Thursday, May 27, 2010

Casual Observer

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the Summer Series races are a little stressful to me. Not the fact that I’m getting my ass kicked every time I race, but more like it’s a little difficult to even get there sometimes. Couple that with a little workday stress and that makes it pretty difficult to have a decent race.

Yesterday was no exception. I like to try to get out of work to make it to the races with plenty of time to warm up, but that doesn’t always happen. I stayed a little later than normal yesterday, so I decided that I wouldn’t worry too much about whether I got there or not. On the way to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, I called up Mr. Shepherd so he could chill me out. We talked about how you have to be in the right frame of mind to race, and also about how important it is to get there with plenty of time to get ready. As the minutes flew by, I came to the realization that I probably wasn’t gonna make it with enough time to be able to race.

When I finally arrived, I changed into my riding stuff, grabbed The Big O, and headed down to the registration area. With the race set to kick off at 6:15, I really had no time to ride at all. I decided to sit this one out, and just play volunteer/spectator for the evening. I grabbed my camera and took a few photos of the start of the race.

After everyone got out on the trail, I decided I would try to ride a lap (singlespeed style no less.) As I hit the trail, I didn’t feel too bad. I picked up the pace to see if I could manage a decent lap time. Just as I was starting to doubt my decision to skip the race I came upon one of the junior riders in the first section (about a mile or so in.) He was walking his bike, and looked to be having a little difficulty. I asked him if he was okay, and said that he was a little tired. He told me that he had been riding pretty hard this week, and that he was looking for the exit. I told him I would walk him out if he wanted, but then he said, “I think I can go on.” I rode behind him for another mile or so, giving him encouragement along the way. After dismounting on one of the climbs, he picked up his pace. I told him I would watch for the expert riders coming up, and that he could go on without me.

As I stopped on the side of the trail to let the little guy go, I decided I would whip out the camera to try to catch a photo of the Space Cowboy as he passed by, but I guess he was just too fast. I shouted a few encouraging words at him and packed up the camera. I figured I would get him on the next lap, so I took off down the trail to find a prime picture-taking location.

When I entered the singletrack again, I tried to pick up the pace. I knew the expert riders would be coming up quick, so I wanted to clear the trail for them. As I approached a long, slippery downhill, I spotted a pile of rider and bicycle at the bottom. I quickly recognized him as the junior rider from before. I stopped and asked him, “Are you okay?” He said he thought his nose was broken. Long story short, he had crashed face first into a tree at the bottom.

I grabbed his bike and moved it off of the trail, and helped him up to the fire road. I told him I would get him out of there, and we could get some ice on his injury. I warned the approaching riders that there was a rider down, and we started heading out. About halfway down the fire road, my buddy Doug walked up behind us, apparently the victim of a flat tire. Ironically, he had just ordered an Awesome Strap, but it had not arrived yet. He had no spare tube or Co2, so this race would be a DNF for him. He kept me and the little junior rider company though, so maybe that whole thing was fate.

As we walked out, I kept asking the little guy questions to get a gauge of his mental state. He was a little dizzy, so we took frequent breaks along the way. When we finally got out of the trail and back to the start/finish line, Little Miss Sunshine took over the medic duties (I had called ahead to let her know.) With a little ice, we were able to keep the swelling down, and he would live to ride another day.

Looking back, I suppose it was a good thing that I didn’t race last night. Had I not been out there goofing off, that little guy might have been out there in a pile for a lot longer than the few minutes it took for me to get to him. I’m all about helping the kids, so I’ll chalk this race up as a success. Even though I wasn’t out there fighting for a last place finish, I was still out there for a purpose. I only got in about 3 miles of riding last night, but I felt pretty good that I was able to help out. Maybe you can learn a lesson from this too. It’s not always about your best lap time, the prettiest bike, or having a shitload of sponsors. Sometimes you gotta take time to stop and help your fellow rider, especially if it is one that's the future of our sport. See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Bodhi said...


Actually, this is an excellent metaphor for life. And I'll do you one better; despite our belief that it is, it's almost NEVER about your best lap time, biggest house, shiniest car, or fanciest doo-dad.

Take time to help your fellow rider; whether that is on the, trail,track, road, sidewalk, skid row, etc.