Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's Not (Just) About the Bike

It was a good day for racing. It was sunny, though a bit brisk. The temperature flirted with 40, and it would have been pretty pleasant if not for the wind.

A few interesting things happened at my Kisscross race today. The first is that I actually rode a cyclocross bike. A friend who is down on his luck loaned it to me, hoping to get me to buy it from him. Even though I assured him that a cross bike is not in the budget this year, I was tempted enough to race with it. It now looks like it's going to turn into an early Christmas present.

Riding a cyclocross bike was both good and bad. The good things were that it was a heck of a lot easier to carry over barriers and push up hills than my heavy mountain bike, as well as the psychological boost I got from riding a cyclocross bike. It made me faster, however slightly, because I started racing, as opposed to just riding the course. Interestingly enough, it also messed with mind somewhat negatively.

In order to explain this phenomenon, I have to admit that I'm a huge wuss. I think the biggest barrier to being a mountain bike racer is not the fact that I need to lose weight, don't have a super expensive bike or that I'm out of shape. What I need more than anything else is to grow a pair. In fact, I'm probably one of the only people riding a mountain bike who actually prefers climbing to descending. Downhills scare the crap out of me.

Needless to say, going downhill on a cross bike was much scarier. This was because every time I looked down at the handlebars, etc., I thought "I am riding a road bike." This is bad since I'm the type of person who doesn't like to even ride over a two foot section of gravel or sand on my road bike.

The other problem stemmed from the fact that it was the first time I ever rode that bike and I was just wasn't used to it. However, time and riding will remedy that.

All in all, it was an extremely positive experience. Several good things happened, not the least of which was that I didn't finish dead last. The unofficial results showed that I came in 19th out of 23 racers. Granted, several of the people I finished ahead of were under 12. However, one was an actual adult male. This was incredibly uplifting for me.

I think the new bike played a role in my modest success and I'm looking forward to riding it in the two remaining races of the series. The bike was just the catalyst for me to go faster, though, I still had to do it.

To end on a positive note, I'd like to recount the good things about today's race:

  • I didn't finish last!
  • I didn't crash. (unless the one during my practice lap counts)
  • I get to get a new bike.

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