Friday, May 20, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Did a little racing in Michaux over the weekend. The 20-miler. It was about all this mountain bike wimp could handle.
As I finished, pulling into the appropriate finishing chute and watching the scorers wipe the mud from my tag and post it on the board, someone asked me something...one of those comments that seems inane at face value but, in the appropriate context and bolstered by integrity*, holds value enough--something like, "How was your race?" or "How do you feel?" In response, I shrugged my shoulders and muttered, "It's what we do."
Bike racing: It's what we do.
Why do we race our bicycles? I don't know, it's just what we do. Why do we endure torrential rain in 40 degree weather (as at SoYoCo a couple of weeks ago)? I don't know, it's just what I do. Why the long winter rides in sub-freezing weather? Why the delayed yard work on Saturdays? Why the hours tinkering over drive trains? Why the money spent on all manner of gear, travel, registration? Why the strain on relationships and other commitments? Why all of it?
I don't know, it's just what we do... (And it feels really, really good when we do it.)
Riders understand. So did the dude who asked me the question.
Ok, enough poetry...
The Maximus 20-miler looked like this (the Garmin plot of someone who apparently finished just a few minutes behind me). I wish I had a picture of what my bike and I looked like after the 20-miler. You'll have to imagine... April had record-breaking precipitation. Much of the trail became run-off stream. Sometimes the trail was a stream. I didn't spend all of my time balanced on two wheels. There, that should give you an adequate picture.
Anyway, no great insights from the experience. Which is to say that I learned what I already knew--I'm a stronger rider than most, but I am easily out mountain biked by those that know what they're doing. In other words, I'm a pansy. Or a poser. But I still finished second in my age group (of 26) and fourth overall (of 84). And, as always, for reasons that continue to allude me, it feels downright awesome to ride faster than a lot of other good riders and a few really good ones...
Of course, the real talent was likely attracted to the 40-mile option (or Granogue). Another way to say that is if the 40-milers were racing the 20-miler, well, I wouldn't have fared so well. But I think the 40-mile option may have just done me in. It's not the five hours of riding, of course, it's rather what I'd be riding for five hours. Hats off to you off-road wizards. I'm ever in awe of your mad mtb skills...
The sorest part of my body today? Triceps.
* When I say "integrity," I mean to use the word in the sense David James Duncan uses it here, but with the volume turned down a bit, as it were:
Language has vertical limits. Not just any speaker can pack up his speech and tote it at will to a higher elevation. Where there is a will, there is as often a major embarrassment as there is a way. Like a gymnast on parallel bars, the speaker or writer who successfully conveys exaltation must possess sufficient mental muscle to hoist himself above the level of everyday verbiage without appearing to strain. Again, like the gymnast, he must be able to lift himself, all by himself. It is not speech coaches and writers, height of pulpit, number of advanced degrees, thickness of thesaurus, histrionic techniques, or any such contrivance that truly lifts language: it is personal integrity. It’s the ability to imbue one’s words with the physical momentum, intellectual clarity, and psychic depth that only the actual deeds of a life can provide. If Martin Luther King Jr. in his Lincoln Memorial Speech of 1963 had said, “In my heart I know I’m right,” and if President Nixon, in his resignation speech a decade later, had said, “I have a dream,” the world would have remembered King’s heart and forgotten Nixon’s dream. It is not just the words that make words memorable.
at 3:12 PM