My First Official Bicycle Race

On Wednesday, May 28, I got a mass email from Dave Hachey, the guy currently running the local cycling club (Idaho Cycling Enthusiasts, reminding all the club members that the first Scout Mountain Hill Climb was going to take place that evening at 6:30 pm. I was excited about this because I actually had the time to participate in this event! Yeah, my life’s been pretty busy lately… somehow that never changes very often, either. :-)

I dashed home early from work, donned my cycling clothes, stretched, and headed off to Scout Mountain on my road racing bicycle. I thought to myself that most of the racers would probably drive to the event, since it is a few miles south of town, but I always enjoy cycling to an event if I can. Cycling is just fun, whether you are racing, cruising, shopping around town, commuting to work, or trail riding. Also, I knew that I sure as heck wasn’t going to set any records, this being my first cycling season, so getting to the starting line fresh probably wasn’t going to help much. I probably shouldn’t even bother participating in races, but I think they are fun and they are a heck of a good workout. And in a small town like Pocatello, everyone is encouraged to participate as much as possible in community activities, since activities like this are lucky to have a handful of participants.

Rain was predicted for the evening, and this actually made it more exciting since it would be interested to see how things turned with the weather. While cycling to the starting point, it began to steadily rain, but the temperature was high enough that it wasn’t very bothersome at all. After getting to the Cherry Springs parking lot near Scout Mountain, I saw a few familiar faces, put my name on the race list, got my number pinned to my jersey, and continued warming up by riding along the roads around the starting point, even though the 8 or so miles I cycled to get to the race was plenty of warm-up time! While dawdling around waiting for the race to start, I noticed that I was the only one with a “granny gear” (the #3 small chain-ring) on my bike. I really don’t mind showing my naivety, so I exclaimed to another contestant, “wow, I think I’m the only one here with a granny gear!” and he replied, “yes… just remember not to use it!” I gulped.

Soon, the lady coordinating the race (Smitty Faure was her name I believe), began taking the roll call and then the first contestant was off, and then the next and the next in 1 minute increments or so. I was the 4th person off, and later on I was really glad of this since if I had been one of the last people to go, I would have held up the race coordinators waiting for my slow ass to finish ;-) After starting, I kept a pretty grueling pace (for me, anyway) and was determined not to let the guy behind me overtake me… even though I knew it was probably going to happen.

Next, a couple of the racers behind me had overtaken me, including the 60-something guy with the big, white chops-style beard… yeah, that guy is seriously hardcore. Soon, I was seriously getting exhausted… about midway, actually. I was alternating from shifting-up-stand-up to shift-down-pedal-fast… this is my own method of working both aerobic and anaerobic systems without fatiguing either… even though both were pretty danged fatigued by now. And at the same time I was pretty proud of myself: I was in the best condition of my life and I knew I was doing something that a year ago I couldn’t do. So I trudged on…. More cyclists passed me, each of them saying something like “good job” or “hey” briefly. By this time, I didn’t really care, I only wanted to finish this torturous race! I had ridden this road before at much slower pace, so I had an idea of how much further I had to go.

Soon, I could hear the folks at the finish line and then they were in sight! I gave it one last push, crossed the line, laid my bike down, and walked around catching my breath. After a few gulps of water, I put on my windbreaker and headed down the long and winding road off to home. All I could think of was a nice hot shower and eating the equivalent of a full-size cow. On the way home, Sam Krieg hollered at me from the passenger side of a car: “Wow, you’re a tough guy, want to warm your hands by my heater?” Hehe, Sam’s a funny guy.

The next day, the results showed that I made 21st place out of the 23 contestants and I had finished with a time of about 36 minutes. Yayz! The course was 5.1 miles with a 1500 ft elevation gain. Whew.

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