RACE REPORT: Greenbrier Challenge 2007

RACE REPORT: The Greenbrier Challenge 2007

with racing there is usually some anxiety...
pre-race anxiety builds and builds
on race day the anxiety settles with the distractions of the day
until the racers take the line
then the anxiety takes another form
everything is fine when the whistle blows and the race starts

the greenbrier challenge was no different
there was plenty of pre-race anxitey
being the first race of season there was additional anxiety
on race day anxiety appeared in its usual forms
at the line I fought the anxiety by making small talk with the other men in the Clydesdale Class

the only familiar face was Donald of Avalon Cycles
I had no idea what to expect of anyone
my eyes scanned for chris redlack but he was not there
the game plan was to ride my race
not to get caught up in the speed or intensity of anyone else
yet I still tried to size up the competition

the officials gave us a two minute warning
the sounds around me blending into white noise
my heart started to beat faster
the combination of anxiety and caffiene were taking control
my foot tapped nervously on the ground
while the other foot remained locked in the clip with the pedal in the ten o'clock position
waiting to thrust down
that two minutes can be a strange limbo
noticing that my heart rate was high I thought that some yoga breathing exercises may help
then there was the alert of 15 seconds
instead of counting down with those seconds
I waited for the release

at the release of our class I fumbled for a second with the clips then thrusted ahead
donald and another racer were already sprinting forward
I dashed to catch up with them
as we entered the single track a rider passed me... then passed donald
in the middle ring I attacked the climb ahead these riders

not being a strong sprinter or strong climber I muscled my way up the first hill
then dropped down the fireroad into the first rock garden
not far into the rock garden I was passed by another Clydesdale
my handling on my Surly Karate Monkey was no match for his technique with his something or other double banger
he rolled through things
while I picked my way about
I continued at his pace for a stretch
then allowed him to motor on without me
reminding myself to ride my race
to stay within my limits
to push myself
but not to foolishly over extend myself

the first lap ended
as I crossed the start finish Scott Scudamore announced that I was in first
with the raise of two fingers I signaled that I was in second
I rounded the bend and headed back into the woods for lap two

feeling pretty okay I took the climb in the middle ring
there were a few logs freshly tossed on the trail that slowed my momentum

more familiar with the course I rolled through the second lap with a little more confidence
pleased I had not been passed
not so focused on trying to reel in the first place racer ahead of me

my pace was comfortable
it made more sense to me to race smart rather than getting sloppy trying to catch the leader
on the downhills I was a little heavy on the brakes
the short travel hardtail may have disadvantaged me a bit
or at least that was one of my top five excuses

lap two ended and Scud filled the air with some mention over the loud speaker of my writing the Singletrack Column for SPOKES magazine
then Scud mentioned my often racing on a Single Speed... but not on this course
as I rolled past the Start/Finish I got the word from Vince of PVC that I was three and a half minutes behind the leading Clydesdale
my bike and body felt good... but not good enough for me to pick up the pace

I entered the woods
rolling up to the base of the first climb I gave into weakness and shifted into the granny gear
in an effort to drop things into the small ring in the front I dropped my chain
right in front of Kevin Dillard of Velophotos
Kevin Snapped away as I dismounted and put my chain back in place
I thought to myself that actions like this was no way to reel in the leader
Kevin continued to snap pictures as he laughed in a devious way
then he uttered that these pictures would do well on my blog

in the name of fun once back on the bike I did a lame wheelie in Kevin's direction
with the wheel just a few inches off the ground I ran kevin off the trail and continued up the climb

my pace was a little off the laps prior
there were less racers to pass
I was forced to focus on allowing the fast experts to get by
there was no stopping or pulling over
but there was some slowing down and rolling over to the trailside

the bike and body felt good
there was a certain level of glee from the notion that I was going to finish the race
knowing that I could not catch the leader left me free to just enjoy the last lap
I smiled to myself about the fact that my bike and body were holding up
technically I was still sound
my hands were a little sore from riding the brakes
my legs were not nearly as fresh as they were on lap one

clearing the rock garden without dabbing
clearing the barkless log pile
these things gave me joy
getting off to march the climbs... well even if that was to be expected
it was no joy

after several years of attending races at this venue
and the two prior laps I was pretty familiar with the course
as the kilometers counted down on this 8 mile course I started to feel a certain level of satisfaction
no... I had not won the race
but there is a personal victory just from being out on the bike

it was a good day on the bike

results for the greenbrier challenge

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