Thursday, August 5, 2010

making sense, is it?

where it begins and ends...

It seems funny to talk about what I'm going to do. Setting myself up, I sometimes think. What if it doesn't come off as planned? What if I really mess it up. What if it sucks? Ah! Guess I'd better fill you in. I'm doing a race this weekend. What? Yes, me. I know, but here we go:

You’ve heard me before: I’m not a racer. Not at heart. When I go out on rides, I like to stop. Smell the air; take some photos; chat with people at intersections, examine the plants and look for wildlife. I can ride pretty far when I feel like it and when an adventure necessitates it. But if you’re looking for one of the fastest mountain biking women in town, don’t look my way... Yet the big weekend I told you about earlier this summer is upon us. A Saturday I’ve looked to with excited nervousness.

The Soggy Bottom 100 mountain bike race begins at 9 a.m. at the Seaview Cafe & Bar in Hope. How many more hours until I ride my leg, the final 36-miles of the race? At minimum, maybe 9 hours. It all depends on how fast the first two riders can tackle the early legs. Petra is young and a strong rider, used to challenging, long rides. She gets the first and longest leg: about 44 miles from downtown Hope to Cooper Landing. After that, Wendy (who is closer to my age) will take on the next 27-plus miles, which includes the sometimes-steep climb up from Cooper Landing, then cutting down to Devil’s Creek trailhead where I’ll be waiting, ready to go.

Last night we went to what could loosely be called a pre-race meeting, set up by the organizers. The three of us discussed our legs; the mileage and what kinds of goals we had set for ourselves. I reminded them that their goals should be for me to not have to ride in the dark! (I kid... kind of.) It’s certainly possible given the right trail conditions, no mechanicals and some powerful efforts. After that, it will be up to me.

I have been training. Not putting in super long rides, but in the last week I've done three rides that were in the 20-ish mile range with lots of climbing and minimal stopping. After starting the season with a good base, I think my body is ready...

Meanwhile, I’ve been charging, running and recharging my headlamp battery, cycling it enough times to assure that I’ll have more than enough battery life so I’m ready in case we do run low on daylight. I know I can do my leg, Devil’s back to downtown Hope, in under 5 hours. When Jon and I rode it in July, we were on the trail for under 6, including walking through snowfields and stops to eat, take photos and chat with people along the trail. Four hours would be fast for me, but you never know... there might just be a little competition in me.
new cassette... okay, I also like that it has the gold
body to go with the pedals and derailleur.

The bike is ready: Jon has tuned my ride, replacing a worn cassette (how did I bend my cogs?!) and re-greasing my rear hub and my pedals. I’ve gathered my gear; thought about what to wear; what food to bring; decided where to carry my bear spray. Just a few final preparations, then we depart Friday evening so that we can wake at our friends' cabin in beautiful Hope and visit with people before the race starts. I’m as ready as I can get with just two days to go. Is that why I’m a bit nervous?

Some people go into races trying to learn something about themselves. I don’t think I’m going to discover any deeper meaning of life out there - that's for the people who do the race solo. I don’t expect this is going to make me a better person. It’s a challenge. Just to see how I can do if I push myself just a bit more than I typically do. And a challenge to see if I can get into Hope before darkness falls in the small town on the south side of Turnagain Arm.

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