I was nervous. I hate to admit it, but even the smallest mountain bike races seem to make me nervous, I guess because I have barely been doing these things for a month. As the raced neared, the enormity of it began to dawn upon me. This was a 12 hour race that I decided to do a week ago. I was responsible for half of it, as I would be alternating laps with my teammate. I can handle 6 hours of riding, but 6 hours spread out over 12? Not sure how that was going to work out. But I would soon find out.
As we arrived in the pit area of the race site, some pretty fancy set ups were starting to take shape. Pop up tents, real tents, grills, lounge chairs, bike stands, tables, and people driving up in large trucks, SUVs and vans. We were the only ones to arrive in a MINI Cooper and rig up a backpacking tarp.
My teammate, Jared, rode the first lap. Good thing, because I probably would have let everyone pass me. When it was time for my lap, I was in place with all the fast guys and fast guys teammates because Jared is just too fast. That resulted in me getting passed a lot, and doing my first lap a little faster than what was probably best, and me getting a little stressed out.
Between laps it was HOT. It was already HOT and it was only 10:00. I already completely lost my appetite, and I was already dehydrated. Not looking to be a good day. By my third lap I was sure I was done. I thought about how I was going to totally let Jared down, making him finish the race on his own. I had a headache since lap two and it pounded over every bump in the trail. I figured I could squeeze out one more bad lap, but it wouldn’t be pretty. We were planning on 11, me doing 5 and him 6, so if I at least did 4 I wouldn’t be a complete failure, if I could even do 4. I thought about the people doing the solo race and wondered how I could be such a baby, and I pictured Jared looking at his watch wondering what was taking so long, and suddenly doubting my worthiness as a teammate. Finally I returned, and as I gave him our timing chip, I expressed my feelings of death and trudged back to the tarp to stew in the heat.
However, when I got back to the tarp some marvelous things began to occur. The school behind our tarp was starting to produce some shade, shade that was much cooler than what was under the tarp. I changed out of my wet clothes, finally got out one of my two frozen water bottles, drank the entire bottle, and for the first time washed off my arms and legs with the nearby cold hose water. I was a new person. I scarfed down what food I could (still not hungry), took some ibuprofen for my headache (didn’t want to but couldn’t avoid it), fixed my squealing brake pads, changed back into riding clothes, and scurried back to transition. I told Jared that I felt better, we chatted for a bit, and I was off.
Up to this point we were neck and neck with another co-ed duo team. Jared was faster than their guy, but I was slower than their girl. She had actually passed me in the exact same spot on my last two laps, and before our next lap, she declared that the race was on. This time, however, she did not catch me. Lap 4 was like a different world, I felt like my time was so much faster that I was worried Jared would not be at transition if he was going off of my terrible Lap 3 time. Being one of the most prepared people I know, he was of course there. We had officially opened the gap. The next lap was a similar story, with us gaining a few more minutes, thanks again to a frozen water bottle and a hose. I was not exactly going faster, I was going about the same (except for Lap 3 of death), but as results would later prove, she got a bit slower with each lap. As Jared went off for his 6th and our 11th lap, I knew we secured 2nd place. Turns out, he really didn’t need the 6th lap, we would have gotten second with 10, but 11 looks WAY cooler.
I will not even mention the people who beat us…ok I will. They were insanely fast. 13 laps. I didn’t even think that was possible. Apparently, the girl on their team is going pro. Hopefully, that means that next year she will be doing a fancier race and I will not have to race her…or ride really far behind her. I don’t think you can even call me and her racing.
As the pain of enduring the day subsided, and we sat and had a beer, and then went on to the awards as the sun went down, I started to realize that it was a really fun day. And as I could barely walk up the hill for a bagel the next morning because every part of my body hurt, I started to think how I was glad that I only had to wait three more days for my next race. This mountain bike racing stuff seems to be highly addictive.