|A great section of flowy descent with banked corners at the Utah State Championship Race|
Last weekend I finally got to stay home and race...well sort of. I only had to drive one and a half hours to race instead of the twelve hour trip we've done routinely over the last month or so. A new, well-organized, and fun series known as the Utah Championship Series launched its first race last Saturday at Lambert Park in Alpine, Utah. It was a circuit-type race consisting of four laps on about a 3.5 mile loop. It was similar in distance to the UCI sanctioned races that I have raced as part of the ProXCT series. However, the course was much different, in a good way! It started with a redline, full-throttle climb followed by a swooping descent with banked turns and all! The course circled around through a fun rocky section and back to the start/finish. The womens' field was not well represented for some reason. Only Sarah Kaufmann, KC Holley, and I stood at the start line. Too bad for those who couldn't make it, because they missed out on a great course! Anyway, the race started just as I expected with a hurried pace up the climb. My legs were ready for a break by the time we hit the top and the three of us were pretty much grouped together amongst a few of the expert men who managed to catch us early on. Sarah and I had ridden wheel to wheel through about 3/4 of the first loop when disaster struck! Near the mid-point of the loop I complained out loud about the sudden onset of shifting issues. Turns out my rear derailleur was jumping around because my rear wheel was moving about. This usually happens when an inexperienced rider fails to adequately tighten the rear skewer. Or, in my case, when I seemingly checked EVERYTHING on my bike to ensure proper functioning...everything except the rear skewer that is! In the middle of the rocky section, my rear wheel struck a rock just right and became dislodged. Thankfully, the wheel stopped rotating fairly abruptly and didn't come completely off. And furthermore my speed at that particular time was pretty slow. So simply put, I came to a halt and looked down at my skewed rear wheel not fully realizing that I was very lucky to escape injury. After a vocal outpouring of disgust, I struggled with the wheel and chain to replace it in the rear dropouts while using extra care to tightly secure the skewer in place. By then both Sarah and KC were no where in sight. I tried to take some deep breaths and prepare myself for a tortuous game of catch-up. It was not until the latter half to the final lap did I catch a glimpse of KC but was unable to reel her in before the finish line.
|Sarah with her enormous check!!|
Both my father and my college basketball coach were fans of the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. He therefore became a hero of mine too. Not so much for his unmatched basketball success, but more for his insightful theories about living a success life and being a good member of society. Both Coach Wooden and Coach E believed proper preparation was the key to success. One of Wooden's most famous quotes is "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail". Boy has that been resonating with me after the two avoidable mechanicals I've had this year. Odd, how those simple lessons are applicable to so many things in life!!
So to help me prepare a little better my friend, riding partner, mentor, and cycling guru Chad Davis offered to make a checklist of sorts. A quick run through to do before each race that hopefully will become routine after a few races. When I played basketball I had a pre-game routine and free throw routine... I need a pre-race, bike check routine! Chad chuckled when I dumped my sorrows upon him and he made me feel better when he told me that his coach had to give him a checklist after he experienced a slew of mechanical mishaps one season.
All these crashes and mechanicals are becoming all too frequent. I've begun to feel self-conscious that some people will start seeing them as excuses. They are coming to an end! Sarah tells me I have paid my dues to the bike gods and good karma is coming my way. And I'm doing my best to learn every bolt, screw, dial, skewer, etc to check so that my pre-race preparation is done before EVERY race! Because as coach Wooden says "Don't make excuses. Your friends don't need them and your foes won't believe them."
This coming weekend I will have a chance to try out my new routine. I'm headed to Fruita, CO to race the Rabbit Valley Rally, a Mountain State Cup Series race. Along side of me will be friends Chad and Tricia Davis, both banks of never-ending bike and training knowledge; as well as Amy Arriola, my emotional stalwart while we suffer through racing and the last few months of PA school together.