Monday, May 16, 2011

The Beach was Grand

A fine looking selection of Alter Ego racers dressed in colours at Grand Beach May 15, 2011. I'm the token chick in the photo. (Including Paul B and Adam G, second and third from the left, and Dave C third from the right. I'm ashamed to admit I don't know everyone's name. I will learn them, I promise.)
I was in Toronto once a few years back and ever since I was a kid I'd had this fascination with the CN Tower. So finally in my late 30s I got the opportunity to go up the CN Tower. It wasn't cheap, but I decided to make the most of it and had lunch over looking the city. It was an overcast day but it was still memorable.

If you've never been up there, or if it's been a while, one of the highlights of the CN Tower visit is the glass floor. You can walk on the glass floor and it gives the illusion that you are walking on air a kilometer or so in the sky. I was determined to check out the glass floor. I approached it easily. There were 20 or so people milling around on it comfortably. There were children rolling on it and lying on their stomachs and pressing their squished noses up against the glass.


So I walked up to the glass floor watching my feet and the floor. It's not very big. Maybe 100 square feet. Maybe slightly more. It is partitioned by metal beams between the glass squares so it isn't shear glass. As I got to the edge, even though my body was free to take the steps, my mind slammed into mental force field and I couldn't do it. My palms got sweaty, my heart rate jumped, and all I could do was stand with my toes pressed up against the metal border and watch everyone else stroll around the glass floor with complete safety and ease.

I've thought since that if I hadn't been alone that day, that maybe if someone had taken my hand and pulled me onto the glass floor and coaxed me through it, I might have been OK.

That same feeling of panic is what I felt every time I stared down every single one of those damn rock gardens on the Grand Beach race course yesterday. I'd mentally tell myself every time one approached, that I was going to at least try to ride it. But I'd get to the upper edge and the same thing happened every time. I put on the full breaks and I was off my bike choosing the far more energy inefficient route of walking through it. Damn me.

One of the Expert racers, I think it was Olly, passed me at the first rock garden and he flew through there at top speed without hesitation and that made me and another like-minded walking racer make statements of awe that involved 4-letter words.

OK it was only me who said 4-letter words.

But I feel the same way about the rock garden as I do about the glass floor up the CN Tower. Maybe if someone would coax me through it, I could do it.

That's the kind of mountain biker I am. My teammate Paul B., who won the Elite race, came in all of about 6 minutes (excluding the 9 minute head start) after me and he did 4 laps and I did 2.

My lack of mountain biking skills does not in the least bit make me unhappy with my performance. I rode my own race. I didn't come in last and even if I had, at least I was out there givin' 'er a go. Something has happened to me after California. I went out there to get stronger and I've come back realizing it is all aboutt he experience and being there. My endurance saved me in the race yesterday. I felt like hell on lap one. I can never seem to get a fast start but I settled into a rhythm by lap two and felt better. They were really long laps. Greater than 10k, I would guess.

I'm still recovering from California and I feel it every time I exert myself. I was out hill climbing at Garbage Hill the day before and it took nothing to shoot my heart rate up and make me wheeze with every breath. I felt like a bag of crap the whole ride. At the very least, I felt better on Sunday at the race. And the left hand, while better, is still not perfect. So imperfect in fact I've been threatened with needing to stay off the bike if it doesn't show improvements by the next time I go to physio. And what do I do? I go do two mountain bike races in one week, the most upper body taxing type of biking there is.

At this point is when my dear dear friend, to whom I give nothing but admiration and he gives me back nothing but flack (you can probably guess who) would say, "You damn roadies, always full of excuses."

Am I really just a roadie now? Can't I be more than that?

I had a great time yesterday. I learned a few things. I enjoyed the people tremendously. Tomek's wraps were awesome (I had hummus). My stomach told me to eat slowly so I got to savour every bite. The praises being sung everywhere about the quality of the post race food are all true.

I needed Coke, though. And beer.

And I finally got to meet Mr. Sherwin in person and that was a highlight of the race as he is just as awesome in person as he is in writing. And thanks to Greg, also, for lubing up my squeaky chain prior to me hitting the course. Thanks to JP and Colin for pointing out I had a squeaky chain at all as, in my terror through my gnashing teeth, I probably wouldn't have noticed. Thanks to Olympia Cycle Club for putting on an awesome show. And thanks to Dave C. for trying to teach me how to ride up the carpet and for dragging me into the above photo. He always does a good job of making me feel part of the crew.

It was my first Mountain bike cup race. Actually it was my first cup race ever. It won't be the last. See you at the next one.


Greg said...

That was a great race report!

Well, until you mentioned that arse hole Sherwin.. He doesn't even write anymore, much less race....

Good meetin' you too.

Kim said...

Ya win some you lose some Greg, it's all about what you learn from it right? As for the writing part... well..... (sigh).

It was a pleasure indeed, my friend.

Loonytalker said...

I know lots of people who just look up at the CN Tower, they wonder what it's like but they just can't bring themselves to do what you did and just get on that elevator. Same with the race. Lots of people (myself included) would love to know what it's like to compete like that but jsut don't go the last step and ride up to the start line like you did. Don't kid yourself about the boulder gardens, I tried to ride them outside of the race and ended up jumping clear of my bike on the first rock. You keep racing and you'll be the one inspiring awe in no time. Just the fact that you did it is pretty awe-inspiring to me. Pretty fucking awe-inspiring if you don't mind not being the only one to wield four (or seven) letter words.

Kim said...

You are absolutely right Shane. effing right!