Sunday, November 2, 2008
Today I woke up early and started to get ready to race. Earlier this week I decided it was time to do my first cyclocross race. I saw one a few weeks ago and caught the bug.
I was able to round up a really sweet mountain bike and some shoes and was set. I left the house a bit early to ride over to campus and try the bike out. I hadn't ridden on dirt since I was in middle school. It took all of two minutes for me to start planning my next two-wheeled investment. I head over to a friend's house and we head for Candlestick Park.
We show up, okay my past tenses are getting messy so please excuse any changes in narrative. Anyways, we get there and there are lots of bikes and lots of people in costumes. I assume all the costumed ones are racers since costumes are often worn at cyclocross events. I'm wrong. Apparently there's a rave going on that began at 4 AM near the park where the race is. Unfortunately the party isn't close enough for us to hear the techno.
I check out the course and Oliver and I do a warmup lap. The course is awesome and I'm excited to get started. The race is five hours away though so I decide to head over to the rave. I ride through and it has the makings of a pretty typical rave-only it's daylight out and in a park! I'm wearing my spandex bike gear so I get lots of cheers. I head back over to the race area and get settled...
One o'clock rolls around and I'm back on the bike getting warmed up. I do some good warmup laps and then roll over to the start. I stay near the back so, well I say it's because I don't want to get trampled. The truth is I don't want to try and hang with the guys up front.
Everyone takes off but quickly slows down going into the first turn. The first lap is pretty congested because it was a field of 85. There are a ton of big hills and I'm able to occasionally move up a spot or two since the mountain bike gives me an advantage on them. These gains are quickly erased by my poor dismounts but that's another story.
Things are starting to settle a bit, the pack has spread out. I start to wonder how much longer we have, mostly because it's hurting. These guys are fast. I'm able to stay up though and though the straightaway.
Some other lap.
Okay this hurts. Legs are aching from the hills and my hands are getting a bit worn from the vibrations. I'm hanging in the back half but definitely getting tired. I'm no longer flying up the hills like I was earlier. After one of my efforts I go into an easy turn but I'm so worn that I eat it. Right into the dirt. I'm officially a cross racer. I get up quick to make sure no one crashes into me. Fortunately no one is behind me. Unfortunately that means I'm either in the lead and I just blew some of it-unlikely-or it's because I'm way back.
Three laps to go.
I get back to going; no lasting effects from the crash. I've managed to also bang my arm pretty badly on one of the dismounts. The "3" sign couldn't have come at a better time. I get a burst of energy knowing I'll be done soon. Around this point I'm probably a few minutes off the leaders. I pass two of the many recreational photographers scattering the course, who, by the way, will take pictures of anything on two wheels. I put on my best smile but they're too busy cleaning their lenses. Tough crowd.
Two laps to go.
I'm pretty dead by now. I have to carry my bike up some of the hills. I try and surge a bit but want to save some for the last lap.
Alright here goes. I'm still riding hard although things are getting sloppy. I'm dying. This is it. I'm passed on the last straightaway and crank harder. He's too fast, and then it's over. I catch up to him after the finish line. "Nice race mountain biker!" That's all the recognition I need.