Hey people. Last night was the second "real race" in my illustrious career as a mountain bike racer, and I was NOT made of win, or awesome. I didn't even have much of a delicious nougat center I'm afraid. I have to admit, earlier in the week I'd been feeling like rather big stuff, riding pretty well, even in kind of damp conditions one day that left my legs impressively splattered.
*Note* This only qualifies as impressive to non-riders. In truth you don't ride when it's really muddy because it wrecks the trail, this was mostly from going through a big puddle or two that were unavoidable. But it made me feel all bad-ass. Heh heh.
I'd been practicing riding a longer route, including this part that goes up a GIANT hill that isn't normally part of the trail. I'd been feeling good about my increased control-- how I seem to have moved beyond either screaming down hills feeling like luck was the only thing saving me, or skidding around out of control, or riding old-lady slow, terrified. Now I seem to have better balance, able to "drive" at speeds I select, no longer so much at the mercy of the terrain.
Unfortunately, being able to go slower and be in control doesn't help you much when racing. You're supposed to go fast! First the course was changed, something that is normally done to mix things up I guess, to a longer ride again, even than that I'd been practicing, so it was really tough for me. And as soon as I began I could tell it wasn't going to be a good ride for me.
The sections I usually really enjoy, that feel fast and swoopy, I was riding jerkily, not on my usual lines, ramming straight into rocks and roots I normally avoid no problem. It was a little more slippery than I'm used to because of some heavy rain the day before, and I went down (not spectacularly, but still, unnerving and time consuming) about 4 or 5 times, in areas I never have before. I kept telling myself to mellow out, tried to slow down my breathing etc, but I was trapped, it seemed, in suckville.
I'd set some standards for myself-- don't quit, crash, puke, or get lapped. In the end all I was left with was quit and puke, and only that by a slim margin. The whole first half of the race something was going wonky with my guts. My stomach killed! I was seriously concerned I may have some kind of cataclysmic gastro-intestinal *event* right there on Penny. Then I'd have to just shamble off and live in the woods, sometimes spotted from time to time in my filthy rags, the local, legendary "bigfoot/poo'd pants woman of elk River.
I wasn't dead last, although I have no idea why. My success seems to hinge entirely on a few people, inexplicably, even worse than me showing up. (God bless 'em.)
In the end this wasn't a very fun race for me, but I think it was still good for me. I didn't quit, or puke, and I was out there. I talked to some people, other racers, more than I usually get a chance to, feel like I'm getting to know a few more of the clan, even if kind of from outside the inner circle.
I don't know what was up with my guts. I was up half the night too. I think I'm just spazzing-out about my show this Sat. So much to do!! Oh well. I came, I rode, and I drove myself home-- no ambulance! No having to become bigfoot! And I didn't quit! Or barf! Woo me!