I just entered and exited my first race. Man and bike vs. other men and their bikes. More than that, it is mind vs. body, and preparation vs. sheer determination. It was a new experience and one that has changed the way I view mountain biking.
The race wasn’t about winning, it wasn’t about placing but instead a cap to a yearlong set of goals. The cherry at the top of an ambitious ice cream Sunday. I can still remember the day I etched the goals on my white board, thick dry erase marker in hand and my tongue hanging from my mouth.
- Ride 3-4 times per week.
- Lose 15 pounds
- Enter a Mountain Bike Race
The goals are relatively vague, but I held myself accountable and primarily focused on the first one. Not that it is hard to will yourself onto the hill to ride, but it can be difficult to set aside other priorities in life to make sure you don’t miss those valuable rides. It was a fight, and to be honest there were some weeks of five rides, and others of two, but I made sure to keep to the plan.
Luckily for me I was able to track down a Super-D race a few hours from home and I signed up. My pre-race weigh in reported a weight loss of 20 pounds and I ascertained a tremendous value in my riding.
The Race: I showed up an hour early, by myself. It was 7:00AM and the camp grounds were still groggy. A few other vehicles moseyed in behind me. I got out of my truck an outsider, my first event, my first interaction with these riders. I pulled my bike from its metal holster and pushed off towards the port-o-potty. Unsure of what preparation would be needed for a Super-D race I geared up and did a few dirt road laps. I can’t say that I have ever warmed up to ride a bike before so, I improvised, pedaling back and forth until the speakers blared and check-in began.
From there, we were shuttled up the hill in U-Hauls and Vans. Yes, U-Hauls, in the back, it was dusty and we were almost flung out the open door.
The track wasn’t what I expected as it had a tough elongated uphill sprint to the finish, well that is an understatement. My first race was the single most physically demanding event of my life. I say this, with many sports experiences including Hell Week of conditioning for football and collegiate baseball training. The adrenaline and push to the finish line was unlike anything I have ever felt.