I’ve been on a journey, much longer than the few months since my awakening – when I decided I would ride bikes again. I’ve ridden more these past few months than I have the last three years combined. This has been good for me beyond my expectations. Once I got through the initial sore neck, leg and butt phase, I rediscovered that I love riding bicycles. And instead of having to or needing to ride, I want to go ride. And as usual, with bike riders, the idea of racing emerges. With the annual visit of the Florida State Championship Series looming, I had to work to get myself in check. Telling myself just keep your fun riding and race if want to give it a try. I allowed myself this to avoid training.
So…. I found myself doing yard work the Saturday before the race knowing to my core I shouldn’t race, but… the little devil perched on my shoulder. “Race dude. You’ll kill it. You’ll miss it if you don’t go. You been riding. You’re a bad ass.” Hungover the next morning (from a heavy load of Resin). I had to hunker down to answer big worm’s call to arms for the bikechain crew to attend.
And of course I drove out to the race and made it in time for the yellow wave start. Start line heckling and shout outs ensued. Followed by a slight chuckle to myself that I should have been in this wave. Then I posted up between the BMX and RC tracks to join in more heckling, time split announcements and beer hand-ups.
With the mid-September temperature rising (re still summer), my anxiety shown through like a race horse in a starting gate. I kept in check and quietly registered, kitted up and did a reasonable warm up. Pulling onto the starting line late I was surprised to get the inside line. Less surprised at being on the receiving end of the heckling. Tongue and cheek blasted Higher Ground’s Marcus as a sandbagger… and braced myself for the air horn.
I stomped on the pedals easily surging past the group of 15 Clydesdales. I eased up on getting the hole shot because 1. I didn’t want to crash, 2. I didn’t know where I was physically and 3. I didn’t want to crash. So I settled into a top 10 spot down the start thinking I’d pick these big boys off one by one on the impending double track climb.
Boy was I ever wrong. By the time we had reached the top of the climb and were headed back down. I’d already caught and passed people, been passed back and was struggling mightily behind this dude who had no singletrack skills whatsoever.
And the rest of the race is history. I learned that riding ain’t the same as racing. I also learned that you can get your ass beat but still feel OK. What I mean is I’m not OK with losing a race or spot to anybody. But I am OK with the poor showing when I was able to “pedal” the entire race – something I haven’t done in a long time. And with that… no Cinderella stories… just a DFL number plate.