Let me preface this by saying that I AM talking about a Cat 3 45+ mountain bike race, so in the grand scheme of things, the subject of this post is really not that important. Ok, that was the disclaimer, now on to the post.
After years of struggling, self-doubt, crashing, half-assing, and generally wussing I out; I finally decided to HTFU and give this bike racing thing my all. Either I was going to be a racer or not, once and for all.
Since last fall I have carefully planned by workouts, diet, etc working toward yesterday. I was very concerned all winter that no matter what I did there just was no potential there and that when May 1 rolled around I'd be right back there at race's end dangling off the back.
Then the first outdoor group ride rolled around and I hung in there with the group when I would have normally gotten dropped. Maybe the training helped I thought, but its too early to tell.
Then I hit up the crit at Pioneer Park, part of the le Tour de Husker. Aside from a clipping in issue, I had a great race. I was starting to have a bit of hope.
I settled into what I have determined to be a decent routine earlier this week as far as food, rest, etc and got prepared for the Psycowpath race at Swanson that I determined was going to be my litmus test. I was able to fight off the crippling fear and doubt that usually comes with an event like this, and left the house race-morning feeling good and - dare I say? - ready.
I got a good warm-up, chatted, and eventually found myself on the start line. Ok, here I am. Now what?
After an unexpected starting procedure, I found myself picking through a glut of riders trying to get a good place going into what I knew was going to be a crowded singletrack. Teammate Jerry Hoff and I were riding together and started picking off a few slower riders and decided we were the leaders in our age group.
We worked up to a group of riders and were trying to get around them when one of them crashed in a choke point, I tried to go around but hit some loose logs and went down. I lost a couple places but managed to get rolling again and back on pace. I eventually worked my way past all the riders who went by when I crashed and caught Jerry right at the finish line and, well dammit, I won.
I was in the top 15 or so of all the cat 3 combined riders with a competitive finish time. I know I can do better and am very excited that I wasn't red-lining the entire time either mentally or physically. It truly was a good race for me. It was what it should be - fun. And, my plan had worked, which was quite satisfying.
So, am I a bike racer? Yeah, I suppose I am. Do I have designs on bumping up a category in road and MTB? Yes. Several guys have said that it looks like I have the potential but that I should wait and get some more races in me first.
Yeah, I can do that.