Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Best of 2007 - Pictures: Part II

Note: Originally my plan was to cover a quarter (3 months) with each post in this best of 2007 series. However, my thoughts on the April 2007 picture resulted in a much longer post than expected. So I'm going to just go with the one picture today and post May and June tomorrow.

April 7, 2007 (Saturday) - Hell of the North Road Race - Salt Lake City, Utah

[Click the picture to view full size]

It's funny that the only photo of my road bike in this best of 2007 series is one where I'm racing on the dirt! What that means, if you havn't already guessed, is this picture was taken at the annual Hell of the North road race. This marked my second attempt at racing HON and like last year my goal was to stay with the lead group. Unfortunately any chance of realizing my goal rode away from me near the end of the first lap of five.

Up to the moment when I lost contact I thought I was riding a solid race. Situated near the front of the Cat 5 pack, I entered the dirt among the top 5-7 riders, and was pleased to find myself on Chris Sherwin's wheel. For those of you not familiar with Chris, he possess pro-level mountain bike skills and seemed to present the perfect wheel to follow through the deep gravel I knew was coming. Everything was going great until the rider in front of Chris hit a section of deep gravel, fishtailed, and reacted by hitting his brakes (all of you mountain bikers know that brakes are not your friend in the soft stuff)! I could tell Chris was a little annoyed as we too applied our brakes and then accelerated back up to speed. The effort hurt but I hadn't lost my position and was hanging on. That is, until it happened again. I could tell Chris was ticked this time but as before he was able to slow down and then reaccelerate to maintain his position with the lead group. Sadly, I blew up trying to regain my lost momentum in the deep gravel and lost his wheel. Then, to add insult to the injury of falling off the lead group, I watched the main group ride by me seconds after I turned off the dirt as I struggled to find my legs.

Crossing the start/finish to begin lap 2 I was hit with the reality that in a single lap I had gone from feeling strong and confident to being filled with frustration and embarrassment. As I rode by my wife and kids for the second time I hung my head and muttered that I was wasting my time. At that moment I just wanted to pull over and get off the bike but didn't want to do it with my family watching. So, I kept riding. Luckily it wasn't long before I regrouped with another Cat 5 rider, we picked up a third, and soon we started passing shelled riders. I wasn't making huge progress but at least I was moving up instead of going backwards. In the end I stuck with it until I'd finished the race (much to the excitement of my kids who asked if I had won!).

After riding back to my car, changing my clothes and loading my bike onto the rack I decided to head home before results were posted. Since I hadn't been in contention I wasn't worried about not sticking around to verify and confirm my official placing. However, when I later checked the results online I saw that I had been given a DNF. What?! That really pissed me off, especially since I had wanted to quit after that first lap but overcame my negative thoughts and finished the race. Unfortunately the time to protest had been after the race when the results were first posted so by the time I realized the mistake there was nothing I could do. DNF and all I was still pleased at how I had negotiated the race. One of these years I'm sure I'll realize my goal of hanging with the lead group but for me, this picture represents a good ride regardless of what my official result may say.

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