I missed CCCX Super D #5. They moved the race to last weekend, and I was out of town for hockey.
It’s just a race, right? Sure, except that I set a goal of winning the 8 race series. Because I moved up from Cat 3 to Cat 2, I lost my series points from the first 2 races of the season. Missing race #5 put me neck and neck with a couple other racers in my category, one of whom is exactly my speed.
This made me nervous going into race #6, which made it difficult to sleep the night before. I found myself lying in bed tired but wired. Normally, this happens to me only before early morning championship games. And ski trips when I was 6 years old. I really, really wanted to win this race.
No, really. I wanted to win this race more than all the previous races. How do I know this? Because instead of intending to do two practice runs and doing only one, I actually did two practice runs. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable and familiar with every part of the course.
This course featured a lot of singletrack. It wasn’t particularly rough, jumpy, or technical, but there were a few things to keep in mind: the not blowing first turn, not running into the tree after the first turn, not hitting any of the free roaming cows, and not running myself off one of the fast off-camber sections of the trail.
I managed to do (or properly not do) all of those things, but I did run myself off the trail at the tree after the tree after the first turn. I looked at the tree, thought, “Don’t hit it. Nudge right,” kept looking at it, and found myself running off the trail heading straight for the tree. NOOOOO!!! Fortunately I was able to muscle my way back onto the trail without completely stopping or unclipping. It was still early in the run, and that mistake motivated me to pedal as hard as I could to try to make up for lost time. This kept me going hard for the first half of the course.
The second half of the course was some fun twisty singletrack in the canyon. There happened to be a parallel trail on the other side of the ravine, and some guy on a bike pacing me. I have no idea who he was, but every time I stopped pedaling he would yell, “PEDALLLLL!!!” Oh, right! Pedal! And I would. Then I’d take a turn and forget, and he’d yell again, “PEDALLLLL!!!” Mystery parallel trail in the canyon man, THANK YOU. I want to miniaturize you and put you on my shoulder.
There was a short but painful fireroad climb toward the end of the run. I was gassed by then, but a very loud cheering section had formed, and I couldn’t bring myself to disappoint them. So I pushed through it, pedaled and mashed. THANK YOU, whoever you all were, for the motivation and encouragement.
I ended up winning my category by 1.5 seconds. I owe those 1.5 seconds to every single person who took the time to yell and cheer on the course. Aaron likes to tell me that I should be motivated to pin it every second of every race. I’m working on it, but until I get there I am tremendously grateful to all those trailside voices. Heck, even after I get there I will be grateful.
Speaking of which, I’m grateful for another set of great race photos from Rick. Here are a couple frames he caught of me. On the left is when I spotted him hiking uphill during my practice run. I gave him a big smile and hello. On the right is the drop-in on my race run. I’ve been working hard on getting into a more aggressive stance since looking at pictures of myself from race #4. Does it make a difference? I hope so! At the very least, it makes it look like I really really mean to go wherever it is I think I’m going.
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Update: 2012-03-06 @ 2:41 PM
Results were finally posted last night. A new rider showed up in Cat 3 and finished with a faster time than mine. It has no impact on my standing in Cat 2, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with it. Gotta get faster. I want to WIN ALL THE THINGS!