This past Sunday, the kids and I rode EFTA's Big Ring Rumpus - our first mountain bike race. Bill Medlin was my LIVESTRONG sponsor for this event, and the kids and I all raced on the Trek Bicycle Store of Fairfield team. LIVESTRONG had a subtle, but clear presence, with a LIVESTRONG vehicle (driven by one of the event organizers, it would appear), wristbands, and various items. Surprisingly, I was the only one wearing a LIVESTRONG helmet and chamois, but, what can you do?
To get an idea of the course (though not my pace), check out this video by one of the Gary Fisher 29er crews:
For a novice mountain-biker, and roadie, this course was perfect. In theory, at least. I didn't have to worry about technical elements or nutty descents, though there was one really dicey turn, and the pace-slowing tape maze at the end was somewhat confusing and, well, confusing for me to navigate. (First time around, I went through the finish premature and was redirected back onto the course.)
And when that didn't work, I thought of LIVESTRONG. I remembered my friends across the world currently fighting cancer. And I felt my legs turn with more aggression. My friend, Lindsay, who came out of a coma, with a smile and a heart of gold. And the hill where I had to pause before going over it (and it wasn't a big hill) on the previous lap swiftly ran under my tires. I thought of Tal, and I saw the finish line in between the raindrops, remembering the mountain-biking tip that you always look at what you're aiming at - not what you're trying to avoid - even when the finish was still 2 miles away. I ignored the obstacles. I just looked ahead. I pushed against a front brake pad that was locked in place, adding even more resistance than the mud, pine needles and driving rain were creating.
But I came to the finish. And, amid the cheers and clapping from my kids, my son shouted, "LIVESTRONG!"
For more photos from the event, go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39868920@N05/sets/72157624223523522/