Thursday, July 16, 2009

Short Track. Round Four. Fight!

I am feeling anxiety the likes of which I haven't felt since, well, since I first started racing short track three years ago. Even at low speed during the practice lap, each time my back wheel skids or shimmies, heart is in the throat and stomach is doing somersaults. Waiting for inevitable death or maiming.

Crash anxiety. How I loathe and fear thee.

Nothing about my spill last week should, logically, cause this kind of nervous energy. It wasn't a high speed crash or an error on technical terrain. Just a stupid mistake on an unfortunate choice of racing surface.

Unfortunately, humans are not rational. Thus--the anxiety. Humans also make questionable, albeit practical, wardrobe choices. Thus--my decision to wear a huge, circa 1996 rollerblading knee pad over my still oozing and swollen right knee. I feel like a spandex clad storm trooper. Unfortunately, Dawn is hurt and unable to show her solidarity by wearing the matching pad on her left knee. I'd be disappointed if I wasn't already spending all of my emotional energy trying not to vomit.

Seriously, Lindsay, this is short track. Short. Track. SHORT TRACK. Out of shape fun in the summer time. Not by any means a nausea inducing event.

But so it goes.

Kristin tells me that it'll all disappear once we start racing. I hope so. Irrational fear is not something I deal with well. Beth is not helping matters. She advises a new addition to our group that my wheel is the one to be on at the start. Hardly. My wheel is a pink and black clad anti-christ.

But Kristin is right. As soon as we're off and running, the rational-fearful-anxious part of my brain is unceremoniously steamrolled by the "I'm going to get that fucking hole shot" part of my brain.

I get the lead and keep it for most of the starter loop. Then I crash. Again. On gravel. Again.

But this time there is no pain, no shock. Just anger about losing my coveted positioning. I get myself up and quickly chase back up to the lead group. The course loop is short and there were very few places to pass safely. I work my way up to the back of a pack of 6 or 7 riders.

I get around Beth when she gets held up at the log (I don't see it happen, but I can hear it: Clank. Scrape. "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!") and Sage, always gracious, lets me around on the motocross course. Now I'm sitting in the back of a group of four, one lap to go. Elaine is long gone. The fight is for second place.

The three ladies ahead of me are fading and I am within ten feet of the U35 leader, but I am quickly running of places where I feel confident enough with my handling to make a safe pass. The race has come down to balls and technique, not fitness, and I am, predictably, on the losing end of that battle. I surge, and get cut off. Catch back up and chicken out on passing on a corner. So I sit and soft pedal, frustrated and antsy.

I finish fifth overall, second U35. Second through eighth places all roll in within 5 seconds of each other.

The eight of us gather outside of the gate and, immediately, there are introductions and high-fives all around. Laughter and repeated exclamations of "Holy shit, that was fun" and "Sorry I crashed in front of everyone again!" (that was me, of course). This is why we put up with the anxiety and risk. For the moments when you realize that it is often more fun to finish fifth in a tight race than win alone.

It takes about ten minutes before I realize that my right hip is on fire and my knee is throbbing from the effort. I'm missing more skin, but the behemoth knee pad has limited the damage to my hip.

Another short track down, another hole in my shorts. Next season we need to find a kit vendor that makes Kevlar-reinforced side panels for their shorts. I'd buy, like, eight pairs. And wear one of them on my head.

This weekend: Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camp in Hood River. Also known as "48 Hours of Lindsay Learning How to Stay ON the Mountain Bike." Think good thoughts for me and for anyone unfortunate enough to get on my wheel.


P.S. For additional shits and giggles, I posted a weekend ride report on the team blog.


Kristin said...

They make those.

Hip pads and heat resistant inner thighs ;)

Lindsay said...

As there hasn't been any heat near my inner thighs for awhile, the hip pads would suffice.