Another amazingly sunny February day in Washington State, and another mountain bike race. It was my second race of 2010, and the first race of the SingleTrack Cycles West Side Mountain Bike Series. There will be 6 races overall in this series. The race was held at Dash Point State Park in Federal Way, Washington. As mentioned previously, the day could not have been more perfect, sunny and in the 50′s. Marring this almost perfect day was the limited bathroom facilities available at the venue. I am sure the long line of people waiting to use the single bathroom stall would have agreed with me. If there is one thing attending multiple race events has taught me, it’s that there are never too many bathrooms, only too few.
The race was typically late in starting, which meant more time to relax in the sun. Once all the riders were ready, the race was started in groups according to age. I started with the age 29 and under group, and led the pack off the go. This was exciting until I realized that I had no idea where the race course went after the starting sprint up a concrete road. I fell into the middle of the pack to see where the new leaders would lead. Once safely on the actual race course, things quickly slowed down. My age group caught the stragglers of the groups that had started before us. The frustration quickly mounted as faster riders were held up by slower riders. The trail was narrow with limited room for passing. Any time a biker went down in the trail, or had to dismount and lug their bike over an obstacle, it slowed things down even further. Even with the building frustration, most racers were polite, and I didn’t hear any shouting or cursing at the slower riders. As the race continued, the pack thinned out, and the going got easier. The trail wound up and down and around. There were several crudely constructed bridges, and multiple water diversion logs to keep my attention on the task at hand. Due to the recent stretch of dry weather, the trail was in fairly good condition with only a few deep muddy sections.
My body was feeling great, and I started passing people at a consistent pace. One on a corner, one on an uphill stretch, another on a straight away. I passed my brother, who was also racing, holding his bike in one hand and a wheel in the other. His day was over. By the time I came around to close out lap number one of the course, I was flying. I took a few swigs of watered-down, orange flavored Gatorade from my mud covered bottle, spit the dirt out of my teeth, and charged into lap number two. This lap was faster than the first one mainly due to the fact that the crowding on the trail at the beginning of the race had thinned out. I kept up my pace, and checked over my shoulder a few times to get a view of any competition coming up from behind. Not a soul in sight. I narrowly avoided crashing in the mud on a tricky root filled section, but managed to hang on and ride it out. I completed my second lap, and sprinted towards the finish. I briefly dueled for position with a guy who was not in my age group, but ended up passing him on the final straight away. I crossed the finish line, and as I blew by, I heard them read my race number out to record my finish time.
I headed straight for my car, and pounded about half a box of Girl Scout cookies my wife had bought for the occasion. After changing into far less sweaty clothing, I walked back to the finish area, quickly collected my medal, and hit the road for home. Another successful day of racing without hurting myself, and much anticipation for the next race in two weeks.