Monday, July 20, 2015

MTB Nats And The Avalanche Of Stupid

It's a post-race weekend Monday and for me, that often means one of two things is happening: gratuitous gloating over the superhuman feats of strength and power I performed or a few stormy days filled with brutal workouts, tearful cloud bursts, self-flagellating and abusive brain language that I would never dare spew at another human.

Today is the second half.

I sucked this weekend, guys. It was a a full on suckfest. It sucked so much that I feel like I spent the weekend with my mouth glued to a glass window, like a starfish at the aquarium. That's the level of suck displayed.

Sure, I could blame my lack of positive race result on the course, but I won't. I could blame my level of failure on USAC routing an entire Enduro field (and the accompanying 29-inch wheels and fistfuls of terrified braking) down the DH course, but I'll save that for later. Instead, I'll be honest: it was a great fucking course. It was probably the best nationals course we've had in a very long time and it was brutal. It was technical and fast and loose and it made almost every single pro look like a bunch of silly beginners... That's how amazing it was. And guys, it was faaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssst. Like, so fast your hair blows back with how stupidly fun it is to go that fast but you probably should slow down because this corner is loose and oops, there goes all of the skin on your elbow. That's how fast it was. And loose. I will never give my cat a funny look ever again when he climbs out of the litter box with tiny pebbles stuck between his paws -- I'll be dumping rocks out of places I didn't even know existed for the next six months.

I had fun. I really, really did. Despite my level of irrationally fearful suck, I still had a lot of fun. But I really did suck. I balked at the bottom of the first rock garden where I injured my back two years ago, I shied away from commitment at the ledge/kitty litter pit, and I refused to send some baby root gaps closer to the bottom. I could blame it on being 9 weeks out of a horrendous collar bone surgery that included two plates, a lot of screws, a hinge, and some pins, but my shoulder felt great. My body was ready. But my brain?

HA! I think my brain said 'adios!', hopped a plane to Cabo and took the week off. Because nowhere in my mind was the usual devil-may-care sender dumbass. Instead, I was replaced by an annoying four-year-old version of myself who threatened to tattle every time I thought about trying something dangerous or remotely risky. "I'm gonna tell mooo-ooom!" she would chant. (You know the tone.) And it worked. I would shy away from features that I wouldn't normally even slow down for. I yanked on my brakes and stumbled over lines; I washed out in the slow sections and balked at the fast ones. I was a wreck.

Would I have preferred that USAC hadn't decided to send multiple trail bikes down the same route for their first-ever sanctioned Enduro race for a fairly empty title in a discipline they don't oversee? Sure. Would I have liked it if the terrain had been left natural and/or less-manufactured to reflect the true spirit of the mountain? Of course. But those things happened, and as racers, we learn to deal with them. I didn't, and that put me .036 second off the damn box.

And I wasn't not on the box because of the course or the technical values. I wasn't not on that box because of USAC. I wasn't not on that podium because of equipment failure, injury, or a life-threatening disease. I failed to make it on that box because I chose to go around the rock garden, chose to hop through the second ledge and basically, went really fucking slow. For whatever mental, physical, emotional, intellectual reasons, I failed to perform. And that's the kicker of racing -- I'd love to make excuses for why I was almost 52 seconds off Jill's pace, but there are none. I failed to adapt and converge with conditions. I failed to go fast enough. I failed. And that's something I get to live with for another year.

That's racing.

And that was the avalanche of stupid.


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