I know, it’s a shitty title considering…
Anyway, this could be called a race report. I woke up yesterday morning with a strong desire to stay home. I had such a shitty day the last time I raced that I wondered if I had it in me again. Plus, I wasn’t really recovered from two laps in the heat with nothing to drink. I know, who gives a shit.
I left the house and started thinking about my strategy on the ride up to
Park Winston-Salem. There were a few “fast” guys in a bigger than
normal field. I figured that when I lined up I’d get my shit together. My heart wasn’t in it at first, and that
continued when we started the race. I
didn’t do my normal “sprint like hell and take the lead”, but I did get up
somewhere near the front…
Until we hit that big ass hill.
That hurt, and I suddenly realized that I wasn’t really ready for back to back weekends of racing. As I hit the trail, the leaders sprinted away and I was left trying to find my legs and lungs. We hit a downhill section and I recovered a bit, just in time to see a few people climbing the next hill fast. I think I was sitting in sixth place but I was fading quickly. One guy went buy on a climb and it turned into survival for me. That’s no way to race.
The trail went up, down, up down. I was getting bored and questioning my will to even keep it going. I didn’t mean for that race; I meant the entire rest of the season. I had this internal struggle that I couldn’t explain. All of a sudden though, I started feeling good. I pushed it hard up a few climbs and recovered quickly. Then we hit the technical section…
I’m not sure about the double black diamond designation, but it was nice to have something different. Luckily I got a peek at this section pre-race (shout out to Jack H.) and I knew what to expect. There were lots of rocks, which was a nice change from your run of the mill XC singletrack.
I breezed through it, cause I got skills (or luck.) After that section I spotted a guy in my class, which was the carrot I needed to get my mojo back. I made it my misson to catch him, no matter how long it took me.
I hit the last little section, passed through the start/finish line, and saw him up ahead. After another trip up Derby Hill (with much less fatigue this time) I hit the singletrack with newfound energy. I used less gears and stood up on the climbs, and after a few downhills I found myself nearly running over the guy I was trying to catch. Rather than make my move then, I decided to ride behind him a while to wear him down.
It worked, because on the next set of big climbs I mashed away while he struggled. I passed him and did my best to put a huge gap between us. Suddenly I was racing again, and actually felt like I belonged out there. It was too late to catch up the the Cat 1 guys, but I gave it everything I had and felt much better about myself. I cleared the “Little Pisgah” section again without incident and, knowing that I was getting close to the end, gave it everything I had left. I crossed the finish line nowhere near the podium, but feeling good about the effort I gave.
It’s not supposed to be easy. But, it’s supposed to be fun. I didn’t think I would be able to do this entire series again and have fun. That happened in the past.
I won’t let it happen again.