so i drove down to the local haunt of a cross course on thursday evening to check out the new short track series in town. a five week, thursday night gig. i wore my kit under my clothes. just in case i felt like doing my first ever mountain bike race.
cause this race series in particular was being touted as a great way for a beginner to try out a mountain bike race for those of us who had never done one or were too intimidated to try. and i fell into that category. and since i’ve been on a mountain bike all of about 4 times and one of those times i was doing more hiking with my bike than actually riding it, i just saw it all as something to do for fun and figured it would be good ‘cross practice. mostly, i didn’t care and thought it all would just be a cake walk in the park.
so i wore my kit in case i wanted to do a cake walk in the park.
i stood around for a long time watching everyone do some warm up laps. i thought warmup shwarm up. i dont need no stinkin’ warm up. its just for silly fun. full disclosure though - i did ride one quick lap. it required dismounts and a hippity hop of a leap over a muddy creek.
i didn’t decide to race until about 2 minutes before the women went off. all two of us. i sized up the situation and the competition on the line and thought smugly; i got this.
but when race girl blows her mega-phone of a horn and my competition takes off, and i mean off. i think, uh-oh. and then its’ not long, maybe two more turns before i can’t even see her anymore. shit. are you kidding me? now i’m in trouble. add on the two ten year old girls breathing down my neck to pass me and it wasn’t long before i was potentially in a world of shame. now this race that was just supposed to be for fun and something i didn’t care about was something i cared about enough to start blocking the ten year olds from passing me. enough to make such a ruckus going over the logs that cute little ten year olds would be too scared to pass the crazy girl. does this make me a bad person?
it’s a lot of pressure to be in a race with just two people. you just don’t want to come in second. nor do you want the 10 year olds to pass you.
well. i never did let those 10 year olds pass me and i got away from them, pride intact. but this was no cake walk of a race. it was surprisingly hard and technical. according to some more seasoned mountain bike racers, it was not technically a short track race – in which case we would have been able to roll over everything. evidently, it was too technical.
but since i don’t know jack about what a short track race is supposed to be, i was blissfully ignorant and happily dismounted for all kinds of shit even when i was being heckled by the race girl with the mega phone for dismounting.
the ten year olds remained behind me where they belong, but there was still the matter of the woman in front of me and i could hear my teammates screaming you gotta go harder! so towards the end of the first lap, coming out of the crazy thicket of thickety stuff, the course opened up enough that i figured that’s where i could go harder & with a polite little on your right, i passed her. and, assuming i was in the clear and would not be coming in second in this two woman race, i breathed a (premature) sigh of relief.
cause then she just sat there right behind me for the entire second lap. the woman could not be shaken, and all i could think was shit. she is not going to hand me a win on a silver platter. this wasn’t gonna be like winning a raffle. i am going to have to work for it.
so. at the end of the second lap, in that big open spot after the thickety thicket; i put the proverbial hammer down once i actually had figured out the right way to gear the bike to do such a thing, and i got away and then stayed away. but still, there was that panic that at any moment she could just come back from the dead and appear at my back wheel.
she never did. and so the icing on the not-quite-the-cake-walk-of-a-race-i-thought-it-would-be was that i won.
the whole thing was a bunch of ‘cross-like fun on a summer day and makes me wonder if i should just go into every race with nary a care in the world.