What day is it? Race day!
This weekend marked the beginning of the Southern Classic MTB race series. I was there in person. I was there in spirit. My legs however were somewhere far away. If you happen to see them, please pick them up and drop them off at my apartment. I'll need them at some point in the near future.
The first lap of the Assault on Anglers Ridge was bound to be quite interesting as it was the first time I had seen the course. I arrived in plenty of time for an exploratory lap before my race but opted instead to stand around the parking lot talking to my spandex clad brethren. I was lonely. They were friendly. It worked.
For most of the first lap I maintained a comfortable mid-pack position. The course itself was fast and flowy with just three punchy climbs. It was on one of these climbs that I made my first mistake. I saw many riders walking next to their bikes with defeated looks on their faces. Most of them were on geared bikes so I naturally assumed they were simply inferior climbers. I decided to jump out of the saddle and grind up the hill as fast as possible. I made it. People cheered. I should have known that was a bad sign. As I forged on through the other two hills I started to get into a good rhythm and build up some speed. Mistake number two came when I slammed my right hand into a tree. This is becoming a habit and my right pinky finger is suffering as a result. At the time it seemed quite insignificant as it didn't really hurt. It was only later when I realized my glove was wet that I knew I had done a little damage. I was fairly certain my hand should not be leaking any sort of fluid so I took a moment to investigate.
I'm prepared to try this glove on in a court of law to show that it is not mine.
One bloody glove is never all that bad. I pressed on and continued to build up speed as I completed my first lap and moved through the start/finish area. I was really starting to feel quite good on the second lap and thought I may even be able to catch the rider ahead of me. When I returned to the steep ascent I attacked on the first lap I once again attempted to ride it while others walked and looked on in amazement. Ever see Return to Snowy River? That's right ladies and gentlemen who secretly enjoy girly movies, you know what I'm talking about. It did not go so well on my second attempt. With only a few feet to go my legs gave out and I completed the walk of shame to the top. I was still feeling confident in my ability to move up to fourth place but that feeling didn't last long.
With about six miles left in the race both of my legs cramped at the same time. That was unpleasant. I fell down. Riders passed me. Children gasped and ran into the arms of their parents. The elderly wept. For nearly four minutes I sat on the side of the trail watching one rider after another fly past while I attempted to move my legs. When I finally got back on my bike I had lost my position and had very little hope of regaining it. I slowly started picking my way through the riders ahead of me but it took another three miles for me to fully get my kick back. I let it all hang out for the last section of the course but never regained my position. If only the race had been ten hours longer. That would have been so much better.
When I returned to my car I snapped a quick picture of my least favorite finger. I've decided that it is meant to be purple and swollen at all times. It makes me look tough. Like a guy who got in a bar fight but doesn't know how to make a proper fist. Yeah, that kind of tough.
Next week I head to Winston-Salem for round two. At this point I have a well formulated plan for redemption that I am certainly not going to follow. I would much rather wing it and blame any shortcomings on the current economic climate. If all goes well I'll finish somewhere in the middle of the pack with a smile on my face and some more blood on my glove. My theory is simple. If I don't run into any trees then I am just not riding hard enough. In my defense, the tree had it coming.