Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Best Race Ever

For a few years, in the mid-90s, I did a bit of mountain bike racing on a pretty regular basis.  Tony Costarella and I would race most of the Winter Park Series, each summer, plus I would hit a few other races as the opportunities showed up.

The final race of the Winter Park Series was always the Tipperary Creek race.  The course was different than the course which was used for the rest of the series.  Rather than doing a number of laps around a loop on the ski resort, the Tipperary Creek course was a 26-mile point-to-point, which ended at the base of the ski hill.

The Start Line was at the softball field in Fraser, a few miles down the highway.  So, most of us who were racing parked at the resort, then rode the highway over to Fraser, maybe 5 miles down the road.  It made for a good warmup before the race started, and the race ended near the car, that way.

The second year that we did the race, Tony and I rode to the start, together, then made plans to meet up at the resort, after we finished.  Tony typically got away from me pretty quickly in these races, and would wait for me near the Finish Line.  He is an ex-pro bmx racer, and had about 4% body fat, at the time.  So, I was always a little out-gunned on the trail.

The gun went off, and we all took off.  The course went down a dirt road for a couple hundred yards, turned left on to singletrack, and then immediately started climbing.  I was feeling the altitude, pretty badly, for some reason, that morning. 

About halfway up the climb, I threw up.  I managed to keep the vomit off of myself, but the guy I was passing was not so lucky.

"Sorry!"  I gasped, as I continued on.  Throwing up had made me feel 100% better, and I actually picked up the pace as the climb continued.

The rest of the race was a fun ride.  I was feeling good, my legs were snappy, and my stomach was finally happy.

I got to the finish, and sprinted through the gate, as the announcer called my name and number.  I was mid-pack, again, and happy about that.  Mid-pack in a 100-person race is about all I ever hoped for.  Lots of the other guys actually trained for racing, whereas I raced in order to check my fitness level.

I looked around for Tony, but I couldn't find him.  I grabbed a beer and, hung around at the Finish Line.  I figured Tony had heard my name, and would probably come looking for me.

Half an hour later, I heard a surprising announcement over the loudspeaker, "Coming in to the finish...Number 263, Tony Costarella!"

I had actually beaten Tony to the finish, and by a pretty large margin.

"Did you have a flat?  Mechanical problems?"  I asked Tony, as he got off his bike.

"What?  How did you get here?"  Tony was as surprised as I was that I had beaten him.  He hadn't had any mechanical problems, I had just out-ridden him.

No matter where I was in the overall standings, I felt like I had won the race.  I should throw up on the bike, more often.


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