This past weekend brought the final race, round #4, of the Live Train Race Series. The race was held in Grand Junction at the Canyonview Park Baseball Park. This was the same location as round #1 but the course was different this time around. Not only was there a lot less turns and technical features, the course was run in reverse.
It only took me one warm up lap to realize the course was less suited for a single speed than a geared bike. This didn’t fill me with good vibes as I already didn’t feel good. My stomach was upset and I hadn’t slept well the night before. It was a night filled with anxiety and fitful sleep. I didn’t let this get me down as I really wanted to win all four races in the series.
When I started warming up I still had my Carharts on over my kit, two pairs of gloves, cycling cap, a jacket and windbreaker. By race time I was down to my bibs, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. From the start of the race I had no idea how many were in my field. I went with my usual plan of riding as hard as I could and just try to win the whole thing. This week they had call ups so I was able to get a front row start. I placed myself against the right side so I only had one person to worry about beside me.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO! We were off. I settled into third and but soon that became fourth. The backside of the course was bone flat and I was at a huge disadvantage. A missed pedal from the third place rider after the barrier put me back in third for a short spell. At the end of lap two my arch rival Tom Hayles caught me and he was riding strong. He passed me right before the long flat section of the course and I wasn’t able to hang onto his wheel. I watched as Tom and the three Open A racers ride away, lap after lap.
The whole time I battled my stomach and lack of fitness. The fact that I hadn’t been riding for the last month was starting to show. I had rested on my laurels too long and now it was clear. I would race alone for the remainder of the race which left a lot of time to doubt myself. I sat in second and unless Tom had a crash or mechanical I would stay there. I still had no idea if there were other Masters in the race so I wasn’t even sure I was in second or if there were others coming from behind. When I saw there was four laps to go I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I dug deep and finished as strong as I could. I crossed the line being happy to finish but disappointed in my performance.
During the race the announcer talked about mechanicals and also kept calling me Mr. Consistency. When he saw I was off my game he assumed I had another mechanical. I had mechanicals at the first two races of the series. When I went by the finish line I let him know the mechanical was not with the bike but with me. I wanted everyone to know it wasn’t the bike or my mechanical skills that were to blame yet another time. I was fully prepared to admit my lack of fitness. I didn’t want to make any excuses. I was not the strongest rider on this day. I also got the impression that I finished second to Tom as that is what I heard over the loud speakers.
When it came time for the award ceremony they called up Mike Gettinger as the second place finisher. This confused me because Mike wasn’t second in the overall series and I had gotten second for the day. Next they called me up as the winner! I was totally confused. I asked if Tom should have been first, thinking I was second and Mike third. It turns out Tom had run the Open A and not the Master A. So I was indeed the winner on the day, had won all four races in the series and won the overall. I was thrilled at this but knew Tom was the stronger rider on the day.
I had a lot of fun racing again. I hung my racing wheels after the USGP in Portland back in December of 2010. Cyclocross racing on the Western Slope is just in it’s infancy compared to other areas. I hope to see it grow. There are a lot of great people at these events and strong riders. For now I’m going to enjoy the falling snow and hopefully soon do some nordic skiing and snow biking. The funny part of this whole story is I gave up racing because it was no longer fun and consumed too much of my time. The fact that this series is called the “Live Train Race” series is comical to me and my situation.
Get out there!