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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Racing: What It's All About

The Big Bear Lake Classic XC Race, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia is coming up in less than two weeks, and I'm looking forward to it. I heard the trails down there are great. Got my new bike, been training all winter and hoping to finish better than I did at the end of last season but none the less I'm giving it a go.

Now I never thought I'd ever finish last in a mountain bike race. This was years ago but my first race ever I kicked ass. I entered the first timers category in the Buffalo Creek Race in Colorado. Placed 5th out of 100 beating the crap out of a ton of sand baggers; this only a few weeks after my first time on a a mountain bike. I followed this up with a my very successful race season 'one of the top novice class riders in the area.' Ha ha ha, my big mountain bike claim to fame, woo hoo, local rookie of the year with two 5ths, a 2nd at Seven Springs, a first at the Raccoon Township race, and a myriad of DNF break downs.

So several years of dormancy and spending most of my work and leisure time behind this keyboard, I'm in such sorry shape. Me poor aching body too weak to support me bones. A race schedule was exactly what I needed to keep me riding and get my awful pitiful self back into some kind of shapeliness.

So only ten weeks after my feet clicked back into peddels I was at the starting line of the first month of mud series race in Mammoth, PA. I'm obviously at a cyclo-cross with race with a mountain bike, here with the wrong equipment but why not, what the hell, a lot of other month of mudders out here with their mountain bikes.

Now my retro Raleigh John Tomac had been pretty good to me all summer but this would be the exact hour, the exact minute that my middle chain ring teeth decided they didn't have enough metal to hold against the chain torque. Repeatedly they let go of the chain and leaving my knees to slam into the stem. Ow, ouch, ... ow! Quit the race?!?! Really now, I had a perfectly good granny gear and a big ring. It was clumsy trying to switch between them, and the course went up and down constantly, and the derailer just didn't want to kick all the way over leaving me climb in too big of a gear or just stall out, but I gave it hell anyway. Now I've never been in last place or anywhere near it, and now not for a minute was it my bikes fault. My bike had nothing to do with the sorry sappy rider in sorry sappy shape sitting on top of it. I own up to my sport class last place and I gracefully accept it.

It was just good to be back in the saddle, pushing myself as hard as I could go. I love the adrenaline; I love the rush; I love training for races. I've always ridden to race. Every ride pushing myself physically, pushing my skills, searching my limits and crashing a lot. It's my incentive to go out and give it hell every single ride that I do.

Shift ahead four weeks later and I am riding the legendary rock gardens at Moraine State Park in the last Month of Mud race. Doing better but I'm still among the back of the pack. I have total respect for every rider that gets out there and gives it a go. I see these guys back there and I know they are not the most technical riders to grace this trail and the course is brutal; but they are there giving it hell anyway, smashing down on rocks, slugging it out all the way, not giving in. These people earn my respect, every one of them.

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