Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Being One with the Mud

After what seems like months of rain, we have yet another wet race. I was a little hesitant going into the day, but I had already sat out two races because of the rain, and with a car full of carpoolers, it was like I already had my momentum going there, so I followed my inertia. The sun peeked out when I arrived and it was a wonderful site.

Laura and I warmed up together on the back roads in the park. This was actually the first race I have felt good enough to even put my heart rate monitor on, and I was pleased to see my normal spikes. We decided to ride into a trail we came upon, and although it was not in the race, it is one of my favorites. Besides being glad to ride this trail, it gave us a good idea of what to expect. … water, water everywhere, but bottoms hard and wet rocks with some grip. I was quite comfortable with all of these things.

The Pro’s and the aspiring Pros lined up in the first row, and Wendi and I got shuffled to a third row, with all others in the second row. Lining up in the back is not always bad if you chose a good wheel to line up behind, and in this case, I was shot like a projectile into 5th spot going into the prologue turn. As expected, I blew up, and Melissa and Katina came by right before the first giant puddle, … kursplush!!! The unknown feeling of the first puddle was sooo much fun! I never rode through a puddle like that as a kid, so it was like reliving my childhood in a new persona. Shortly after and half way through the prologue single-track, Ellen came by, and disappeared. I managed to keep Katina in sight. I was feeling surprisingly good.

I got a little mentally bent out of shape on Major Mike trail that first lap, but totally figured out what I needed to do for future laps. When I exited, Katina was still right there in front of me, so I felt like my mishaps did not cost me as much time as perceived. I did not dwell on what I did wrong, but envisioned what I would do right on the next lap. Luckily Stewart has a heavy shale content that made a firm bottom for the many puddles that covered the trails. I am very thankful for the deep puddles, because they kept my tires clean enough so that I could keep them rolling, and that was my main focus of the race.

My plan was to find water. Halfway through my first lap, I committed myself to this quest and it began to consume me, pushing me forward. I did not ride super fast, but stayed steady and efficient. By the end of the first lap I moved back up into second place and started working my way through the men’s class. The less I used the brakes, the better. I bumped a few trees and put a foot out here and there, but had no falls.

I finished the race feeling stronger at 2:48 than my last race at 2:00. Good thing, because I had a lot of clean up to do. It may seem strange, but I enjoy the clean up. My bikes bring me so many good times, that returning them to good health is quite rewarding. Muddy mountain bikers were indeed smiling on Sunday, and I was feeling as one with the mud.

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