Saturday, August 20, 2011

Race Day!

So yeah. Today was the Absolute Bikes Old Fashioned Mountain Bike Race, to benefit the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance.

Exe was nice enough to be my transport to and from the race, and hung out while I was pedaling to watch. Before the race, I asked if he had any bets as to what I would break today... frame, fork, taco a wheel, maybe. He said I'd taco the frame pump. Wouldn't that be interesting...

So, after getting all registered, and waiting an hour and a half, (We got there good and early) which gave plenty of time for the nerves to set in, the race started, and everyone bolted. I quickly fell back through the field, and settled into my own pace, which was significantly slower than everyone else.

The first lap went fairly well. No one passed me, and I even managed to pass a couple people. I paced myself, and spent some more time figuring out the new suspension fork, which settings would be best for climbing, flats, downhill, technical, et cetera.

I have to stop here, and just say how awesome having a suspension fork is. I never realized how much the rigid fork was beating me up. I'd have some pretty good fatigue going in my arms and shoulders about 20 miles into a good ride, but with the suspension fork, riding over 30 miles in a race, I had none of that. Not to mention how much faster I was on the downhills.

Lap two started off well, as well. I had a second wind for the climb up the road, and managed that fairly well. I ended up getting passed by a couple people, but they were in the teen race. Never mind that even if they were doing the full race, they'd still wipe the floor with me. But oh well. About half way into the second lap, I had my first new-fork related crash. (Woo!)

I came around a turn, and planted the front wheel against a rock. I wasn't leaning back far enough, so the fork squished all the way, and pivoted bike and rider over the wheel, neatly depositing us on the trail. I don't know how, but I came off it completely unscathed. I didn't even get my jersey dirty. I just remember the crash, then immediately picking up the bike and riding on, as the guy behind me shouted "That was impressive!" The rest of the second lap was spent building my confidence back up.

The third lap was a long hard struggle. It was long, it was hard, and it was a struggle. The road felt steeper, the singletrack climb was brutal and longer, and the downhill left me with shaking legs that wanted to bounce off the pedals like a sewing machine needle. Never mind I had already ridden it twice today, it felt like a completely different and foreign trail. It was a grind. I didn't see many people. I finished the lap with not much left in me. I was glad it was my last lap.

I finished the race!

My plan was to take it easy on the first two laps, and give the last lap everything I had. I did just that, but when it came to the third lap, I didn't have much left to give. But I finished! That was my main goal. My soft goal was to finish in three hours and 30 minutes, but I didn't care so much about that as just finishing.

So, Exegete and I packed up the bike and went home. I showered, hydrated, and had a soda, and felt good enough to hop on STeve and ride to the awards party downtown.

Cool clouds on the way to. First chance I'd had all day to look up, really.

I hung out with the real racers, ate pizza, watched trophies get handed out, and talked. Unfortunately I didn't get my race time there, due to a bit of a snafu. It didn't matter. I might have been last, (I was sure of it.) but I finished!

So imagine my surprise when I got home, and looked up the race results online?

Specifically, the class I was in?

9   837 KEVIN OKON            99    3 3:23:42

9th place, out of 11. I wasn't last! and I finished in 3:23! Faster than my 3:30 goal.

I'm tired, I know I'll be sore tomorrow, but I feel good. I gave it my best, and finished a race. I feel strangely accomplished for having ridden around in circles. Very tough, challenging circles.

And I didn't even taco my frame pump.
Mileage: 42.2 (33.8 raced on Tri, 8.4 moseyed on STeve.)

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