Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Over The Hill To Oblivion

I don the bovine carcass that is to become my personal sweat lodge for the next three days, a helmet that feels like a pressure cooker and prepare to sprint in the heat to start the bike. I remind myself of the eight pounds the bike lost by going this route and try not to think about the thirty or so heart attacks I've had since then trying to get the bike started....

I am about the middle of the pack waiting to go out on track. This is an entirely new track to me, and one thing I've learned is that Youtube videos offer no sense of scale or elevation changes, or just how fast things really happen. It's no different here at Road Atlanta. The first group heads out and as I follow a corner worker stops me and holds the group back. This is generally done to spread the riders out in practice. A great idea for safety, but now I am at the head of the line, with no clue where I am going. It can't be that bad, right?

Up the hill through turn one and then......where the hell am I? I lose all frame of reference and memory and I cannot see where to go next and momentarily panic, expecting to be rear-ended any second by someone with a clue. When I finally get some visual information the track appears to go in at least two different directions. I have no idea which one to choose and my indecision lands me square in the middle of both directions, i.e. off track into the dirt. Slowing to a crawl and struggling to keep the bike upright, a few other riders pass and now the path becomes painfully obvious. Would have been nice if the other alternative had been marked off with cones. Oh well, back on the pavement and hope the dirt and rocks stuck to the tires come off before the next corner, with nothing but a bruised ego and severely diminished confidence.

The first few laps of Road Atlanta are daunting. The track feels big, fast, undulating and gyrating like a seasoned stripper and me a freshman with only a few dollars housing stipend left and 12 oz. courage wearing off. A lot of fun, if only you know what the hell you are doing....

Ummm....which way do I go?

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