This past Sunday I raced my second race of the season at the Iron Hill Challenge in Newark, DE. At 11am, myself and 39 other Cat 2 racers set off for two, seven mile laps of slippery single track. It had rained the night before the race. Greasy roots and rocks made for slow going through the woods and gave cause for sticking your face out over the bars going through those sloppy turns to try to get some extra traction over the front wheel. At times, the mud was so thick, that I found myself in my granny gear, rocking my body fore and aft, just to maintain the little bit of forward momentum I had.
The start was fast and loud, knobby tires rumbled over the stretch of gravel road before we bottle-necked into some grassy single track. I entered the single track around 12th position. I held on to the fast pace for as long as I could but then fell back and settled in around 20th. I wasn’t confident that I could keep the pace I set and before long I was rolling along just fast enough to keep racers from trying to pass me, though when they wanted to, I moved over to let them by. About ¾ through the first lap, I was feeling zapped. I had gone out too hard in the beginning.
At one point the course traversed a steep V shaped ravine. Straight down and straight up! Spectators gathered around this point and cheered on the racers, which was awesome and encouraging. When I got to this section, I was exhausted, but also amped-up by the cheering and so I gave it everything I had to try to make it to the top of the other side. I hopped off the bike nearly at the top and ran the last few feet of trail before hopping back on and sprinting away. At this point, I felt my guts turning over. There was definitely some big trouble in little China! Before I knew it, I was heaving and blowing chunks all over my right arm as I tried to projectile vomit the eggs and bacon I ate at the rest stop on Route 95 a couple of hours earlier. Note to self: No more rest stop breakfasts. I can still see the little yellow bits of scrambled eggs splattered atop the trail-side leaves and twigs – nasty!Puking from exertion is nothing new to me, though it has been a few years since it’s happened. I accredit it to my lack of training and piss-poor diet.
After a few minutes of rolling along at a snail’s pace I was feeling better and said to myself, once again, let’s just turn this race into a training ride. And so on I rode. Though, little by little I felt stronger and stronger, faster and faster, and soon, about a ¼ way through the second lap, I was feeling great. Racy even! I delighted in the fact that the super swampy sections seemed to have dried out just a skoach! I hopped up and cocked my bike to the side off of a little 10” drop-off. I manualled a little roller section and I had fully left my self-loathing, vomitous state and re-entered the joyous land of the living, the competitive; the racing! I even passed a couple of people. Wow, maybe I can place in the top 20! I carried on, turning the cranks, which turned my wheels, which turned my day into part of a fantastic weekend. Podium or not, I’m glad to be racing this season. I came in 22nd in a group of 40 racers.