Saturday, June 13, 2009

Arctic Valley Hell Climb

Since I have all of this time this weekend while I'm resting my foot, I decided to catch up on some posts that I wrote in May but never posted. Here's one from the first and last mountain bike race that I did so far this season. Hopefully it won't be the last for the summer.

I have to note that when I asked Tim if he wanted to do this ride once he said he'd rather saw one of his toes off with a piece of dental floss, which I thought was quite hilarious until, well... I almost sawed my toe off.

From May 20th

Tuesday was the first mountain bike race of the season. I couldn't get any of my friends to go, I wonder why? Maybe because the Arctic Valley Hill Climb is 6 miles and 2000 feet of elevation gain on a dusty dirt road with little scenery and a lot of pain.

I didn't expect to do well relative to the others in this race. I have never actually successfully ridden all the way to the top of this road on my own. That's kind of why I entered the race, so that I would not be able to quit halfway through.

About one mile into the race, just as we started to ride uphill, the rest of the pack disappeared over the horizon. I was on my own and moving at about 4 mph, chugging away in granny gear. At that time I began to think about how bad of an idea this was. I didn't want to go all the way to the top. I was in pain, breathing heavily and my calf muscles felt as if they were going to spill out onto the pavement.

This is how most of my races go. I'm so excited at the start and about 10 minutes in I have so many negative thoughts about why I do not belong in the race. After I get warmed up I have a moment of elation where I love my life and Alaska and the world and everyone in the race. That usually very quickly subsides and I'm back to self-loathing. Maybe that's why I never do well?

I should be at the front of the pack, jogging out of the saddle, full of energy, shouting my mantra! I can do it! I can do it! Like this guy who broke the record and got to the top in 34 minutes and 11 seconds. I guess that's just not my style. My style is self deprecation balanced with euphoria. I guess you could say I'm a manic depressive racer. I'm an idiot! I am soo cool. How the hell did I get here? This is awesome, I hope this race never ends! When does this race end?

Well, it seems to work for me. I finished. I came in last and the race organizer was packed up and driving away as I got to the top, but I finished damn it. And it felt good. I think starting this race is an accomplishment in and of itself. That's probably why there were only 15 people there.

I do strive to do better, though. I don't always want to just finish. I'm still fairly new to bike racing and I think with experience and better fitness I'll see myself moving up in the pack. But in the meantime, maybe I need to work on my attitude?

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