Saturday, Hwood and I packed up the weiner and hit the road for the Marty road race. Smokey couldn't resist the urge for driving lessons....
Although the winds were whipping up to 25mph, we saddled up and rode ourselves to the line with mere seconds to spare to get in on time. The turnout for the women's race was fabulous, but there was little cooperation as we headed into the wind.
The riders strung out along the center line, single file, pushing 28 mph and ripping my haven't-warmed-up-yet legs off. At 4.5 miles in, we turned a corner back into the headwind and the pocket I tucked myself into collapsed in on itself and a half dozen gals covered the road from ditch to ditch. I veered the Princess into the left side ditch to avoid running over one of my comrades and, by the time I assessed the situation and turned to see the remainder of the field, they were a kilometer or so up the road.
Without second thought, I charged after them, trying desparately to get my bike over 16mph in the strong winds. I chased for a mile or two before I realized it was useless... I was alone... and there were 38 miles to go. It was my longest time trial ever..... and somehow I didn't let myself give up.
Sure, there were moments when I wanted to quit.... but then they'd be followed by me imagining I was Fabian Cancellera, storming through the Belgian countryside on a solo TT in front of the field as I was forcing my bike up to 37 mph on the back side of the course. It was awesome! And I held off a few riders for the entirety, pulling in a decent 10th place finish. But I worked my ass off and never gave up.... the pride in that has stuck with me much more than the beating my ego took so early in the race.
To make up for some shortcomings on the road, I finished off my weekend railing the trails at Theodore Wirth. Practicing this winter with Hwood, riding at night or in the snow, or even riding snow at night, taught me tons! I learned a little body English to get me between the trees, how to look ahead, let the bike float, and even how to tackle a challenge with a little less fear.
So, when Wheels came and grabbed me for an afternoon in the dirt, I was ready. My first lap was mild as we warmed up and Wheels took a moment here and there to make me redo the obstacles I tried to walk over. (THANKS!) Then, for lap two, we ramped it up a bit as Wheels pushed harder and I tried to keep up. Come lap three, I was ready to tackle all the log piles and rocks and laugh at my previous hesitations....and I did.
I laughed at myself when I tipped over on the rock garden climb, still pedaling on the way down in some attempt to pull out of it. It knocked my rear derailuer a little out of whack, but I survived it, so who cares, eh? So we pressed on and kept pushing to ride faster and smoother.
With a load of confidence and new techniques to practice, I charged through a sandy left turn with just a little too much heat and not enough control, washing out my bike as though I was trying to steal home. Knowing it was going to hurt later, and reassured that all my arms and legs still worked, I jumped right back on my bike and kept going.
But the reaction when we got to all the other riders at the head of the trail made me realize I looked a little ragged. Blood had started to seep through the hip of my shorts and the blood dripping down my knee was more than obvious. My arm, which I thought was just dirty, revealed itself once I finally jumped in the shower and had to scrub the dirt out of the cuts.
Crazy thing is, I was grinning from ear to ear... man I love the dirt! Can't wait for the first mountain bike race!!!!! Until then, I'm just trying to get my body to heal up so I don't walk so silly and flinch every time I use an arm rest.