Thursday, October 22, 2009

We'll Call It the Race From Hell

Last Sunday, after a long day of going upstairs and downstairs and upstairs and downstairs all day long cleaning out the attic and the basement, I drove to Caledonia for some Kisscross. There was no doubt that I was tired and my legs were sore from all the stair action, but I felt decent when I started warming up. I was a bit uncomfortable given the fact that I couldn't find my tights anywhere and I was wearing my only pair of knickers (the same ones my beagle chewed a big hole in the butt of) with bike shorts. The place where the hole was was rubbing and the double chamois wasn't doing me any favors either. But all in all, I thought I would have an okay race.

I was excited after how competitive the last Kisscross race was, so I did something similar—I picked someone in the lineup I wanted to beat and I thought it would help motivate me. (And no, she wasn't wearing pink.) The race started and I hung off the back like I usually do, but I wasn't separated from the pack. I took the first hurdles okay, but there were too many people right in front of me to get close to them. My form needs a bit of work still, but it is definitely much better. 

Not even halfway into the first lap, disaster struck. (I know that will sound melodramatic, given what actually happened, but it was the beginning of a chain of frustrating events, which made it worse.) I was going down an extremely rooted downhill in a wooded section. As I started up the next hill, I tried to pedal and nothing happened. I had dropped my chain and spent a considerable amount of time trying to get it back on. 

By the time I got out of the woods, I couldn't see anyone in front of me and I think part of me gave up at that point. Still, I kept riding and promptly wiped out when I took a slippery corner too wide. When I got up, my brake was rubbing pretty bad and I stood there for a while trying to fix it. 

At this point, I was starting to get a bad attitude. I kept riding, but I was far behind everyone. I started getting lapped during my second lap. I had two more wipeouts in corners. One happened just as some riders were going past to lap me. One of them yelled "hang in there," which I took okay, but the other one said "careful." I didn't say anything, but I was seething. I guess that says something about where my attitude was. Things that normally would have sounded encouraging just sounded condescending and patronizing.

Another low point came when I was going through a set of chicanes near the end of the lap. Our friend Frank was on the sidelines cheering when he saw his 9-year-old son gaining on me. I have talked about Billy here before and we all know he's awesome, but Frank was cheering for him to lap me and I just felt demoralized.

Little did I know, the worst humiliation was yet to come. I rode my fifth lap with all the other racers off the course. There were however, some racers pre-riding for the next race, which they're not supposed to do. I snapped at one guy who acted like I was in his way. Apparently he didn't know I was still racing because he seemed contrite after he found out, but I just sounded like a huge jerk anyway.

I know I say this all the time, but I have never wanted to quit a race so badly before. It was absolutely the worst race I have ever had, hands down. Still, I somehow made myself keep going all the way to the mortifying finish. When I got to the very end, I came up a hill and saw that the racers were already lined up for the next race. Someone yelled for them to get out of the way and they started parting, Red Sea-like, in the middle so I could ride through them to the finish line. As I was riding through, they all started clapping and cheering. I wanted to disappear. 

Now if that had been my first race, or even my second, I might have found that encouraging. Given the circumstances, I just felt demoralized and embarrassed. 

All that said, there were some good things that happened during this race. Unfortunately, this post is far too long and I am going to be late for work, so I'll have to talk about them later. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is much more interesting than the way you told it at the club.DG