Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reminiscing, My First Race

1st ever race...and winning!
 After my finish at Warrior Creek last week, I was recently reminiscing about my first real race, a race I surely will never forget.  While the January Mountain bike Marathon was my first mtb event.  The XC race at Little River in 2009 (part of the Triangle XC Series) was my first official race.  Naturally, I was so nervous the night before, I had a tough time sleeping.  Plus it had rained pretty good the day and night before the event so many thought it might be canceled.  Still, I got up early and drove out to the trials (north of Durham) to see what I could do.  I remember registering and seeing that the 'Beginner >35" was the largest category.  Great!  More of a chance to embarrass myself.  I actually inquired about dropping down to the <35 category, as there were only ~8, and an 8th place finish sounded a lot better than 17th.  Well, Andy Etters (who put on the event) convinced me to stay in my category, which I did.  Being my first race, it was nice to see so many loose riders at the start, it helped calm the nerves...a little.  And We're Off!  Man, people jumped out of the gate fast.  I had a tough time clipping in, and the next thing I know, most of the riders are ahead of me, and flying!  I knew I could not keep up with that pace so I accepted that I would plug along and just do the best I can.  Funny, but it only took the first log crossing to catch up to several riders.  Someone stopped for it and created a back log.  Next thing I know I am passing some guys...then as I continue, I began passing a few more guys who obviously went out too fast...I was relieved that I did not try to stay with them, or that could have been me struggling for air as we work up a steady climb.  By the time the first lap was over, I realized that if I could just keep my pace, I would finish in the top half, and thus not embarrass myself, sweet!  As the second lap began I passed another couple riders and then found I was riding by myself.  I eventually passed one more rider who was stopped by the side of the trail, seemingly messing with their helmet?!?  No time to stop and chat...I started pushing as hard as I could knowing that this was it!  I came up on the heels of another rider, with maybe a mile or less left.  He asked what category I was in.  Turns out he was in a category that started a minute or two ahead of mine.  He said, "I think you are in first, no one else has passed me in >35".  Upon hearing that, a surge joy came through me.  I passed him and hammered it to the line as hard as I could.
Unbelievable.  The first race I had ever entered, I had won.  I was dumbfounded, but little did I know, it would be the last race I would ever win.
The guy I passed on my final lap (messing with his helmet), Kurt Dressler (one heck of a nice guy), would beat me in the next two races (Tarwheel & Huck a Buck).  I would then cross ahead of him at Harris Lake where we both moved up to Sport, just for helped that he got caught up in a misdirection mishap early in the race.  And then he beat me at the Championship race at Beaver Dam...but in my defense, I was coming off not riding for a couple weeks thanks to the Swine Flu and ended up 4th.  Still, nothing can take away that first race and that only victory.  Something I will never forget. 

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