If ever there is a time to finally “get it together”, the last race of the season seems like a solid starting point. Ending a lack-luster season on a high note was my main goal entering the weekend, and it was partially relieving and partially exciting to have accomplished this minor, but important goal. 2014 has been my 10th year racing. I carried expectations of myself, but at the same time, a little wiser than years past, I made sure to be realistic with what I was aiming to do. Training harder than ever before, adjusting to setbacks, and carrying on through the rougher parts of the summer, I think I managed to salvage what had been a pretty shitty season, results-wise.
|This was the first big drop I’d ever hit, and now a decade later, it’s barely a thing.|
Racing is unpredictable and it will eat you up and spit you out without hesitation. I’ve come close to throwing in the towel for good in the past, even after taking a full season hiatus in 2012. I was still having fun flying down the mountain on my bike, but the fire for racing was flickering and not as strong as it once was; I had to regroup and “find the fun” all over again. Even if it meant only racing the five events I deemed interesting enough to attend, losing a lot, and generally struggling to find pace, I was determined to not give up on myself and the sport I deeply care about.
With the kind words of friends and fellow racers ringing in my ears, I got into the gate on Sunday for my last race run of the year, and I felt great. Race jitters were waning as the clock counted down, I felt confident, and I knew I could have the run I wanted – all I needed to do was execute, and execute I did. Across the finish line, and I received praise for a “solid time” and for being “in the mix”. I’d finished 6 seconds off of first, back in 15th, but on pace nonetheless. One of the most tightly contested races of the year, and I’d finished right in the mix with a a well-paced, but slightly conservative run – that felt great. Knowing I still have what it takes to race and be competitive is an excellent footnote to bring with me into the off-season. I’m chasing the sun this Winter, so hopefully this is just a second wind coming around for another great summer of riding bikes!