Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let the LIVESTRONG Rumpus Begin.. and end... dear gawd, end!

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.)

But it was great fun. I will say, since I'm still nursing my back to health, the more roadie-like course didn't do my back and favors, so, while I placed 3rd in my class, it should be fairly noted there were only 3 riders in my class. However, to my credit, given how I was feeling by the last lap (I was aching for a percacet and had to have 3 ice packs loaded into my rear pockets by a medic upon entering back into the woods), I could have quit, but I didn't. Lance's voice chanting, "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever" kept running through my very muddy and wet head. I channeled Ted King, after participating in this year's Giro d'Italia in G-d-forsaken conditions (and an exposed bum). I remembered reading Joao Correia's blog about what it was like to pull out of a race early this year, but after giving it all he had. I envisioned George Hincapie in the infamous Paris-Roubaix photo - so caked with mud, that it looks like a funky black and white photograph.

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.

So, I got lapped by my own son. And the next class of riders. And my friend, Sean Drew, who started almost an hour after me. (Who, being the good guy he is, cheered me on as he swept past me. Either that, or he was telling me to "get a move on" to get out of his way - but I took it as encouragement.)

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/

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