The 6th and final race of my first and probably last season of participation in the Georgia State Championship mountain bike racing series is now finished. I raced in the 40+ beginners class. My goals for this experience were not lofty, but I am proud to say that I met them all. I wanted to enter 6 of the 8 races in the series. Done. I wanted to finish every race I started. Done. And I wanted to be ahead of at least one other finisher in each race. Done (barely).
What I have gained from this experience, other than a sense of accomplishment:
I am a better, stronger, more skillful MTB rider than before.
I have learned that I can push myself harder and endure more pain than I thought I could.
I have found some great places to ride that I want to go back for fun rides.
I have gained a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that racers make. It is hard and painful and it takes special people to excel at it.
I have enjoyed the camaraderie of my teammates and other racers. Everyone is very supportive of each other without regard to how competitive they might be. Really great people.
I have enjoyed the success of some of my teammates. One of our riders finished 3rd in today's race in the single speed class, thus winning 1st place in that class for the season. His wife won today's women's sport class race putting her in 2nd for the season.
I have earned the purchase of a new bike at "team discount" (about 30 % below list).
I can now say that I have done that and won't feel the need to do it again.
I do realize that I am not cut from the cloth that successful racers are. Even to the extent that I have the innate ability and talent, I don't really have the dedication to make the sacrifices of time, money and pain that it takes to do your best at this sport. I had fun, but not enough to want to keep doing it. I may do a race here and there, but I don't see myself becoming a regular. I would rather spend my weekends doing long road rides than MTB races. I missed too many of my favorite organized rides and centuries this year, one of them today in Covington.
I hope I'm not sounding too negative because I really did have a good time and I'm glad I did it. But it just ain't really my thing, not enough to make it worth me doing again. Right now I'm just tired and sore.
Here are some pictures from today's race. It was brutally hot! We were lucky that my class rode in the first wave starting at 9:30am. It was humid and 85F when I finished. The second wave started at 11:30am. By the time they were done it was approaching 100F!
I did two 7 mile laps in 99 minutes and change. I was 18th of 20 riders in my class. 31 minutes behind the winner, 10 minutes behind the guy ahead of me and 5 minutes ahead of the guy behind me. The course started with a mile of open, grassy field to spread the field and then went into a fast, flat to mildly rolling, twisty narrow trail in a pine tree forest with just a couple of short climbs. Then at about 5 miles there was a gnarly steep climb with roots and turns followed by a mile of rough downhills, climbs and turns. Then it was fast and flat again for the mile to the finish.
My race face at the starting line
And we're off
And there we go
Coming out of the woods after the first lap
Refueling going into the 2nd lap
Approaching the finish
Coming through the finish gate
Drink up, you're going to need it
Whoo boy! That was hard!