series and now that I've got a taste of racing, I'll be back for the rest.