So I rode a cross country mountain bike race yesterday. I had my ass handed to me by the Category 1 racers. I knew it was going to happen. I had no dreams of being on the podium. Okay, maybe I did imagine it one time, but I realistically knew that it was very unlikely. That is exactly why I was in the race class.
You really have to go for broke and let it all hang out to find your weaknesses and improve on them. Most people fear being last. I would much rather be last place with the big boys, than win playing it safe. It is just like beating up your little brother. You know you can do it. It makes you feel good to win. You get confidence in your ability. On the other hand, you never get better if you don’t face adversity. That is why you runs sprints, lift heavy weights, go farther.
It would have been no problem for me to go down a class and blend into the field. I looked at the times and I would have been mid pack, other than the last lap when my tire went flat. I could have finished, had a beer and chatted with the boys and then headed home. My times were consistent, my pacing was good, I just flat out didn’t have the power or skills those guys have. That is what I need to see. I wanted to know where I was at. It is easy to step down classes, throttle back when you get tired or when it gets hard and coast into the finish. I am not into taking the easy route. I will never race to collect medals. What I want is to grow. I want to grow as a person. Physically, mentally, spiritually.
I have no dreams of being a world class cross country racer. However, these types of races are a wonderful tool for me to become a better endurance/adventure racer. If I can increase my power and pace by 1% over the course of a few days of a bikepacking race, that is a huge spread in mileage. If my technical skills are stronger, I will use less energy climbing, descending and attacking obstacles. I will never get faster by taking the easy route.
I had some people get all butt hurt about one of my posts other post about race day. Some people assume I meant that if you weren’t first you were a loser. That is not what it is about. It is about pushing yourself to do things you never thought possible. I WAS LAST PLACE AND DID NOT FINISH! It was glorious. I learned. The taste was bitter in my mouth when the leaders were having a conversation climbing the first hill and pacing a couple miles an hour faster than me. I will be back again for more. The Wausau 24 hour is coming up quickly and I have lots to work to do before then.
Relentless forward motion.