Sunday, January 18, 2009

Random little story about racing

I wrote this on a forum thread about the hardest things people had done on their bikes.  After doing 100 miles yesterday, it's still true.
First cyclocross race, about eight years ago. I was going to college in Santa Cruz, riding my mountain bike, which was my only transportation at the time, a lot, and decided I wanted to race it. Since it was Fall, it was too late for mountain bike racing, but cyclocross is off-road too. Sort of. How different can it be?

I talked my dad into driving down to give me a ride to it and be there to be supportive if I collapsed into a heap at the end. So I'm lined up at the start, on my little red Schwinn Mesa with a rear rack, and they say that the race is probably going to run three laps. OK, I figure, I'll stay at a sustainable pace on the first two and then really drop the hammer on the last one. I did all that, but when I finished the third lap, they were ringing the bell. In cyclocross, that means one more lap to go.

Uh-oh.

That lap has to be about the hardest thing I have ever done on a bicycle. And I've done some difficult and/or stupid things on bikes.

I'd actually been passing people for the first three laps. But I wasn't into the variable lap count thing at that time, the heart of a champion didn't beat in my chest, and more than anything else that stupid bell killed me. I kept going, but I was definitely in my "bonk" zone for the whole lap. I didn't manage to hoist my bike on the run-up and ended up pushing it in front of me, my Shimano casual MTB shoes slipping on every step. I managed to straddle the bike and get to the barriers, and then somehow dismount, get over them, remount, and wobble my way to the finish line.

For some reason, I did another the two the next year and when I finally got to a place in my life (last year) I did a whole season. I haven't done a MTB race yet, but CX races are definitely the hardest things I do on a bike so far.

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