RME – Battle of the Bear: It was the third race in the series, a redo from the original day that got rained out. We originally started in a downpour, then they called the race off. The redo was hot, dry, with ominous clouds threatening over the mountains.
I shot to the front and had a small lead five miles in when I broke my chain. Rules say you cannot go backwards on the course, and you cannot cut the course to get to the aid station. You cannot take aid outside of the pit from people not on your team. I’m a bit of a Bike Barbie — I didn’t know how to fix the chain. And so I had to run the next five miles to neutral support. I limped into the pit after jog-walking 5 miles in carbon shoes, not made for running. Sports Garage fixed my chain.
I was determined to finish the race because the field was small and I would still get points even if I was last. I didn’t want to quit, but I hurt. My legs, my arms, my shoulders — all of me. And then I thought of Chrissy at Chicken soup not being able to pay her bills and living with RA. And I thought about women who struggle to be pro-athletes and survive in a racing world. I daydreamed about beating pro racers. In the last lap I was alone, tired and hot, and a little loopy, and the meadowlarks kept landing on the path in front of me and then flying ahead. I thought they were helping me get to the finish line. But maybe I was influenced by watching Steve Martin’s movie “The Big Year” the night before, or maybe it’s just my Animaux thing.
There were not many racers. But, I was able to pass two of the four in my field by the end and take second. I’m the series leader now overall for my age group. Probably because there aren’t many 40 year-old women daft enough to sign up for the whole series. Then again this is Colorado.
What does racing teach?
Bike Barbie: I just throw a leg across and ride. I’m a Specialized bike marketing demographic. I’m the woman who describes sounds and locations of issues on a bike but glaze over when the mechanic starts to talk specifics.
Pro Women: Nicole Duke on life balance — professional female athlete, mother, recent divorcee. Lifelong athlete who has experienced male dominance in sport too. Women in cycling rarely get equal payouts. Fields are smaller.
Pain: I can’t relate to RA pain. I back away from pain. I can relate to things that scare me. Like the suffocating fear of not being able to pay your bills. Chrissy and Chicken Soup.
Thinking about food at mile 50: I’ve wanted, but I’ve never been in need. Like the need my grandma described about living in the Great Depression. But then pride and family didn’t let you show that you were in need or that you wanted for anything. You made do. But those were only bits of conversation gleaned here and there over the years. What I remember were the big family meals. Weekly. Usually on Sunday. Laden with pies and pots of green beans with bits of ham. Mashed potatoes. Catsup. This after all was the Midwest. My maternal side was the same, but East Coast style. Multi courses that included linguine and other “ini” foods, or as they called it “macaroni and gravy.” That generation overcame with provisions.
Daydreaming on course: Sometimes I forget to pedal.
More daydreaming: My favorite is a mixed dream of horses and bikes. A cross country course with me against Tim Johnson. I’m on a Hunter Jumper. Tim gets a head start to compensate for the horse. I’m almost going to beat him and then the dream ends. Perhaps if I beat him the pleasure of a repeat dream will be gone? I like to play it on “loop.”
“My Big Year.”
birds on the path — flying ahead of me
yellow — meadow larks singing
yellow — cactus
follow the yellow bricks home — hallucinating — hot
Random: Breaking chain made it easier — took the pressure off.
Karma: I run the five miles to the pit because it’s faster than walking. Tempted to cut the course, but know that it’s cheating. Take heed. Karma will always find you in the end.
Food preparation: this one I never seem to figure out. No matter what combination of food and drink I try the day/week before, I always seem to have diarrhea the day of the race.
Mechanical preparation — It would be helpful to just understand the basics.
No: I rarely accept “No” for an answer, but I have known failure. It’s bitter.
I Need: More than a pair of Socks.
I dedicate the rest of the RME series to Chrissy and Chicken Soup.
© Photo Courtesy of Mountain Moon Photography.