These are my top 5 memories of my mountain bike racing “career”.
- The First Time
The very first race I completed in was the 2004 Stoney Creek Time Trial at Stoney Creek Metropark in Shelby Township, Michigan. The race is approximately 11 miles and took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete. I was 7th out of 9 in the Beginner Clydesdale class. For those of you who don’t know the Clydesdale class is for racers over 200 pounds.
- The First Bad Weather Race
The first race I completed in that saw less than perfect weather was the 2005 Time Trial at Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area. The weather was actually quite good up until about 20 minutes before my race started. Then the rain started lightly at first and even at the start it looked like it might hold off. After about 3 miles including some of the toughest hills I ever walked up it started pouring. Towards the end of the race, my brakes were not working so well. I was coming into turns hoping they would grab soon. The good news was that it had been so dry before the race that the ground was just sucking up the water. I think the wet brakes may have been what helped me because this race was also the first race I ever won.
- The First Hard Training Crash
I was out on a training ride at Maybury State Park, I crashed. To this day I don’t know how, but I went down so fast I didn’t have time to take my hands off the handlebars. I remember the sound of my helmet hitting the ground and feeling a sharp pain in my face. Then I remember touching my face an noticing an abnormal wetness. Not the usual sweat, but something different. As you probably already guessed, it was blood. So I felt around on my face and I could feel a flap of skin where my eyebrow is. Now what to do. I had my cell phone with me, I could call my wife, wait for at least a half hour for her to come get me, then ride in the car for half an hour to wait in an ER to get stitched up. I had a better idea. I could ride the 13 miles to an urgent care center that would be convenient for my wife to pick me up. So I did. Fortunately, after the initial burst of blood, the bleeding had stopped. So I rode to the Urgent Care. I figured I couldn’t be too bad when no one stopped me on the road to see if I was OK. I made it to the ER and 48 stitches later was ready to go home. The doctor was willing to let me ride my bike home, but the wife wasn’t.
- The First Endurance Race
I turned 40 in 2006 and for some stupid reason decided I needed to try Mountain Bike Endurance Racing at the 6 and 12 hours of Addison Oaks. I know if I showed you a picture of me, the first thing you would think is “This guy must be an endurance athlete.” Well, maybe not. For the last 2 years, I have weighed between 230 and 250 pounds. Not exactly endurance material, but hey, I’ll try anything. So I register early so I am committed to racing and don’t chicken out at the last minute. Then 2 days before the race, it starts raining. And it keeps on raining right through to race time. Actually, the rain wasn’t as bad as when it stopped, because the mud would go from the consistency of soup to peanut butter. I was 6 years old the last time I got that muddy. I did manage to complete 5 laps although I sat out an hour because I didn’t want to destroy my poor bicycle. After this race I ended up replacing a bunch of stuff including all the cables, the shift levers, and the brakes.
- The First Endurance Race in Good Weather
I rode in the 6 hour part of the 6 and 12 hours of Pando. Pando is a Ski Area north of Grand Rapids Michigan. If you recall from the previous memory that I weigh between 230 and 250 pounds and you put that together with “Ski Area”, you will get where I am going with this. As you might guess the race course had a lot of elevation changes although I only remember going up. This race was a really good test for me and I was glad that I completed. The overall winner of the 12 Hour Race was Danielle Musto who passed me a lot. I feel kinda bad because she was so nice as she passed me. Politely chatting and offering encouraging words. I don’t think she understood me but I tried to tell her, “Hey Danielle, I read your blog and it has been a real inspiration for me. Good Luck.” I don’t blame her though, I may have sounded like “Grrr, Huuuuuuh, Huuuuuh” as I was fighting to keep my lungs inside my body. I ended up moving (riding and pushing) for just under 5 of the 6 hours. I did not finish last in the 6 hour Mens 40+ Solo category, but the one man who finished after me separated his shoulder on the first lap.