That explains why I did it, but why was I so nervous? I had no illusions of podium-ing, so there was no pressure in that respect, and I'm very familiar with the trails. It all boils down to lack of confidence on the bike. I've progressed to where casual rides with friends only induce mild panic, but mountain bike trails in a race situation still bring on full-blown nausea (one of the perks of our slow start at LBL was the lack of bikes passing us on singletrack).
Despite the race day jitters, I had a great time visiting before the start. Lots of tri club friends were out, as were my friend Susan and a couple of cousins. I also got to meet up with Tori from A Journey to a New Me, who did a great job on her first (I think?) trail race!
|With Tori before the race|
Luckily, Chuck was running with his son Jacob. Since we were all moving at about the same pace, instead of concentrating on how I was about to keel over on the sidewalk I got to hear about Chuck, Robin, and Lori's recent trip to adventure camp and talk all about LBL (my new favorite subject). The conversation carried me onto the trails, and by the time Jacob needed to dial the pace back a little bit I was feeling much better.
|Photo credit: Robin Rongey|
My transition was just under 2 minutes, and then we were off down the paved bike path to the singletrack. Luckily Susan had pre-ridden the course and warned me about taking the left turn onto the trails plenty wide and making sure to gear down for the uphill right after the turn. I gave the two girls near me a heads-up about the spot, but both of them ended up putting a foot down coming around the turn and I was able to scoot by them and make it up the hill.
Any ride on singletrack is always affected by my fear of speed and lousy bike handling, but I felt fairly brave during the first part. I'd say I rode the trails faster than I ever have before...that's just not saying much. My cousin Bob was right behind me for awhile, but he passed me when I took a turn badly (too slowly) and crashed. After making sure I was ok he flew by and I never saw him again until the finish.
For a long time one of the girls from that first turn onto the trails was right on my tail. I'd offered to let her by, but she wanted to stay where she was. We were passed by lots and lots of guys, though (there had been some problems with some of the trail markings being taken down, so these guys had run further than we had...it's not that we were that much faster on the run), and eventually when I dismounted to go over a bigger log, she went ahead and passed me, also never to be seen again.
|Photo credit: Jeff Schleicher|
Clearly not the face of a confident rider.
Being passed so many times was really frustrating. Not being passed so much as the fact that I'd be passed and then the other riders were just gone. I spent the second half of the ride mentally composing whiny facebook posts about how I was never going to get faster on the bike. (And what's weird is that, while I run way more than I get to mountain bike, being slower on the run doesn't bother me nearly as much as being slow on the bike.) Waah, waah. On the plus side, I got through the trails faster than I have in the past, rode all the switchbacks, only walked one obstacle, and only fell once, so I guess it was a pretty successful day.
As I turned back onto the paved trail for the sprint back to the finish line, my friend Jim rode up and provided me with my own personal escort/tow service to the end. Big thanks to him for helping me finish strong! :) After the race, I hung around talking for a while, comparing notes about how everyone's race went, and whining about being so slow. I need to mention especially that my cousin Bob, who runs and rides far less than me, beat me by 5 minutes, and I'm sorry to report that my nemesis once again has the upper hand, not only beating me by 2 minutes but also apparently running a mile more than I did (he's still older and bigger as well, I'm sure he wants me to admit that, but at least I can update my blog regularly).
Anyway, my pity party was interrupted by the awards, and after clapping for several of my victorious friends I was thrilled (and shocked) to hear my name called for 2nd place in my age group.
|Holding the awesome TnT glass that Chuck, Lori, Robin, Patrick, and I etched after our Cuivre River Run. Clearly this isn't my handiwork because it's not splotchy.|
(By the way, if you haven't read the latest installment of the LBL Challenge saga--I'm up to part 4--you might check it out.)