The Key To Being a Great Racer
Diana returned from a challenging race at Taconic 909, where she showed her true colors:
Ok…I want to write this while it is still fresh, but I am tired and sore so forgive me if I ramble.
Racing is not all about winning…tons of preparation and planning go into racing an entire season, not to mention keeping your bike and gear together. It takes a lot just to get there, training, making sure I have the time off of work, bike maintenance, etc.
I have been having mixed emotions about racing lately but I’ll save that for another day. I was reminded today however, of why I do it at the core. I lined up with the girls and noticed a girl from last year that I had a bit of a ‘verbal altercation’ with. She blocked me from passing on a technical descent for a while, despite me practically begging her to pass. I won’t go into detail but will say that although voices were raised, I never disrespected her. I’m sure I wasn’t on her ‘good list’ after that. Today I had a fairly uneventful first lap and felt pretty good going into my second although the course was really slick and I was beginning to have doubts about holding my lines. Heading into the first climb on the second lap, I see her…she looks to be struggling a bit. I catch her and offer words of encouragement as I pass, she thanks me.
I make my way through the course and head towards the sketchy downhill. I made it shakily the first time and was a bit nervous. There was (once again) someone at the bottom standing off to the right, this distracts me. I call out that I’m coming and shakily make it again, only to slip on a root 50 ft ahead. My front wheel washes out and I hit the deck, hard. I slide till I hit a tree, with my head. Shit. I have never hit my head. I get up and take off my helmet to check for a crack, it’s fine. I walk a bit, get back on and my girl comes up again and I let her by, easily, I’m still recovering from the crash. I motor on and find a groove again. I hit the next climb and there she is again, I stay a bit back not wanting to overdo it but think I may catch her. She enters the bottom of a technical climb and is suffering. I have two choices at this point. Call an ‘on your left’ and rip by, or help her. I start coaching her up the climb telling her to spin easy so she can nail the roots when she needs to. She does well for a bit but is really struggling. I ask to get by as I now have another with me. We get by her and wish her luck.
Had I been bitter about last year and decided to be a total bitch I would have saved my breath and nailed the climb. But it’s not about that. At the end of the day it’s about being HUMAN. We are all in this together, some people I fear are losing sight of that. Chicks that race mountain bikes are few and far between, we need to SUPPORT EACH OTHER.
I head into the descent happy that I am almost done. I work my way through and am feeling pretty good, enough to want to leave it all out there and begin to hammer home. Then I feel it, the back of the bike starts to get squirrelly, oh no. Do I have a flat??? I look back…SHIT. My rear tire loses air to the point I can’t steer. I grab a CO2 and throw it in. I ride it for a bit, flat again. I do this two more times, it’s useless. I have a little more than 1.5 miles left and decide I will NOT DNF, I’m running her out. I walk / jog the bike through the last twisty section and decide to get back on for the straight shot out of the woods and up the fire road.
I make it, albeit slowly, to the road. I immediately see familiar faces and am comforted. It had been a rough lap and I was so glad to be out of the woods. I keep her steady and roll to the top of the hill towards the finish. People begin to realize I am finishing on a flat and I gently guide her in to a round of applause and cheers from friends. I hear my name but am oblivious to who is standing there fearing I will lose control of my limping bike. I lay the bike down and take a minute.
You spend a lot of time alone training for and actually racing in this sport, but I could not do this without the support and camaraderie of all of my cherished friends. I know I’ve said it before, but I am truly grateful for this sport and all it has brought me. And my girl…thanked me for encouraging her, hopefully she’ll pay it forward. THIS is what racing is all about.
Diana: This is what makes you a great racer, and an even better person. Live Love Velo is proud of you!