“It is an essential tenet of Buddhism that we can begin to change the world by first changing how we look at the world.” ― Greg Boyle,
Going into Saturday’s USRA desert race in Lynndyl, Utah (population 106), I felt nervous for my first official desert race of the year, which I thought would be a regular 35-mile race until it turned out to be a 35-mile loop that the leaders would round three times while I toughed two out on a tear for over 3 hours…my poor bike.
After the start, it was a free-for-all battle, and I worked to pass of all those (guys) in my way who were faster in the wide-open sections but slower than a snail and off the gas through the tight stuff. Once I was alone on the trail, I started to fly, riding the dangerous skinny ridge trails, across soggy, off-camber, silt-covered climbs and bar-busting, arm-bruising woods, sprinting as much as I could, knowing I was missing knobbies on my tires, fearing I was going to wad at any moment. But the stars aligned and I made no mistakes on the first loop, which brought me more confidence coming into the second lap.
After the second of three check points on the second loop, the overall race leader lapped me, and I was inspired watching his rear tire wheel tap out of sight. Another leader caught and passed me, standing up the whole time. That’s about when the devil caught me, too: “Why are you doing this to yourself?” “This is torture!” “Why don’t you just slow down, or quit?” “You suck. You’re so far off their pace.”
I heard another four stroke in the distance except it was not approaching as fast. A few long, whooped-out straightaways later, I spot her W on the side numberplate and her long hair. The last thing I expected. I never saw her coming!
She passed me and pulled away as more guys caught up to us, leaving us in a pack while they worked passed. I kept her in sight, waiting fiercely for my window knowing I didn’t want to get beat. Once the desert sand sections ended (briefly), we got into another soft, soggy-bottom trail through these thick bushes, so I went for it, coming in hot behind her and setting up for a pass anytime soon. I’m not sure she realized it or cared because she didn’t try to out motor me. I skated by clean for a few more turns through the brush and then it was back into the whoops. I’m gassed at this point – some 65 miles into the race, so I tried holding on as long as I could, knowing she was back there, and she passed me a few miles before the finish; I was 17 seconds behind at the end. The worst part was not knowing I was in the lead for those first 60 miles, since that’s just about the time I let off the gas. Lesson learned.
Results: I finished second in my class and 104th overall with a total two-lap time of 3:23:04, 17 seconds behind the leader’s 3:22:47, compared to the overall race leader Joe Wasson’s three-lap time of 3:19:58. (He finished three laps faster than I finished two.)