Ever since I started racing cyclocross, I've always loved coming to New England for a bike race. Not only the region is cool, but most importantly, the bike scene is huge, people are big fans of the sport and the races always have such a fun and positive vibe. This weekend, to the soundtrack of Notorious B.I.G, we headed to New England with David and Lea for the UCI HC Boston Rebellion race.
Nowadays, I don’t really get super nervous about the race itself. What stresses me out the most is whether I’ll be able or not to do my absolute best during the race. It sounds super cliché, but if you’ve ever experienced it, you know what I’m talking about…
Sometimes in races, I have a hard time getting out of my own way and when that happens, I never do very well. Most importantly, when I do that (getting distracted and then being stuck in my head for an undetermined amount of time), I don’t really have fun and I am not proud after the race because I know I could have done better. I call that bad version of myself "Baboune la Vieille Poune" which could translate to "Grumpy Old Chamy".
The good thing is that this happens less and less theses days. And when it does happen, I am more able to get out of it than I used to.
Anyway, last week, after a few mistakes, I got in that mindset for about half the race at Nationals before getting back to reality on the last 1.5 laps and finishing strong. So before the Boston Rebellion, I was a bit worried I would do it again.
My strategy to counter that was to take a minute before the race and set my head straight by setting some tangible goals for myself. Basically, I reminded myself what I was about to do and what I should focus on. For me, that meant:
- Remind myself of the start and couple few features.
- Focus on myself, not others.
- At the start, I wanted to go as fast as I could to get in a good position in the first singletrack. I was not starting on the first row, so to do that, my focus was set on looking ahead and searching for opportunities to pass.
- Have some key points I could control to think about during the race: Looking way up the trail, breathe, accelerate out of corners.
- Embrace the pain: Smile and say "Heck yeah, that's good" when I was hurting instead of saying to myself "Ouch that hurts, maybe I need to slow down..".
- Have balls, don't hesitate. Or as one of my good friend always says: "Go fast, take chances."
With that in mind, I was excited and felt ready to race. I'm happy to report that Baboune la Vielle Poune never showed up during the race, it was only me, and I had a good, fun, and clean race! Yahooo!
The race was relatively uneventful for me...
- Lea got the hole shot and was leading, we were a leading group of 5.
- "This is good!"
- Lea broke her chain. Me: What happened?! Are you okay?!" Lea: "I broke my chain!" Me: "Crap!"
- To myself... "That sucks...Okay Magh, come on. You gotta do it for the team now!".
- In the feed zone, I told Dave that Lea broke her chain so he could get ready to fix it.
- I kept riding with Rose, Emily and Kate for a while and let a gap open on the second lap after a small mistake.
- After that I pretty much rode by myself the whole time and finished in 4th. The course was very fun and I was happy about my race and my performance!
However, in my book the "Champion of the day" award totally goes to Lea. She broke her chain on the first lap, very far from the tech zone. I honestly thought she would drop out of the race. I think I would have. But L-Diggity took her bike and ran all the way to the tech zone with her two "surgery-ed" hips, got her chain repaired and started riding in last place. She set out a super strong pace and made her way through the field to finish in 8th in a stacked field. To me that's the attitude of a true champ. Thanks for showing me how it's done Lea!
The day finished off with a cool down with my official New-England-races-cool-down buddy Crystal Anthony and a fun dinner at whole foods with more New Englands friends (Ian, Jack and Jeremy).