September 17, 2009

Thrilla #3 - A Crash Course

A trace of road rash and a couple of holes in my skinsuit, a bruised ego, a bit of humility, and a 6 pack of 20” Brown.

This week’s Thrilla was, for me, strangely, the best race thus far in the series.  I learned a couple lessons that had not yet been on the syllabus.

I got off the line first, got too excited, tried to put space between myself and the rest of field too soon, got carried away and went down hard, on an uphill, climbing out of the pit – on the first lap.  How does one hit the deck on the uphill, you ask?  Loose Oregon moon dust, an aggressive out-of-the-saddle surge, and bam, I went down.

The short lead I had vanish as I tried to get my chain going, bending my right brake lever back, and tried in vain to regain my composure.

Five or six girls cruised by me as I spun my cranks and slowly began to make way up and out of the pit.  Now it was my turn to chase.  For a lap and a half I chased.

I made a lot of mistakes, gripping too tightly to my handle bars, riding stiff and unbalanced.  My right butt cheek started to sting and I almost lost it going around the 180 right before the barriers. 

Get it together Bishop.  

I knew I wasn’t riding well and then I saw Don out of the corner of my eye.
“Relax, calm down, calm down, you’re okay.”
I am not sure if these were his exact words, but this is what I heard. 

Around the corner and again I heard him,
“Be smart, take is slow, you got it.”
Don’s words hit home, I was able to relax a bit, accelerate out of the next corner and get my composure back – finally.  I took a deep breath.  I was riding in second place.

You can catch her, just be patient and ride smart.

By the next lap, I was back in the lead, but I didn’t know by how much.  I was still a little shaky and making small mistakes.  Don was there again,
“You have a good lead, just be smart, ride smooth.”
Again his words resonated with me and I finally began to feel comfortable on the saddle.

Three or four laps remained in the race and I rode then all a little better than the last.  I hammered up and out of the pit each lap like it was the last and my legs burned something awful.  Amazing thing though, if you just keep pedaling, the lactic acid somehow flushes out and you can do it all over again.

I crossed the finish line, relieved. 

First crash of the season; out of the way.  I crashed hard and I will undoubtedly do it again.  The key is to know how to recover, how to get yourself back together and get back on the saddle.  This I am just learning this and tonight I got the crash course.

With wounds scrubbed out, skinsuit awaiting repair, and belly full, my mind wanders to the weekend.  Star Crossed and Rad Racing Grand Prix are on the agenda.  Matt and I will make our way north to race with the big kids for two days of all-star rosters.  I am in way over my head, but what the heck, you have got to start somewhere and why not learn from the best.