Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Racing at Ringwood for a Change

photo by coog: http://coog.smugmug.com/

I don't think it really set in, until we were driving up Morris Rd at 9:30 on race day. After a decade of pre-dawn preparations for promotional duties and volunteer work for Ringwood races, we were finally just racing. My plan was to hang out and watch some Cat 2 & 3 racing with no particular jobs, other than to get myself ready to race myself. I was really relaxed, and completely enjoying my long deserved freedom to just race. I don't think I had raced Ringwood in 5 or 6 years, and even then, it was hectic and involved getting up early, and cleaning the course after the race, which usually meant riding back into an empty parking lot after sunset. It really is a thankless job, and I am happy to shift my focus to more rewarding things, like building trails, or enjoying a race.

So my day began with a smile inside, and got better as it went. I enjoyed watching the racers so much that I was a little late getting back to the car to prepare for my race. This turned out to be a good thing because I usually get ready too early and finish my warm up too soon and sit around before my start, resulting in a bad start. The timing was perfect and off we went. I had a great start and felt like I was in mix with the leaders in sight. With all the roads on the first half of the lap, racers went back and fourth a bit which was nice. There were a few sections that had bogged me down on the pre-ride, and much to my surprise, those ended up being my strongest sections where I was able to pass others. It's funny how things change when you are focussed.

At the end of my first lap, I came across Laura who had crashed hard. I stopped very briefly to find out she thought she could ride out and maybe continue. I decided to continue. Now this is where girls get weird. Any guy would have jumped back into the race, like no big deal, but I kept thinking I should stop and check with her again. So I did, and more ladies started to catch up. So either you race or you stop, right? All I can say is "girls are girls". Eventually I continued on to my second lap, still thinking about if I should have stopped again. Dar was on my wheel, and she seemed like she needed a lift on the long road, so I pulled the whole way, and we talked a bit. Then I lost my concentration, dropping my chain and doing a series of mishaps, and found myself 2 ladies back. A induced a little self pep talk and that along with catching a few glimpses of Cynthia ahead, kept me in the game and pushing.

I continued to feel energetic right through my last lap, and worked my way back up to Dar by the switch-backs. At that point, I felt accomplished to get there and was happy to roll in to the finish behind her. Apparently she was cramping, and got off to walk the final switchback. Howie was there cheering and I wasn't going to let him see me walk any climb, so I put on my race face and nailed that thing. It just so happened, that I passed Dar too, which was not my plan. So, it ended up that Dar rolled into the finish just behind me. I know, and she knows, that we finished together. Yeh, I know, (roll eyes) "girls". I am just real happy that my energy levels were that good for the whole race. It may have been my best race of the year, and it is indeed a good feeling to end the season on a good note.

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