Sometimes you just have a target on your back. Literally. And when it's a big ugly block M on a maize and blue jersey, it's particularly volatile. Unfortunately for him, but really due to his own poor choice of clothing, that's exactly what happened to this guy at the Kisscross night race a couple weeks ago.
I got to the race venue in time to ride a practice lap. It was raining and chilly—that seems to be typical race weather lately—but once I started warming up I felt pretty good and was actually glad I hadn't dressed any more warmly.
As the race began my legs were a little sluggish. I started feeling a little discouraged. I was hoping this wasn't going to be another Kisscross season like the last two. Pretty soon everyone was ahead of me. But then it happened. I saw my target. His hideous jersey was like a magnet. I had to beat that guy. No matter what else happened during the race, I just had to do it.
I finished the first lap with two goals in mind—concentrate on my dismounts and remounts and beat the guy in the U of M jersey. I started to speed up and continued my quickened pace as I moved closer to my target. My dismounts and remounts weren't perfect; some were a little premature, but the were much improved from my first cyclocross race of the season.
The dismounts and remounts are always a challenge for me. No matter how much I practice them, during a race I always panic as soon as I get to the barriers and end up just getting off the bike the regular way. During this race, however, I was almost flawless in dismounting correctly. I did get momentarily distracted during the last lap when some people I wasn't expecting started cheering for me, but other than that, I did well.
During the third lap, I finally caught up with the guy in the U of M jersey. I got a little bit ahead of him and pushed myself to stay that way for the final laps of the race.
In the end, I only beat two people, but I was really pleased with the race. I beat that Michigan guy, but not only that, I kept up the intensity for the entire race. I don't think I've done that since my first season of Kisscross.
Between this race and my 5k experiences this year, it should now be fairly obvious to me that the thing I need to do to have a successful race is to find one or more people I want to beat and spend the entire race trying to make that happen. The competitive drive and spirit motivates me and keeps me going.