Saturday, April 07, 2012

Eye on the prize: staying up right.

I knew better.

Biking, mountain or road, is similar to life - you look where you want to go. Not where you don't want to go.

One minute I was looking at the soft shoulder with deep sandy gravel, seeing someones bike tire lines run through them, next thing I know I'm off in the ditch, nearly endo-ing over my hoods. DOH!

Yep, you read that right. I took myself out today. Going up hill, slowly. In a ditch. And I was all by myself. Or, I should say no one was around me. A couple people saw it though.

Let me give this a little more context: today was the Boulder Roubaix. 56.1 miles, on 57% packed dirt roads, 43% pavement. Three laps on a course with tons of variety, making it fun and unpredictable. And bumpy. SUPER BUMPY. But I was ready. I borrowed Benjamin's Gator Skins (said with a redneck accent). 25cc - a nearly bomb proof weapon against pinch flatting reality. Yee haw!

The usual suspects showed up: a handful of pros, dozens of tough cookies and the rest of us. The pace at first was dreadfully slow, until we got about 4 miles out from the start/finish line on the first lap. Then the pace ramped up. Alison Powers threw a grenade down - attacking a minute after the feed zone and no one could react fast enough. Yours truly had a mouth full of honey stinger. CRAP! Hey, wait for me!!!

Chase, chase, chase. Uh oh, the rubber band snapped, hard. The ponies were galloping away from me. I put my head down, focused on catching them and I came within 100m. Then the rubber band recoiled. I suffered in no man's land for the next lap, completely alone. I could see a girl, just a little bit in front of me and focused on catching her. But try as I may, I couldn't close the gap. Who is this girl?!? And where did she gain this superpower?

I love my bike. I hate my bike. I love this race. I hate this race. You can't quit! Just quit! There are people behind you. Keep pushing. Those potholes! My back! Must. Keep. Going.... you paid money to do this - sucker!!!

And that's when it happened. A girl caught up to me from behind and we worked together for a few miles. I was staying close to her wheel, and that's when I noticed how much her bike shifted from side to side with every third pedal stroke. I lost my concentration, for a second. And when I regained it,  I saw the tracks through the dirt. Next thing I know I'm pedaling through ankle deep gravel. And another pony galloped away.

I pull my steed out of the gravel pit and notice two girls chasing and witness to the whole thing. All I can do is laugh at this point. I'm delirious from spending the last lap solo, and embarrassed at my jackassery. They laugh with me though, and not at me and we start working together. Next thing I know we're catching those dangling ponies and lassoing them into our group. Bike racing is so much more fun when you have company! We take turns at the front, being kind and steady to one another, giving my legs ample time to rest up for the final sprint. Not that it mattered - at that point we were trotting in for maybe top 20? But a sprint is a sprint - and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to make the most out of my ditch riding and come in last. I paid my dues to the gravel and dirt gods today.

All in all, a good day of racing. Humbled by the competition, the course and most importantly, the dirt. And I think I finally understand looking where I want to go, not where I don't want to go.That should come in handy in the future...

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