Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Can't Believe I Did It

Well, for the first time since I was in elementary school (and even those details are subject to debate), yours truly has entered and competed in an organized sport competition! In this case, an official mountain bike race.

Knowing how I've spent the majority of my life avoiding any kind of physical labor or effort, this will come as quite a shock to many of you. However, I can assure you, my participation was very real.

I competed in a local race series called "Wednesday's at Wakefield". It's a singletrack race through the very same trails you saw in the videos I sent around last week. The race is sponsored by the Washington, DC Potomac Velo Club and numerous other businesses in the area. There were several hundred people who competed, in several different categories. Since I've only been doing this for less than 3 months, I threw my hat in with the men's beginner category. That ended up being the largest class of racers! And while some were truly sucky, many were very, very good. In fact, I've since learned that many "expert" level riders compete with the beginners so that they can win medals. Posers.

Anyway, I got to the trails at 5pm after leaving work early. I was amazed at how many people I saw! My original intent was to watch and learn... but in the excitement, I found myself in line with the registrants, and before I could think or argue I was handing someone $20 and signing a waiver. Next thing I knew, I was strapping a number card to my bike. I was actually doing it!

The real butterflies came when I was down on the start line with what seemed like a hundred other bikers, getting ready to take off en masse like a crazy Tour de France send-off. And that's how it was. For the first minute after the shot, it was dog eats dog. There were wrecks, there was jockeying, there were swear words. But eventually, we reached the portion of the trail where everyone needed to file into single line... and then we really got going.

I was doing really well (for starting in the middle of the pack), when about halfway through the first lap of trails, I hit some mud while going about 15mph. That was enough to send my front wheel spinning sideways, and send me clear over the handlebars. I landed, hard, on my right arm and thigh. I saw some blood, but not enough to be concerned about... so I kept going! I pushed myself more than usual, and started getting cramps in strange places, but I was moving. I was racing!

By the end of the second lap (9 miles), I was ready to fall over dead. At this point, I was covered in mud (not from my fall, but from going through muddy streams and gunk from the previous day's rain), was exhausted, and had a mouth as dry as an Iraqi desert. Even though I was wearing my waterpack, it was hard for me to get to the tube while I was busy balancing and pedaling over roots, rocks and mud. So, I didn't drink as much as I should have. But still, I finished!

The organizer's computer was broken, so we didn't get the complete standings (they should be posted later today), but they listed the top 4 finishers in each category. I wasn't one of them, nor did I expect to be. But I was pretty dang proud of myself! No one had taught me how to ride, and no one was there to cheer me on (hey my wife was at a contest of her own). I did it all on my own, and didn't come in last. And I have to admit, it felt pretty dang good!

Now... lavish your praise on me!!! But seriously, today I feel like I've been hit by a truck and tossed down a staircase! So, I could use some love!

Oh, you can find pictures HERE and HERE. The action shot above is a horrible bloated picture of me on the red Specialized...


About Me: said...

Dude, that's totally awsome. Seriously. I can't believe you RACED! I'm cracking up over here just thinking about you careening over handlebars.

Congratulations on completing your first race. Now I'm totally intimidated about riding any trails with you. You'll probably have to drag me out of the woods with an oxygen tank!

gwadzilla said...

good job out there...

the course if fun
but it can be tough to pass
as it is so tight and twisty
it is often quite agro out there

and the people who race in a class beneith their level...
they are called SANDBAGGERS


no glory in cheating

becky said...

my favorite part:

"For the first minute after the shot, it was dog eats dog. There were wrecks, there was jockeying, there were swear words."

And I'm sure YOU weren't doing any of those things!

Congratulations. I wish you many more crashes. Wait, did I say crashes? I totally meant wrecks. No wait, I mean burnouts.

Ok, fine. I really meant FABULOUS, vulgarity-peppered races. :)

G-O D-A-N!

Dan said...

The Sandbaggers. Yes, they were there alright. Other than that, I enjoyed the dynamic when riding with a lot of people because it pushes you to go harder than you ordinarily would.

I've ridden that course dozens upon dozens of times, and when you give it that extra 10-15%, it's like a different course.