There's nothing like the hard effort of racing, it's more than just a mountain bike ride, which in itself is great. But the exertion of raciing just intensifies the experience and gives one a sense of accomplishment that would be hard to achieve on the weekly group spins.
What's more, it's even better when you ride well, or as well as you think you can. The Sundance race on Saturday was one of those days for me. A good sized field of 18 riders in the 40+ Sport Class, so plenty of competition and Jay and Reed were there to really push my limits.
Reed Topham started a row or two back but that didn't slow him down in coming to the front and sprinting up the hill in first place. Jay was close behind and three other riders got by me before we hit the dirt. As we headed downhill to Archie's, Mike Broadbent almost missed the turn and it allowed two other riders, and me trailing, to get by him. There were gaps in the field and other racers mixed in and no way to pass on Archies, so we just had to push the best we could and try to stay in contact with the two leaders. When we hit the road after coming out up from Flathead I went by the two other riders and pushed hard to close the gap on Jay, by the downhill I was on his wheel and followed him all the way to the base, we also got close to Reed, enough so that on switchbacks I was letting him know we were after him, he says "smack talk" I say playful taunting. I knew very well I wouldn't be able to hold on once we hit the road. Sure enough within 30 yard on the pavement the gaps reformed and Reed was off the front with Jay in between us. I kept pretty good contact with Jay and could even see him on the last road climb, but only caught glimpses of Reed. I did my best to make up time on Jay on the downhill and wasn't too far back on the final road climb. I thought I could hold 3rd, but on the downhill I saw Mike making up time. He had been slowing closing the gap the whole 2nd lap, recovering from his early mistake. When we hit the road I pushed, but had to drop into a pace and hope it would be enough. It wasn't. He came up, went around my left side and tried to leave. I jumped on his wheel determined not to give up the spot so close to the finish. As we rounded the last bend the speed picked up even more and it was going to be a hard sprint. I was already tapped out but stood up and pushed hard to get by. I heard Mike shifting gear, but it was too late and I got a bike length on him before we hit the line. Probably the most exciting and hard fought finish I've ever had in a race. I'm just glad I didn't give up and sit down and take 4th place.
Like most things in life it takes effort to succeed, you have to fight just a little harder at times to accomplish your goals. Why this principle is so hard to transfer into daily activites is hard to understand. I guess it's a matter of desire. How bad do you want to win the business, get the basement done, teach your kids to ride their bikes. It all takes effort and sometimes you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone to make it happen. I hope I can do that more often, not just in racing, but in every aspect of my life.