As far as I could tell, everything was lined up well for the first race, I had even filled my water bottles up the night before leaving (I get a fresh bottle every lap). I know that I got to bed late, and I woke up about four times the night before thinking “TODAY’S THE DAY.” and realized it would be 2am or something and I just had to pee. Morning came and I fueled myself with my favourite pre race meal (a giant bowl of oatmeal and eggs mixed into a big paste), and I even had my stuff together when Alex and his Dad came to pick me up. This would have to be my day, no excuses, right? My Mom, brother, aunt, cousin, and girlfriend would be there to support me, as well as the Trek Bicycles tents, and Barry who brought me a few things from the store. I was resolute to try my best, and most importantly not to be disappointed with myself. I’m new to the Elite racing game anyways so this race is a learning experience!
|The elite men's startline, photo stolen from my buddy James|
Once the race started, I took my spot where I thought that I belonged; dead last. We proceeded to climb straight up the hill (a daunting task in a five lap race), and by the top I was second last, riding in a long train of riders. This was the plan; move up if I can, and finish the race – after all, I’m not really a pro.
|Hanging off the back, where I thought I belonged - didn't want to get in the real pro's way!|
While riding at the back of a train of riders I quickly realized something; I was not in control of my own riding, I was riding slower than I would normally, and with much less efficiency. Obviously it would be advantageous to not be the “caboose”. Throughout the first lap I made my passes here and there, and was ecstatic to pass any elite rider. By the end of the first lap, getting ready to head up the big hill at the start of every lap I was happy with my position, but could see a big group of riders further up with some notably fast boys in it, how was I still so close to them?
|I always wanted an excuse to wear my mom's pink Trek cycling hat from the 70s, unfortunately|
I forgot to take it off before the race, and raced looking like a bit of a clown!
(Photo by Carly Wilson)
By the end of that giant uphill I had passed every single guy that I could see on the hill, and a few had dropped off the group. I did get pretty breathless on the way up, but now it was my turn to lead the train, which proved advantageous indeed. Throughout the second lap, I was riding my pace in the singletrack, and hauling through the doubletrack. I learned to control the train of riders behind me, and spit a few “cabooses” off the back too.
|Leading the train, sticking out my tongue or something, and controlling my race.|
(Photo by Carly Wilson)
The only thing that I was unsure of (which became highly evident in the third lap) was that I had clearly not hydrated properly! Every time that I would stand up and bend my knees to absorb the bumps jumping or the terrain beneath me, the tops of my quads would lock up (it felt like a paralyzing foot cramp searing up my quads). Though I finished off the water in my remaining bottles every lap, I could not shake the phenomenon; at one point, the guy riding behind me said
“I’m afraid of cramping..”
To which I replied
“I am cramping!”
“Uhhh. I’m afraid of cramping too”
I figured it would be a pretty bad idea to tell competitors of a weakness like that!
|Quick little action shot, can you see where the trail comes from?|
By midway through the third lap I was a couple turns ahead of the next guys back, and there was nobody in my sights ahead of me. At the pace I was going, I would possibly widen the gap between me and the guys behind, but I thought that as long as they could still see me ahead, they would keep their attack and likely reel me back in.
The turning point of the race was one quick instant! As a tactic to get far out of sight from the guys behind me, went full speed on a downhill with a very tight, loose corner and lost it. I fell pretty hard, and at the bottom of a steep hill too. By the time that I had remounted my bike, I was being passed by the guys behind me. By the time I had myself moving at a respectable pace again, they were far away up the trail. I did not chase. I was in a better position than I thought I would be capable of, and I was sure that I could beat one of the riders at least anyway (which I did); it was not worth risking my race, or taking the risk of another head injury because I got too caught up and started riding poorly. So I dialled back my effort 5-7% and sat in to ride my own race out. I certainly missed having guys to pace with, but catching them back would burn too much of my energy!
|Red is my heart rate (a good indication of my effort) and green shows course profile|
I'm totally happy with my results; 22nd in the race overall, counting the out of province guys. I had a great time, and am totally amped for my second season back on the bike! Thanks to all of the readers of my blog, my friends and family that come out to my races, Barry and Trek, and every single person that cheers me on during races, YOU ARE THE BEST!!
|Getting to the finish line, in no apparent rush, and with a blissful grin on my face|
a good day's work, and job well done!