Another short-track race, another three laps. Let's just get that out of the way at the start. I admit that a part of me wishes I knew how to increase the number of laps I'm capable of completing in a short-track race; but since I don't know how to do that I must be content with simply being able to go out there and finish strong.
Racing seems to be something really hard that I do on purpose, just because it's really hard. So when I finish my three measly laps, red-faced and breathless and feeling like I want to puke, I remember that it's really hard and am mostly content. Last night, I did not use my inhaler once, in spite of the dust that flew across the entire course and made my lungs absolutely burn; another small victory of sorts. This morning I am still coughing from the dust. I also managed to climb every berm on the course at least twice (though I did have to get off and push to the top of the two tallest on my final lap because I was so spent), and cleaned every transition and off-camber feature on every lap. Another small victory. I have to take them where I can find them.
Sweetie came to watch -- I could her hear yell for me pretty much anywhere I was on the moto section -- as did Pal Heintz, who was fascinated by the action on the course. Last night's course was laid out in a manner that allowed spectators to see most of the action in all three parts of the course (moto, singletrack and "back forty") from the stands. Heintz asked me after my race why I enjoyed doing something that was so obviously hard. I thought about it, and these were my reasons:
a. I couldn't do this kind of stuff as a kid, when I was struggling with almost-daily fatigue without knowing why. Even marching band was hard back then. Now that I know how to live with what's going on, I can get stronger and push myself to do the things I wish I could've done when I was younger.
b. Since I'm not a kid anymore, I do lose speed, but I make up for it in the pleasure I get from handling my bike in the dirt. My muscle memory from the BMX riding of my childhood returned surprsingly quickly in my first season of racing and has been the primary source of real pleasure I get from doing this. Every time I manage to clean some tricky feature it's like "winning" for me.
c. It's an incredibly welcoming and social activity. I have met some of nicest people in bicycling in my local race scene; and I am really enjoying being part of a local team who all cheer loudly for each other. (And we yelled a LOT last night.)
I encouraged Heintz to consider giving it a try. In spite of my misgivings about always finishing in last place, I told him, it's still a LOT of fun.
(photos by Tomas and Audrey)
On the tricky transition, being lapped by my teammate Kristin (who raced the double -- Cat 3 women AND Womens' Singlespeed! Such a MONSTAH! -- last night):
Coming out of the transition. It was "Casual Night" so racers were encouraged to eschew lycra in favor of mellower attire:
And yes, that's a safety orange triangle seemingly growing out of my rear end. Most of us at Team Slow have adopted this marker to make us easier to spot on the course, at least until our team kit arrives (though I may just leave my triangle in place anyway since I AM so, well, slow). Also note the DC socks, worn in honor of Pal Judi and her ongoing inspiration.
Race results: fifth place, Womens' Singlespeed. I must remember that placing last, especially in a singlespeed category, is still much, much better than not finishing at all. And it was thrilling to watch my teammates push themselves on a technically tricky course. In retrospect it really was a pretty darned good night of racing for me and for Team Slow. (The glass of delicious Steelhead beer afterwards at the Red Fox didn't hurt, either.)
Team Slow results on the night can be found here.