And that somewhere for me is 3rd place. I came in 3rd in the beginner's mountain bike race at Kincaid tonight. I was nervous about the race all afternoon. I'm not sure why. I keep telling myself I am only going out for a ride, and I'm only competing against myself, but I still get nervous. I think it is because my accident always creeps into my mind when I think about going fast on a mountain bike.
Most of you probably know this story but for those of you who do not here it is. Two years ago and one month after I arrived in Alaska I went out for a bike ride on the Hillside Trails in Anchorage with Brian. It was the Sunday of Memorial day weekend and a perfect day. Before we left for Hillside Brian insisted that I buy my first helmet. I had never really ridden anything very difficult before so I never wore a helmet.
We were riding for about 20 minutes and I was loving it. I had never gone that fast on a mountain bike before and with each hill I was trying to go faster and faster. I arrived at the top of a pretty steep hill and let Brian pass and go down around the corner. I told myself I would pedal as fast as I could down this hill to see how fast I could go. Halfway down the hill and the next thing I know I am projected into the air. I flipped over onto my shiny new helmet, now 20 feet from where I was launched. My legs came over my head and crunch. I came to a stop and had the worst pain I ever felt shooting up and down my leg. The kind of pain where you think you might pass out because you can't handle it. After about 5 minutes of this, the pain started to diminish and by that time Brian had made his way back to me after hearing my screams.
I had broken my tibial plateau. Off. Not the first time I have broken a leg in half but this time I am reminded of it every time I turn my leg the wrong way and feel the seven pins that are in there. So to make a long story short, I told myself I would not let this stop me from biking. The first day I was able to put weight on my leg I went biking. Very, very slowly. I've slowly been able to work up to going relatively fast downhill, but not without fear. Every blind corner I come around I think about the steep drop-off that may be on the other side. Sometimes I walk down. Sometimes I clench my handlebars so tight I think I might snap them off.
So I think the nervousness today was because I knew that the race course would lead me to the "Advanced" ski trails that I had never ridden before. I took the hills pretty slowly at first, but there were so many that by the end I was completely comfortable going fast downhill again. That is the way it goes. You have to make yourself uncomfortable first and you will eventually find comfort.
Oh, by the way, did I mention there were only 3 people in the race? Minor detail...