Still working on the looking good naked part.
With the holiday weather being what it was(cold and lousy) We got all our BBQing out of the way earlier in the weekend. Leaving Monday open for some quality "me" time. Last night as I weighed my options, I decided to race in the Stan Crane Memorial XC Race.
The dozen or so Bratwurst I ate over the past two days was not helping at all in the diet department either.
Truth be told, I have never really been much of a mountain bike racer. I have entered some races, I have organized a couple, but when it comes down to it, I've never been much of a racer. In fact, this was to be the very first ICUP race I had ever entered, despite people trying to talk me into it for years. My logic has been that if I couldn't win, I didn't want to race. Cyclocross has managed to drag the pride out of me, and the upcoming Crusher has created a need for high intensity riding that lasts longer than an hour. The only people I thought I could drag along were Moody and Cobourn. Since Cobourn is in Texas with the other arrogant bastards, and Moody was bowing out due to weather. I went into this alone and frightened.
The weather was calling for snow above 5500 ft and rain all morning. The trails in Corner Canyon can be delicate, as are the feelings of the locals who ride them. The race was in doubt until 6 am this morning. Once the word went out on Twitter that the race would go on, I threw my gear in a bag and headed for Draper.
The race had the exact feel of a really good Cyclocross race. Cold and nasty. I thought I was all set. I brought a long sleeve jersey and some embrocation(for the non-cyclists this is like Ben-Gay you rub on your legs before a race so you can pretend it's not cold). At least I thought I grabbed some embrocation. What I grabbed in my haste was a tube of chamois cream which is applied to your crotchal region to prevent chafing on long rides. Cold weather plan #1 fail. Oh well, I threw on my long sleeve and headed out for a little warm up lap. I was wearing a hoodie as well on the warm-up and when I came back I pulled it off to discover that my zipper had broken on the long sleeve. Cold weather plan #2 fail.
With the wind blowing and intermittent rain drops I was one of only a few who rolled up to the start with bare arms and legs. Later in the race, I noticed sweaty,soggy people who looked a lot less comfortable than I was. Cold weather pure dumb luck-win.
As I and the other Sport 35-39 racers rolled up to the start I felt a little out-gunned in the bike department. I assumed this meant I was going to get a good shallaking. But when the start was signaled I found myself duking it out for the hole-shot. I sat up heading onto the single track because I thought I should save something for the rest of the race. Through the lower section I stuck to the other guys wheel and by the time we went under the bridge we had a decent gap on the the rest of our category. Other than one guy that passed us both on the switchback section. I was feeling okay, not strong, but okay. I tried not to get too excited that I might podium if I could hang on. I held holeshot-guys wheel for the whole first lap, and pulled ahead of him just before the end of the first lap. heading into the second lap I looked back and he was fading. Yay for me. Soon I was alone. I couldn't see anybody in front of me, and I couldn't see anybody behind me. Good racers take this opportunity to hammer and try to gap those who might be behind them. I tend to sit up. My legs were starting to fade, and of the racers I saw occasionally most of them were not in my category. On the last big climb, I heard someone call out to pass. I let him by and recognized that he was another guy from my category. No excuses, I didn't have the legs to catch him. I was still thinking I was in third place, and fighting cramps over the last mile or so, I crossed the line.
When the results started to go up on the board, I saw that I had indeed finished in third.
I called Kellie to brag, I told at least a dozen people, I asked Jake Weber to take my picture on the podium, then I walked over to the awards presentation and checked the board again. Another name had been tacked onto the top of my category which bumped me off the podium and into fourth. In itself, still a decent result, but the apparent shame of fourth position is reinforced by the pink ribbon you receive, and the "Tweety" chair that you sit in next to the podium for photos. A child sized camp chair with a big picture of Tweety Bird.
How is it that fourth is more shameful than the dude that took fifth? And why are either one of us called up for the podium?
I did better than I thought I would. I ran full tilt for two hours and twenty miles. Maintaining a 170+ heart rate for most of that time. The course was very much like Cyclocross. No real rest and required a lot of body english to get through the mud and the muck.
Maybe the Crusher will be a little mellower. Please God, let the Crusher be a little mellower. If I can just settle into a groove, I think I will survive.