"Flight is a seemingly magical thing to creatures rooted to the Earth, and dreams of cutting loose our bonds and taking to the skies permeate every aspect of human mythology. Thus there has been no lack of curiosity, from the classical age to the Renaissance and through to the present as to how birds have managed to do what we can only crudely imitate." Slightly interesting article about birds
Yeah, I'm still learning. I'm still 'crudely imitating' that which I have watched Chris do a million times over the past 6 1/2 years. This weekend I officially, successfully, and happily completed my first cross-country bike race. It had its flaws and because of them I didn't place well, but I had a blast. I giggled 80% of the race. I 'took to the skies' and conquered something that scared me sh!tless. I was a nervous wreck.
Saturday morning we left early for Winter Park. When we got there we cruised down, used the bathroom, and got our number plates. After heading back up to the car I decided to lay in the back of the E, turn on my music, and try not to focus on my heart pounding in my stomach. Chris's race started at 10:00. I hauled my stuff to get ready and a big camping chair up the hill to see him go. At the top I met Stephan's wife, Sheryl. We hung out, watched the boys go, and she graciously carried the big chair down as I headed back to the car to put in my contacts. After a while we got settled down on the course as we handed bottles to our husbands and some of their friends/teammates. It was a lot of fun sitting and watching all of the people go by... I actually miss just being a spectator at these short events.
Chris did awesome. He didn't crash (YAY!) and he placed pretty well considering it was another random event that he didn't train for. I'm very proud of him! He immediately started rattling off turns to look for and what to do in certain parts of the course -- I caught some of it but was also so nervous that most if it ran out my ears as soon as it went in.
Eventually the beginner women went off (about 25 minutes late) and I got to stage in the front behind Sheryl. I was happy to not get stuck at the back of the decently big group.
We started the race down a hill and on a relatively flat/slight rolling road next to the train tracks. The start was fast and I stuck with the top 3 or 4 girls. I knew that if I was going to place, I needed to stick up here when the single track started. All was well until I tried to think ahead and shift down from my middle ring in the front to the small ring in anticipation of the upcoming sharp turn onto the single track. That's when my chain fell down and I had to get off to fix it. It took just long enough to get off and fix it when the herd came plowing through and I had to let them pass before hopping back onto the trail. I thought for a second that I might be able to crank my way past them back to my original position when it happened again. DOH!
I got off to fix it again and this time the slow back group came past me and I knew the whole racing concept was done. Rookie mistake #1. Turns out I finished only about 5 minutes behind 3rd place, if I would've been a little more proactive and pushed my way ahead of this slower group, I easily could've been in the top 3 in my group. Had my chain not fallen off, it would've been interesting to hang with the leaders. Oh well.
Instead, when my chain fell off the second time, I decided to give up the goat on racing and decided to just have fun. I didn't kill myself up the uphill, I stuck on a girl's wheel and let her lead the way up. I could've passed her but instead of killing myself, I decided to stick with her and try to encourage her. Pretty soon I got to see Chris cheering me on as he pedalled his butt up the hill to come meet me on the road crossings. That was nice!
This was the girl whose wheel I stuck on for the first uphill.
This is me about to pass her like she's standing still. According to the results, she must've passed me back at some point but I don't remember that... oh well.
Once we hit the upper part of the uphill, I passed her and then got stuck behind two girls that fell off every time there was any sort of obstacle on the uphill. I should've passed them immediately but they were nice and I wanted to make sure they didn't die by the time they reached the downhill. Also, right about then a nice rain/lightning storm moved in and I was happy to have other people around. I knew if I passed them it would be a solo effort for a while before reaching the next group. It poured pretty hard, which felt great, but it was also lightning that would flash and immediately BOOM! I crouched down and tried to be lower than the other girls :)
Eventually I passed these girls at the beginning of the descent and I had the trail pretty much to myself the rest of the ride. There was one guy and one little boy that I saw on the downhill, but other than that I got to ride it alone. It was fun to go my own pace -- I went fast enough to scare myself and didn't walk any of it. I bet I made up a ton of time on the rest of the field on this part. I still thought I was 10+ behind anyone. The descent was fun -- I wasn't a fan of the lower part, but the rest of it was a blast. Finally I popped out at the finish and got to see everyone waiting there for me. What a fun ride! Congratulations to everyone that rode! Melissa -- you did AWESOME! I wish I could've ridden with you more than just seeing you blow by as I fixed the chain. I can't wait for this race next year!
Which picture was from the finish of the blasted hill climb last week and the WAY MORE FUN xc race this weekend? HMMM? Even if you can't zoom in for facial expression, bike position says a lot about my mood...
P.S: Thanks to the Feedback Team for letting me wear their jersey for this race! I think it gave me the extra confidence needed to have fun this week!