Disneyland of a course

“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, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

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.

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Post-race bruises

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.)

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