I wake up with a sore throat and know that I'm getting sick. Now is not the time. Just over eight hours until the race. My teeth feel fuzzy, fell asleep before I brushed, whoops. It is cool, if a bit humid. Temperatures must have dropped considerably last night. Lie awake and think, unable to go back to sleep. Scenarios play in the mind, how things need to be done, how to handle them when it inevitably goes wrong.
The sun finally rises and so does the heat, hand in hand with lovely Southern humidity. My Yankee blood may never fully acclimate to this. Hours pass, the morning race participants head out, then return as I continue with my pre-race rituals. At what seems the last possible moment don the 25 pounds of gear and ride my aged 2005 Gas Gas EC300 to the the line. There's hardly anyone there. Dammit, early again. Sit and bake in this goddamn oven. Finally Dave Zimmer shows up with an umbrella and it doesn't matter that he is not a scantily clad 'brolly girl, so welcome is the temporary shade. The bite valve for hydration in my helmet suddenly springs a leak and squirts sticky electrolyte solution over my goggles and tear-offs, ruining all visibility with five minutes to go. Swearing, yank every tear-off and wipe the goggles down as best as can be done, with the bite valve jammed in my mouth sucking down precious fluid as quickly as it pisses out. I am now suitably furious.
The flag waves and two dozen middle-aged adolescents charge with screaming engines towards the first turn. Third to arrive, wondering where the hell everyone is. Push as hard as I dare through the grass track, bike wallowing, feeling like the frame is broken in half, finally into the woods, down into second gear and up into second place. It's not going to last long, there's fast company nipping at my exhaust pipe, revving motors, hooting and trying to push me into a mistake. They get what they want when I clip a small tree which proves remarkably inflexible. Five of them rush by and I watch my best start of the season evaporate. Let the work begin...
|Third (well, sort of) on the outside, soon to be second...|