There is only one word, one emotion, to describe how I felt the days prior to my first mountain bike race.
It was no surprise.
I was diving into something I had very little knowledge of.
I hadn’t even watched a XC mountain bike race before. In fact, the only thing I really knew about them, is that they took place on mountain bikes.
I’ve heard they were fun…
I have a mountain bike…
I want to have fun…
And so I dove into it.
The days leading up to this race, I started to get more and more of a knot in my stomach. I’ve felt this before. It happened last year before my first CX race. It happens any time I try something new.
I’m not sure why. I really do have a “just finish” mentality. I could care less where I place, just so long as I put in my all and finish.
So the days leading up to this, I was nervous, I had this weird feeling in my stomach, and I wondered exactly what it took to do a race and if I was even ready to do it.
I got some great advice about the course from Tom Platt of the JL Velo Ambassadors Team, and the Friday before, I had some 1 on 1 coaching from Alexandria Luschen to go over the things I thought I needed the most work on.
Even with her encouragement, I still felt nervous, but now I felt even more nervous. Now I had to make sure that those words of encouragement didn’t go to waste.
Saturday I tried to relax. Started off with a simple breakfast, went to the shop, put on “Transformers The Movie”, you know, “You’ve Got The Touch”… Yah, that one. Watching it made me feel old, especially when you’ve got the young’ins of the group, who weren’t even born yet when it came out.
God I’m getting old…
So I popped that on the projected, and sat on my road bike and spun for an hour and some odd minutes… Caught shit for being on the trainer so long, caught shit for spinning “too hard” before a race day…
Still enjoyed my movie… Maybe next week I’ll watch Up. I haven’t seen that in awhile. I could use some Kevin and Doug.
Made sure I ate a balanced lunch on Saturday too, you know, something good for you. Fish is good for you, right? Fried fish sandwich from Wendy’s?
Someone said you need to eat fish a couple times a week. It was delicious… Especially with the chocolate protein shakes they serve there called frosties…
Rest of day I muddled around the shop, worked on bikes, then finally got around to prepping my bike…
Dang this thing is heavy… People are going to have much nicer, and lighter bikes, damn I’m nervous…
Day ended, night time came, went out for dinner with Kyle, Mac, and Francis. Ooba Tooba I think is the name?
They have great chicken, I had a quesadilla.
And a basket of chips…
And Francis’ basket of chips…
I eat when I’m nervous
Home, pack for the day ahead, take high school girl styled self portrait in mirror of me in race kit, go to bed.
Wake up at 5:am
Eat breakfast, get ready, leave at 6:45.
Get to Park at 7:30. See them setting up registration and I fill out paper work, they take registration right away.
Sweet, I can get some time to relax and ride around a little.
I ride around a bit, then decide to get on the course and check it out. I have to cut it short as time is getting near to get back for the start.
I actually went through the hassle earlier that morning marking out with times of when I needed to take certain things, drink what, take what, yade yade. It’s all very complicated to me, I don’t understand why people do it.
But I’m doing it…
I get on the starting line, Oh damn, I’m in the front row. Tom told me I need to be up here… There are some nice bikes up here.
Heart rate goes up
In my excitement of a start, something I failed to practice or do since CX season, I somehow managed to unclip my right foot as I pushed down in my stroke, I’m all upset and I think everyone passes me…
Luckily I put Crank Brothers Mallets on my bike, so I have a wide platform and just start pedaling without being clipped in. I finally get 1 foot, then the other… First corner, around, I pass some people, I pedal hard, and I try counting people ahead of me, but in my heart rate is too high, and when the blood gets pumping, my body can’t do math. 1.. 2… shoot, what’ comes next?
Now coming up to the first single track section, which is up hill through some bushes, and people disapear, now I have no clue how many people are in front of me. I manage to squeeze by 2 guys as we corner into the single track and up the hill I go.
I pedal like mad up hill, hit the traverse and then pass another as we hit the double back up a very steep hill on to a sharp left back into single track.
I keep behind another couple guys here through some down hill, and eventually make it to the next double track up a hill (lot of hill climbing!). I best them both!
Pedal Pedal Pedal!
I recognize this area, it is from the CX course! Up the hill I go, then down the next, eventually back into some down hill single track, I see a couple more people in the distance.
Dang, they look far away
How did they get there!?
I need to pedal harder! Wonder how many more people are in front of them.
Eventually I catch them both right before the end of the first lap, and pass them.
Now they are behind me, who’s in front of me? I pedal pedal pedal
Down the double, up the single, up the steep hill again. I keep pedaling as hard as I can. My heart rate is staying up there (especially for me on a bike).
I come off the top of the hill, and I look across, and I see people in front of me, shoot. They are a long ways off.
So I pedal pedal pedal
I come up to another group. I realize they are not people who are in front of me, but people who are behind me. So I pass them, and they are nice and pull off as I come up behind them.
I pedal up, and I pedal down hills. Lots more hills than I was expecting, but I’m good with hills, I used to be scared of hills, but I’ve come to love them. I know, sickening.
Eventually I come down the last downhill section, on to the (mostly) flat land again.
I look across the area, I can’t see anyone in front of me. Dang
I look behind me, nobody is behind me.. Hrmm Good
I let off just a tad and pedal on.
Now it’s the final stretch to the finish line.
I come around the last corner, cross the line, and finally stop pedaling…
I get off my bike
I look at my bike
I look at the finish line
I look at my bike again
I look at the finish line
A minute or so goes by
I get back on my bike and go to watch other people cross the line.
I’m starting to cool off, and get cold, so I jump back on my bike, pedal around the parking lot for a few minutes then go to my truck and get dressed.
While dressing, the kid next to me shows up. He raced too. First time out.
He finished last, but is happy as can be.
I know exactly how he feels. I talk to him about my first CX race, that the only important thing I set a goal for was to finish, and I did, I was in the bottom 10, but I still finished.
We talked for a bit. His name was Josh. He was in the 20-29 group. Nice kid, I hope he sticks with it. I gave him advice from my CX racing, about how I would look at the results sheet, see the people who finished in front of me, and then look for them the next race, and try and stay with them (and beat them). He likes that idea, plus it gives him a new goal!
Goals are good things to go for…
Finishing is always my goal…
I didn’t finish at my last CX race in Monroe last year…
I got a flat…
The Cat 2 races start and go on their way, and they go to post results. It’s time for awards.
They do the girls first
Then they go on to the guys.
1st place they call…
Michael McLane… Stand on the blue box…
lots of emotions
Stick around for a few more minutes
Head home then to Mr. Crampy’s
Go and get some lunch, second serving of fish this week, Wendy’s it is, with one of those tasty protein shakes they call frosties.
Clean and service bike, day goes well, come home happy happy.
Write this mess of jumbled words
It may be messy, but it’s my way of saying thank you.
Thank you to Tom for all the advice about the course, and how to use strategy
Thank you to Mr. Crampy’s for letting me hang around the shop for countless hours and babble on about worthless and pointless topics.
And much thanks to Alexandria Luschen for coaching me on my bad habits and pointing out what I need to work on.
I still have lots to work on…
But I’m going to have fun doing it…
Thanks for reading
TLDR Version: Was nervous, went to race, pedaled pedaled pedaled, and got first place had a fish sandwich from Wendy’s The End.