Monday, January 24, 2011
Yuck. That kind of trail does not make me happy.
What does make me happy is racing without being caked in mud. After quite a few days of dry weather and sunshine, the trail at the Winter Series was in much better shape than last week. I however, was not. Before the race started, my stomach hurt. I took a quick trip to the bathroom to relieve the pain, but it didn’t help much. As I lined up at the start/finish line, I felt like I was gonna throw up. I even heard a comment from one of the Dirt Divas that I wasn’t supposed to be sick before the race. I raced anyway, and figured I would be fine.
When the race started, I was right up front. I resisted the urge to stay at the front of the pack, and when we went into the singletrack I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Actually I was right between the really fast guys and the slower than fast guys. I tried to settle in and ride smart, hoping to avoid the inevitable red lining I’m accustomed to.
After the first lap, I felt a little better. While I was really short of breath, my stomach pain had subsided a bit. I still felt like I was gonna puke, but at least I was able to race. I was still in the same place in the pack after that lap, so I tried to give it a little more effort to catch the leaders. It wasn’t easy. On the second lap, I let two guys go by. I didn’t try to catch them, as I figured that I would burn myself out if I did.
Lap three was much better. I was getting into a rhythm, and I had passed one guy that got by me earlier. As I tried to catch the next guy, he busted his ass on the trail right in front of me. I had to grab a handful of brake to keep from hitting him, and I almost fell of my bike in the process. Both of us got back on the trail, and in the process we had lapped one guy in our class. Well, at least I wouldn’t finish in last place. On the fireroad climb out of the singletrack, I passed the guy I almost crashed into and tried to leave him behind. That didn’t work, as he passed me in the parking lot on the way back into the singletrack.
As we hit the trail again, I was right on his wheel. Since I’m so heavy (and have superb mountain biking skills), I usually haul ass on the downhill part of the trail. I decided that I would do whatever it took to get by this guy for good even if it put me at risk of blowing up. I flew through that lap and planned my attack for the fire road.
At the fire road my crashy competitor was looking ripe for the kill. I passed him on the climb and shifted into a higher gear, mashing my way up the hill. My goal was to put a big gap between us, and it appeared to be working. As I crossed the start/finish line, he was nowhere to be found. I headed back down towards the parking lot, and heard someone behind me. As I swerved to my right to get out of the way, I nearly ran over local racing legend Rich Dillen as he tried to pass me. Shit. Sorry man. He got by unharmed, and I tried to keep up with him for a bit. I didn’t realize it, but riding at his pace helped me put an even bigger gap between crashy and myself.
Eventually, I was on my last lap (it felt like forever.) As I passed by Lunchbox hiding in the woods, I notified him that I was headed towards the finish line. He vacated his spot and got a photo of me coming in for the finish.
That kid is everywhere with the camera. It was nice to finish the race ahead of people, and even nicer that I did it without barfing all over the place. Maybe next time I’ll tone down the beer drinking the night before a race. Yeah, right.
I’m not exactly sure where I finished, but not finishing last is good enough for me in this series. I can actually feel myself getting back into shape, and I’m already looking forward to next week’s race. Fun stuff for sure, and it’s a helluva lot better than sitting at home on the couch. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Some mechanical stuff took place over the weekend that affected yesterday’s race, so I’ll give a full recap of that tomorrow for sure.