I’d thought yesterday that I might write a serious post today, perhaps my thoughts on Charlotte Jay’s Beat Not the Bones, which I’m discussing with my mystery book group tomorrow and which I’d hoped to write about soon.
But — what was I thinking? I got up at 6 a.m., left the house at 7, arrived at my bike race around 8, stayed at the bike race until after 7 p.m., and only got home an hour or so ago. Crazy. The problem was that Hobgoblin’s race was sometime around 9 a.m. and mine was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., but it didn’t really start until 6. Last year we drove back and forth to the race course twice to avoid staying there all day, but this year we couldn’t bear the thought of all that driving and gas expenditure, so we brought some books, decided to take Muttboy at the last minute, made sure we had comfortable chairs, and settled in.
I thought I might get a lot of reading done, but it turned out I read only about three pages before I gave up and spent the rest of the day watching the races and talking with friends and fellow racers. In spite of the long hours, I had fun. The truth is, the social aspect of racing is at least as much fun as the racing itself — sometimes significantly more so.
As for my race, it was a bit of a mess. It was, to put it mildly, very poorly run. The race promoter decided to have three women’s groups, and to have them race separately, which makes sense, but to have them race separately on the course at the same time, which didn’t make any sense at all. So after the first group started (the Pro-1-2 field), the second group (Category 3) waited 30 seconds and then started, and then my group (Category 4) waited 30 seconds and then started. So there were three fields out on a mile-long course all at once.
I expected the Pro-1-2 field to catch up to us, but instead we caught up with the Cat 3 riders, the ones who are supposed to be faster than us. We passed them, although we probably shouldn’t have and it was confusing, but everything seemed okay until the Cat 3 riders caught up with us and wanted to pass, and then we couldn’t figure out which way to go to let them get by — people yelled out “move to the left!” and others yelled “on the left!” and others just yelled out “left!” which meant we had no idea where to go. They somehow managed to pass us safely, but it turned out there were three riders in my group that stayed ahead of them, so we spent the rest of the race unsuccessfully chasing.
In spite of the confusion and danger, I was riding well, staying up front most of the time and even riding at the very front for a little while, but on the last lap at the third corner I let some riders get ahead of me and I took the last corner too slow, and my sprint at the end didn’t do much. I ended up getting 14th place. It wasn’t a very good result, but I did get some practice riding near the front of the pack, practice I desperately need.
So yeah, it was a crazy day — not least because I spent much of the day thinking “I hate racing! — why do I do this???” but in the race itself I thought, “hey — this is okay, it’s not so bad” and after the race I thought, “how can I do that better next time?” In other words, I can’t decide whether I hate racing, love racing, or something in between. I think the truth is that as long as I continue racing, I’m going to continue agonizing about it. Something to look forward to, right?