I did a little MTB racing on Sunday. Well, 'racing' would be the wrong word for it because this particular course is an internal challenge. Frankly, Swanson scares me. It's twisty, filled with roots and fast, steep little whoop-de-doo things that make a 29er want to take flight, and most of all because last time I rode it a spent the afternoon in the hospital with Marc. I needed stitches from my wreck and he had xrays done which confirmed he'd shattered his clavicle the on the pre-ride the day before. Of course, the cause of the accidents was way too much roadie speed and way to little MTBer skills.
Nonetheless, it's one thing to know the cause and solution in your head, and quite another to let the fear go and apply what you know, especially now that I'm keenly aware of the pain quotient my rate of travel + any given solid object can yield.
So, Sunday I had three main objectives: 1) Safety for Superweek, 2) see if I liked my newly raised bars, and 3) go ride that freaking course despite the sick little feeling in my gut that makes me cling to my brakes, stiffen my upper body, and desperately long for the open road.
As far as meeting the objectives... well, I'm nursing no superweek threatening injuries, I'm still out on the bars and #3 will take some work.
I should have gone and rode the course a couple of times by myself in the morning, but didn't make it up there in time. I rode part of the course once before I raced and discovered on the start line that they'd opened a section closed to the beginners that I especially don't care for. Oh well. Relax, pick the line, keep your eyes on where you want to go.
WHACK. OUCH. Drag the bike out of the way wondering why can't I feel my knee. Oh my whole leg feels charley-horsed. After a bunch of guys passed, most asking if I was alright (thank you! for checking), I drug my bike to the top of the rise and Shim said, "Is that front tire a little soft?" I squeeze it and sure enough, it's so soft it's not even funny. Wonder I made it that far. So, I filled it back up and after rubbing my leg a bit continued on the course. Problem was that I'd lost faith in my front tire which made me more fearful and magnified my caution which in turn made me stiffer and less "into the groove" than I already was and I really kind of wanted to quit. But, one thing I do know, is that once you start letting fear creep in, it'll spread until its paralyzing effect cripples most everything you do.
So, when I forgot the right turn down a steep incline and froze up, I just quick stopped, got out of the way of other racers, retraced my ride to 20 feet, got back on and rode it correctly. I did this multiple times through the course and was consequently the LAST one in. Oh well. There's nothing wrong with being scared, inexperienced, etc. It's what you do in response that matters and defines you.
As far as that tire goes... well, it turned out to be a slowish leak from a small hole in the sidewall that I'd thought the sealant had filled, but maybe the sealant got knocked out? I'm not entirely sold on this tubeless technology. Flat or not flat. That's easy. This is it gonna hold stuff is hard on my peace of mind.