Having raced for so many years you would think that I would be better prepared for pre-race jitters. However, upon waking I was filled with excitement and those pesky jitters. It feels as if everything you do might affect how your race will be, you start over analyzing the stupidest things, which only adds to the feeling sitting in your stomach.
There was a time when I was away almost every weekend for a race. Life was nothing but leave Friday, and be home late Sunday, and I loved it. As time went on, so did life, and I began to "settle down" as they say. I bought a house, had two dogs, and new responsibilities. The time for the racer life was no longer really there. My training/riding remained the same but I found more pleasure at home on weekends than on the road. Sure I missed certain aspects of being at races, mostly the people,camaraderie, and atmosphere. Not to mention the adrenaline rush that racing gives you. In the years following the numbe of races I attended got smaller and smaller. Last year in 2012 I only did a race or two, this year I'm hoping for a few more.
Today is race day, and I'm back in race mode. I know how hard my winter training was and my spring training has only helped to make me faster and stronger. I leave my house knowing I'm ready, and so is my equipment.
I pull into the Bear Creek parking lot and just like every racer does you assess the situation. How many cars are here, who's here, where are my friends, it's a quick mind overload. I quickly look around and find a spot to park and set up the ez-up. It's gonna be a hot day, and I don't want to dehydrate. Registration is easy and it's just a number plate pick up. I see that the back of my number plate has a chip in it for timing, which is great because it leads to much more accurate timing.
Time for some practice runs. I meet up with John Ronca and we ride the course backwards to the top. This allows us to examine lines and warm up at the same time. The course is almost identical to the course I raced here last year. The top of the course is large chattery rock, with multiple line options. After riding for a couple of minutes I notice that something is wrong with my fork, and the rebound is not working properly. I head slowly down the course to get back to the lot and figure out my next plan of action. In the back of my car is a back up bike, and with the help of John Ronca we swap the forks. My forks travel is now reduced from 140mm to 120mm, so I try to compensate by adding a lot of headset spacers. After we're done its right back to the top to see how it feels. I can tell the front end rides lower, but at least the fork works.
It's race time and I'll be the second pro to leave the gate. Going early makes me happy, that way I'm not sitting at the top cooling down, or over analyzing the course. My body feels good and I'm happy with how practice went. The start countdown is simple, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 5 seconds, and 3.2.1..go! Leaving the starting gate I feel good, each section of the course is flowing into the next, I've made a couple small mistakes but nothing that I feel has cost me a lot of time. The course has one climb, and 3 long flat pedal sections and I give each of them all I have. Crossing the finish line I am happy with my run, and feel like I put down a competitive time.
As with every race the long process of waiting for results can seem painful. You simply want to know how you did. It's a time to meander and talk to friends about how they feel they did, and to hear stories about their race experience. When results finally get posted it looks a pack of starving hyenas going for a wounded fawn. I prefer to wait until the congestion dies down a little.
I did it, I won! The feeling is incredible, knowing that all my hard work and dedication has paid off. All this does is fuel my fire to continue training like I have been. I enjoy training more than anything, every time I'm on a bike I consider it training. It all adds up to one final product.
Thanks to John Ronca for helping me with the day, practice, and swapping forks.