Contrary to the comment I received on yesterday’s post by the Dirty Party Cycle, I did not win my Southern Classic Series race. I did however, score a small victory: I raced and survived. During a clearing of the weather, the cross country races went off, and my group was up next. We all had no idea what we would be in for, but we were giving it a shot.
We discussed our race strategy, which was basically just to survive. The goal was to keep from sliding off of the mountain on the muddy trails, and to keep shit from breaking (on us and our bikes.) There didn’t seem to be any competitive spirit, and it looked like we were just going out for a group ride. We took off from the start line, and Lunchbox took pictures of the surrounding mountains for some reason.
And, we were off. We started on this really steep gravel road, and it went on forever. Up, up, up, and then up some more. Two guys in front of me were in their granny gears, and they were spinning away. Since I am a 1X9er, I just suffered until my legs burned, and then suffered some more. It was gonna be a long day.
We got to the top of the road, but we were a little confused. The entrance to the singletrack was not clearly marked (which would turn out to be a recurring theme for the day), so we all had to turn around to get back on track. Once we hit the trail, it was up some more. This time though, it was on muddy, sloppy singletrack. It was difficult to keep traction, going both uphill and down. The leader was getting away, but I was happy to keep my pace.
My pal David was in front of me, and having a helluva time staying on the trail (as was I.) He offered to let me pass, but I didn’t bite at first. I figured that once I did, it would wear me out and he would catch up and pass me by again later. Eventually though I gave in, and took off. I let it all hang out and tried my best to stay on course, and it worked (barely.) I was sliding all over the place, but I kept myself and the bike (mostly) pointed in a straight line. I tried my best to put a big gap between me and David, in case he started getting frisky.
I think my plan worked, since he was nowhere to be found. The trail was a miserable, muddy mess, but I was doing fairly well. On the downhill stuff, I just kept a loose grip on the bars and let the bike do it’s own thing. On the uphill stuff I climbed whatever I could, and ran my bike up the rest. Since I was having a small amount of success, I started kicking it up a notch to try and catch the leader. I didn’t think he would be too far ahead.
I kept looking at my bike computer, counting the miles to the finish. I wanted this shit to be over with, and it wasn’t happening fast enough. I don’t know if it was the altitude or the extra ten pounds of mud on my bike, but I was getting tired…fast. At one point I came out into a clearing, which started a nice downhill section. After recovering a bit, it was back to climbing.
It was the same old muddy mess. Up, down, walk, run, ride, slip, etc. At one point I tried to hop off my bike to run up a hill and fell over in the bushes. That was my only “crash”, but I was still frustrated. It was difficult to ride in that crap, but for some reason I was still having fun. I pushed myself through it, and soon saw my reward. The trail opened up again, and I got a nice view of the surrounding mountains. Suddenly I felt energized, and put the hammer back down to get back in the woods.
With not very far to go, I gave it whatever I had left. I could hear the music from the start/finish line, and I knew I was close. I crossed a spectator area, and went right back into the singletrack. The music was fading, and I thought I had made a wrong turn. I was nervous, until I came out on a fireroad. Lunchbox was waiting there with the camera, and I was happy to see him.
Also standing there was my pal and fellow Internets celebrity Dwayne, and he directed me to the finish. He also told me that first place guy wasn’t far ahead. I didn’t have time to catch him, but I still hauled ass to the finish. It was over, and not a moment too soon. To celebrate the fact that I finished, I posed for a photo…right next to the shitter.
The trail was a muddy mess, but I hardly had any on me. In fact, several of our local Dirt Divas commented on how clean I was (I think they just liked how I looked in my Bike29 kit.) In reality, my bike held onto most of the mud.
It was a tough day. We almost didn’t race, but I’m glad I got to do it (mostly so I would have something to talk about on here.) It took all I had to finish, and I was rewarded with a second place medal for my efforts.
There was no podium action because it started raining again, so I was just handed a medal underneath a tent. It was good enough for me, because I had to earn it and I was proud of that fact. Sloppy seconds is better than sitting at home on the couch doing nothing. Sometimes you never know what you are capable of doing until you actually get out and do it.