Did my first cross country race in three or four years. I learned (or was reminded of) a few things.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Before entering a race one should consider actually training.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Carbo loading the night before is great, but not when the carbs are in the form of too much Mexican food and beer.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Don't wear baggies and a t-shirt when racing in 90 degree weather.
The baggies and t-shirt were kind of a "I don't really race bikes and I'm not taking this too serious" statement, just in case I came in last place. Looking around the starting grid I was thinking last place would suit me well. Everyone was 15+ younger than me, a whole lot skinnier and didn't look as though they had been partaking in too much Mexican beer. I offered to arm wrestle the guy next to me (buck twenty, soakin' wet) for a ten minute head start. He politely laughed at my bad joke, but declined.

Luckily the race promoter made a start line decision to send us single speeders off a few minutes before the much larger Sport class. At least I felt a bit better knowing I would have a clear track for most if not all of my race.

The gun went off and it was the usual blast down the road trying to beat everyone else to the single track. I laid back knowing that it was a pretty long race and I had better save my legs if I was too have anything left in the second hour. Losing sight of the two leaders on the first climb was the best thing that could have happened for me. I relaxed a bit, settled into my own pace and once we hit the first big descent I was surprised to be back on their wheel. Their pace in the single track was just a bit slower than I would have liked, but this was good as it let me stay fresh enough to stay with them on the shorter climbs.

Heading towards some of my favorite trails rider #2 started to drop back just a bit on a climb. Watching the leader pull away motivated me to ride over my head on the climb, knowing I could recover in the tight fast stuff and still put some time on rider #3. The leader and I settled into a really fast pace. He offered to let me around several times, but I know from past experience I'm much better to let someone else set the pace. Given the lead I will always ride way too hard and blow up. Always.

We ended up trading the lead a couple times through the rest of the lap, but I knew that I needed to drop back a bit. I could do one of two things, keep the leaders pace (with no hope of actually winning), implode somewhere on lap two and be lucky to finish or slow it down and hold what was likely to be second place. Being old and wise, I opted for the latter. This is big deal for me. I used to subscribe to the "win big or fail big" philosophy and spent many races shaking or cramping on the side of the trail.

To keep a long story from being longer - I finished second about two minutes off the eventual winner. He told me after the race that he was last years Jr. State Champ and was in the points lead for this years Single Speed Jersey. All in all I was couldn't be much happier considering my part time bike rider status. I hope to fair pretty well in a couple other races this year. Maybe I should start training...

A couple pics from the race.


Thomas Gaines said...

Duff guy says: "nice job representing the beer-drinking-family-man-contingency!"