Every morning after a big race is a muddle headed affair. If you’ve raced to a decent finish and are left with with the dizzying come down as all the tactics, efforts and intensity of the event suddenly disappear, you’ll find yourself mentally wandering back to the course, into the race, lingering a little too long before snapping out of it and getting back to the normalities of life. Tiredness helps hold you in the past as each corner, each drop, every climb is relived, remoulded and recreated. Not just as it was, but so much more, the mud will offer up more grip than you gave it credit, your legs will be capable of more power than you demanded of them, you will see where you could have given and taken more. It’s a skewed and distorted picture, highly rose tinted and very belittling, but ultimately nothing, in comparison to the knowledge that, ‘you did it…and did it well’.
Sadly, if you’ve gone, raced and fallen short, the same flashbacks, the same bloated opportunities you didn’t take will grab at your attention as you work through the next day, but now with no answer. No endorphin fuelled defence, nothing to placate, unused energy will work against you and as you drift off into the past frustration will pin you down. All you can do is creep through what little remains as good in these newly created memories and build them into a plan for the future. The way out is through.
I raced for just short of 12 hours at the weekend. Only half of what I should. But I felt fit enough to keep a decent pace, had enough in reserve to change tactics if I’d needed to and could push the bikes as far as my skills allow without them holding me back. Fuelling was working well, I felt comfortable and seemed to be able to take on what I needed each lap. I can build on that over the next few weeks and take it to Mountain Mayhem.
On a slightly lighter note, dropping out meant I got to see the ‘real story’ behind what goes on in the pits at these races. I used to think that it was 24hr of solid hard graft by those supporting the racers – while we as racers just ride round and round, pit crews would be working their fingers to the bone through the worst conditions you could imagine to ensure we never have to remove our attention to just riding a bike, but I now know better.
I now know that its basically one long party.
Beer, a night of loud music and poor dancing (Michael and Wayne probably have no idea what they looked like, bouncing around to the Beastie Boys at 3am in the pouring rain, up to their ankles in mud…). That’s all it is. Maybe with a rag occasionally wafted at a bike, should one get too close to the never ending supply of all-the-food-you-know-shouldn’t-really-eat-as it’s-bad-for-you.
Pah. Hard work indeed.