Last Saturday was not only the first day of the month, but it was also my first race of the season! The first race of the year always brings all kinds of nervousness and excitement. I have been training for months, but is it enough? I know that I am getting stronger and faster, people have told me and I have seen the results myself, but what about everybody else? When that whistle blows will all my hard work and effort fade away onto the second page of results? All of these worries and doubts were figured out over 20 miles of rolling singletrack, and what I figured out is what I am writing about today.
|With some teammates at the start. I’m #118.|
I went into this race with a certain confidence that I have felt very often. Of course I was nervous, I always am a little bit nervous, but even when I was lined up with the 20 other riders in my category there was a voice in my head saying “You’ve got this”. I felt great off of the start and immediately found a rhythm. But this rhythm was quickly halted when the rider in front of me slid out on a corner. I managed to not go down, but had to dismount. Next thing I know I am running, hoping on my bike, and trying to shift back into the right gear. Lesson number one: focus and rhythm are crucial. After the crash, for the next half a lap, I could not get my mind back in the race. Thinking is dangerous. Thinking costs you precious time. In a race, you must be completely focused on the race and nothing else.
During the race I made an observation about my speed. I was going at a faster than average pace, but at times it didn’t feel like that much work. This is the beauty of the mind. On a normal day, you don’t have any motivation to ride for an hour and a half as hard as you can. But during a race your legs and lungs somehow work together as a machine. You get into this mindset that only works during a race. It’s crazy and I am still trying to figure this one out.
|Sprinting for the finish line.|
I eventually finished the race in sixth place, less than a minute from top 5. You can read my full play by play report on my personal blog. The biggest lesson that I took away from this race was that I love racing! Everyone dreams of being the best, but there is so much pressure on that person. The fun in racing and riding is the challenge of trying to be the best. This challenge is what sets me out on my bike hours upon hours every week. When it is not the challenge of a race it is trying to make it up a climb, or trying to get down the mountain a few seconds faster. This race reminded me of the reasons I love to ride and race, and I can’t be more excited for the times to come.