Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hit It Like You Mean It!

My thought processes are finicky. I was seriously kicking around entering the Absolute Bikes Old Fashioned Mountain Bike Race to benefit the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance. I figured, it was one of my goals, and I'd never been in a race before, why not?

Then I successfully talked myself out of it, with reasons like "I'm not competitive enough." and "I can ride on the trails anytime I want to." I hadn't ever ridden the course, and just wasn't sure about it. Also, the race was capped to 300 riders, and I had figured it was full.

Then I went on a night ride with some folks from Team Absolute, and they talked me in to signing up.

Yeah, successfully indeed.

So, I found myself signed up, and sitting in eager anticipation waiting to start riding this morning, trying to convince myself that it's just a bike ride, and to just have fun, and ride my own pace, and stick to my goal of just finishing my three laps before the 1PM cutoff time. It wasn't until most of the riders had passed me at the end of the first lap that I finally started relaxing and falling into a groove with the climbs. I had no ambitions about trying to finish well, I just wanted TO finish, so every time someone was coming up behind me, I moved over with more haste and enthusiasm than was probably necessary.

Hey, I know I'm gonna come in last, I just don't want to slow anyone else down.

So, about 4 or so miles into my second lap, I spun a rock out from under my rear wheel as I was negotiating a technical climb, and bashed my right pedal into a rock. My foot popped out of the pedal, and I could not clip back in. "Ok, this is annoying." Stop, drag the bike off the side of the trail, and look:

There's yer problem, right there.

One bent wing with cracks where it is brazed to the body, the spring's kicked off it's seat, and the entire pedal body bent along it's axis, binding the bearings on the spindle. After spending a few moments thinking "Ok, how can I fix this" I pulled out my Leathermans, and pulled the pedal body off the spindle, with the intention of finishing the race like this:

Yeah, that didn't happen. With no foot retention on my right foot, my left leg was doing most of the work. I couldn't climb anything technical, and my right foot kept slipping around and off the spindle. My first race, and it became my first DNF.

Oddly enough though, I had a blast after I bashed the pedal. Now that I wasn't racing at all, I could just ride with my head up and enjoy the scenery. I made sure to stay out of everyone's way, and just sort of cruised. It's a shame I didn't have that mentality at the start of the race, as I think I would have done much better, but I'll attribute that to the fact that it was my first time racing.

Another thing was that, even with the broken pedal, I wasn't that much slower, and probably could have finished the race on it. But, it wasn't safe, with that sharp spindle hanging out waiting to gouge my leg if I let my foot slip off, or if I was involved in a crash with another rider. Better to take the DNF with no bodily injury, no shame in that.

All in all, a great race, a great FIRST race for me, with (in my opinion) excellent support, for a good cause. I'll probably be back next year for it, and hopefully, with a finishing time.

"3: Enter in a mountain bike race. Preferably the Crazy 88, but we'll see. This one is highly uncertain, but we'll see."

Two of three goals down.
Mileage: 29.7

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