Monday, March 30, 2015

Third Time’s A Charm

I’ve mentioned before that I was “un” “retiring” from XC lap racing.  I wanted to give the Southern Classic Series another shot and see what could do.  Sure, I got burned out back in 2012 when I last raced in it, but maybe I wasn’t in a good place mentally or something.  Who knows.  With a lofty goal of doing the whole series (after missing the first race), I kicked off my “un” “retirement” yesterday at San Lee Park in Sanford, NC.

Up at six a.m. to feed the pets, I started having second thoughts.  After a stretch of warm weather here lately, I woke up to below freezing temps.  I really just wanted to crawl back in bed.  I didn’t though, and after loading up my stuff I hit the road.  It was cold.


As I headed E/NE away from Charlotte, I saw the temps drop down to 22 degrees at one point.  Resiting the urge to turn around, I starting thinking about what I would wear during the race.  I knew that I would warm up quickly, and with a little over two hours of driving time I had plenty of time to go over everything.  As I got closer, I started to get nervous.  I hadn’t “competed” in XC in about three years, although I did race in one last year just for fun.  I told my nerves to shut up, and suddenly I was in the parking lot.

I walked up to the registration area, grabbed my number plate, and started getting dressed.  I ended up with a light DeFeet base payer, arm warmers, knee warmers, and my really cool new Trail Ninja socks…

I was pretty chilly, but spinning around the parking lot and up and down a big hill started warming me up pretty good.  Soon, it was time to line up.  That’s when the nerves really got to me.  I looked around at my competition and wondered why I was there.  I got that negative shit out of my head and started going over my plan…

“Don’t get caught up racing.  Put in a good first effort, settle in, and don’t worry about chasing anyone down.”

When it was our turn to start, we sprinted up a big, steep hill.  With only one gear, I had no choice but to fly up it until I could find a spinny pace.  While I was doing that, I realized that I was out in front.  Shit.  I didn’t mean to do it, but it worked out that way.  Suddenly, as the hill crested, one guy shifted into a bigger gear and flew by.”

“Don’t chase him down.  You can get him later.”

I didn’t listen to myself and immediately took off after him.  The road leveled out and I was spinning my ass off.  With my heart rate through the roof, I entered the woods first, with second place (and everyone else) right behind me.  I knew I was gonna blow up after that effort, so I kept pedaling and waited for the inevitable.  I was still working hard, and building a small gap. 

Suddenly, I felt really good.

My heart rate slowed down, my breathing evened out, and I felt like I had a ton of energy.  I put the hammer down, and after each switchback climb I could see that I was pulling away from the group.  Entering the first technical section, I cleaned it and added even more of a time cushion.

I knew that I couldn’t keep that effort up.  The crash was coming, and I started to worry about when it would.  So, I just pedaled harder, figuring that I would use what I had while I had it.  The funny thing was, the harder I worked, the quicker I recovered.  I cleaned a few more rocky sections, mashed up some climbs, and sprinted away on the flat, twisty sections.  I saw no one from my class, but I was passing others that started ahead of me.

Who the hell was I?  Why wasn’t I dying out there?  I was working hard, and feeling better as the day went on.  After finishing that first lap, I felt even better.  I concentrated on building a bigger gap, and trying to be careful as I rode my rigid bike over some of those nasty rocks.  About halfway through the second lap I started to worry.  Did I take a wrong turn?  Am I now in last place?  Why the hell am I feeling so good?

Who gives a shit.  Keep riding.

Up the last big set of climbs (Charlie’s Mountain I think) I was hammering knowing that I was almost done.  That leads to the Mega Jump section, which is like a cross between Warrior Creek and a big ass pump track.  I flew through there, hit the jumps and even doubling a few.  I was on the home stretch, and before I knew it I was at the finish line.  I was confused, so I asked the race officials where I placed.


I was shocked.  Really.  I know I’ve been working a little bit on my fitness, but I didn’t really expect to win or even get on a podium this season.  But I did.

After a day of working hard and getting the shit beat outta me by rocks, I took home a pretty cool rock of my own.

And I won a Maxxis Ikon.  Rad.

This was my third race there.  The first two back in 2011 and 2012, I got third place (and smaller rocks.) It’s been a while since I’ve been on a podium, and honestly this one felt pretty damn good.  I worked hard, rode smart, and walked away feeling pretty good.  What a way to start the season.

I dunno.  Maybe it’s a fluke.  I got lucky.  Whatever.

Who gives shit.

I had a blast out there. The race organizers did a great job, the course was fun, and the people were pretty cool. It’s good to be back. I know it's not always gonna be this good, so I'm enjoying it while I can.

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