Anyone who races on a regular basis knows that things don’t always go the way you want it to. Late or early start times, low quality course markings, sleepy corner marshals, mechanicals, and sometimes just plain old poor judgement can wreak havoc on even the most seasoned racers result. I have had very few mechanicals in the near 15 years I have been racing a bike. Really, I can only remember two that prevented me from getting to the finish line. A massive sidewall tear at the State Champs in 2006, and a busted derailleur in 2010 at the Fat 55. Now there is also the infamous “mental mechanical”. I can say I am pretty good at preventing these as well. But low and behold I had a doozy at the Coast Hills Classic a couple of weeks ago. I am not going to make excuses, I just gave up. My bike was working fine, the course was not overly technical or long, and I was just back of the lead group of six. But as I came around to finish the first lap I just pulled off and went home. The worst part that I came to realize later was that if I had just stuck it out and kept pedaling, I would have finished 3rd in the Elite class. Sure there were only three of us registered, but sometimes a podium is a podium and the $100 prize money would have more than covered my registration and gas for my trip out to the coast. The end result of all this is that I now know that I will never, EVER pull out of a race unless I am in danger of hurting myself physically. On a positive note…my teammate, Andy Olsson had a great race and started his season off with a win!
Flash forward to the Ashland Spring Thaw. I was really excited to race this years edition of one of my favorite races. There was a stacked Elite field for the XC race but I was confident that my time living and riding in Ashland would pay off in the end. I chose to rock my trusty Honzo for this race because I knew it’s slacker geometry would help me shred the downhill. I picked off several riders on the first decent and settled back into my rhythm for the climb back up. I battled my way up the climb again and was really excited about gettting another chance to rip the decent. But just as I started down the first 100 yards, BOOM! There goes my race. I managed to tear a big hole in my sidewall that no amount of sealant was ever going to fix and without a boot, no tube was going to fix. I was bummed, to say the least. But I remembered my experience at Coast Hills and decided to just grin and bear it. I made it down the 6+ mile decent on a rear flat without crashing. Now I was not happy about those turn of events, but I was happy that I did not give up. As it turns out I still managed to not get DFL! Better yet I finished 15th, which means I still earned 1 point! In the end all these experiences reminded me that we all toe the line because we love to ride and race our bikes. Good results are nice…but they are only part of the picture. Never give up, and remember to always have fun. This will be my mantra from now on. Next up…Return On The Jedi…May the force be with me!