Saturday, November 05, 2005

My first bike race

For thoese of you who might not know, I like to ride my bicycles from time to time. I've got a purple road bike, and I've also got a hybrid, purchased for me by my GF, back a few years ago. I'd take the purple bike out on road rides, and I always ride with some people so that I wouldn't get lost.

There's a bike shop in downtown Leavenworth and the owners of the shop have been very nice to me, and they are true lovers of the sport of cycling. Many of his customers are the grad. students at the officer grad. school on post. These officers and very competitive and going on rides with them would always end with me finishing last. Not being competitive in nature, I didn't mind it, what I did mind was that most of the riders were sort of stand-offish, if you said hi to them, no gurantee that they'll even pay attention to you. So I stopped riding with them for a while.

Shift forward a few months, another class of army grad. students have started class, and the weather is also getting colder as fall approaches. I went back to the bike shop to say hello and get my bike tuned. (I've been riding around the military post from time to time, by myself, it's lonly, but I don't really have to deal with egos.)
The owner of the shop then planted the seed in my head that I should try to at first, ride 25 miles with another group of people (You could read about that in the previous entries), and then enter myself in a cyclecross race, since it'll be "fun" and "easy".

I dragged my GF and the dog after breakfast this morning, and we headed to the local high school. We got there and saw so many racers, all well equipped with their thousand dollars bikes and cycling attires. I've got my cut-off bdu shorts, long sleeve shirt and helmet. I hastly got registered, paid a small fee (the cycling federation has to find a way to make some $), and ran to get my bike to the starting line.

There were only two people in my catagory, the beginners, while the rest are experienced racers, and from what I've heard, they came from just about everywhere, not just Kansas and Missouri.

What did I do on the first downhill? I flipped over my handlebar and hit my head, knee, thigh, and ab on the grassy ground. The GF saw everything and wondered why didn't I just quit, I thought that might be too melodramatic, so I opted to stay in and finish the race, even though my bike was wrecked and I had to carry my bike or walk most of the course, taking the bike downhills and riding the flat part.

I thought that I was bledding from my head, since blood and sweat sort of tasted the same, of course, I didn't have time to care, there were a lot of panting and re-tasting of breakfast to do, aside from trying to finish the race.

I was done after 2 laps around the course, and at 23 minutes, there were pretty much no more time for me to do another lap (are you kidding?) I grabbed the free water and gatorade from the sponsor's cooler.

I did get a medal, not because I was fast, not because I had the most spectacular fall (there wasn't a catagory like that), but for the very fact that there were only two people in my catagory.

Still I was proud of my battle wounds, and gaining the knowledge of what a cyclocross race was like. (Like a cross-country bike race) Would I do it again? Maybe, eventually, and this time with my bike better tuned.

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