Well, that was brutal.
My body hurts, my tire is flat, and all I have to show for it are these freaking sweet pictures.
Take a few minutes to relive the race day events from the 2012 DORBA Fall Series race at Sansom Park. I am going to do something new today and try to re-tell my race day story.
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So how was my race you ask?
It was a beating. Sansom Park, as if you didn’t already know is like the character Nelson from The Simpsons, it punches you in your stomach and then laughs at you as you’re hunched over trying not to hurl. Between the climbing, the rocks and loose dirt, the day after… I feel like I was run over by a truck.
I woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning feeling great as I rolled out of bed. It had been a busy week for me so I hadn’t done any riding, but not on purpose. Surprisingly, at that time my body actually felt pretty good.
Since I had planned to do a lot of video and photography while I wasn’t racing I was taking a ton of gear. In total for this one race I had my Camelbak which I prefer to wear in a race, my camerabag and tripod, as well as my stuffed gear bag containing my helmet, shoes, mid-race nutrition, a change of clothes and a towel.
For those that don’t know a towel is a must have at a race. After you finish your race you wrap your lower body in the towel drop your sweaty cycling shorts and toss on your clean clothes. Then you can use the towel to dry off all the sweat and scrub off the dirt thats been caked on to you.
If you know me you know I am a coffee addict, so after jumping in my fully laden car I immediately rolled into the nearest Racetrack convenience store for a cup of Joe. Ahhh, much better. Blasting a little Katie Perry, LMFAO and other extremely uncharacteristic music I had made the hour drive to Fort Worth in no time.
When I did get there it was still pitch black outside, I made sure to arrive a little early so I could get plenty of sunrise pictures, of which none turned out. I grabbed my camera and headed for the registration table where the first few Cat 3 entrants were signing up. As I scurried around snapping pictures I ran into one of my fellow Cadence Cyclery Teammates Curtis.
Curtis: “Hey man, are you ready to race today?”
Shawn: “Not a bit, I haven’t been on my bike in since Monday when i got two flats out here.”
Curtis: “I’m sure it won’t be so bad” -Or something very similar… it was 6am for goodness sake!
So after snapping a few pre-dawn pictures of Curtis signing up I ran off to get a few pictures of the bike shops and their tents while interviewing a few folks on what tips they have for racers.
My favorite interview of the day was a 7 year old who has already been racing mountain bikes since age 4. I can’t remember his name, but I’m going to give him the nickname of captain awesome.
Shawn: “So can you tell me how long you have been riding mountain bikes?”
Captain Awesome: “For 3 years, I started when I was 4.”
Shawn: “Hey so you’re pretty experienced then, what is your best tip for someone who hasn’t raced before.”
Captain Awesome: “Just go ride and have fun.” as he shied away to his dad.
Truly great advice. I got the whole thing on video too! But then I realized the microphone was off. Oops.
So here is my brief disclaimer… I am not a photographer, nor do I play one on TV.
Yes my pictures aren’t always in focus, yes I forget to turn on the microphone, no I really don’t have a clue what any of the buttons do on my camera. BUT I will gladly run around with a camera and tripod and pretend like I’m a
prodigy seasoned expert. So if you have any negative comments about my photography ability I will gladly ignore them and pretend you said “Your pictures are radical brah!”. Because obviously if you dislike my pictures you must be a stoner hippie from california.
I ran around a little bit longer snapping more photos and video by this point it was just about to kick off the start of the Cat 3 race as racers gathered around for the pre-race meeting. The race director gave an enthusiastic good morning to the racers, he had obviously had more coffee than me.
The Cat 3 group is the starting point for mountain biking, they would be doing 2 laps of the course for a total of 9 miles. As they lined up I was snapping pictures and video while running around like a fool with my camera and tripod.
Seriously, when you carry as much gear around as I did I guess people just think your supposed to be doing that. I wonder if I that will work at a Rangers Game?
As I watched wave after wave of racers take off I got completely lost in the pictures I was taking. I found myself sprinting about a mile into the trail and getting just inside the singletrack hoping to get a cool action shot. Time ceased to exist. By the time I got back to the starting line another of our Cadence Cyclery riders walked up to me, but I can’t remember who.
Mystery Teammate: “Hey Shawn, aren’t you supposed to be racing today?”
Shawn: “Yeah, I’m just taking a few pictures before I have to get ready.”
Mystery Teammate: “You may want to hurry, you start in 30 minutes!”
It’s true, I had gotten completely sidetracked and lost track of the time. What’s worse is right then I realized that the breakfast I packed for myself to eat promptly at 7:00am was still sitting with my gear. I feel it is very important on race day to keep with your typical diet and eating schedule to avoid… “inopportune situations” on the bike. You know, having to go numero 2. At this point my stomach was already feeling a little bit sketch, in fact my body had gone from feeling great that morning to pretty sketchy at this point.
— Texas MTB Trails (@TexasMTBtrails) September 9, 2012
Proof of my not-feeling-so-hotness from that morning.
I would never forgive myself for skipping this race, after all Sansom Park is my second favorite trail. So I sprinted over to my gear, ate my food as quick as possible and threw on my heart rate monitor, Cadence Cyclery bib and jersey, and grabbed my shoes. At this point I had 15 to maybe 20 minutes to jump on my bike and try to get a warmup in.
I grabbed my bike off the rack and jetted toward the open road where I rode until as close to our start time of 9am as I could. For those that want to know, I got back to the line at 8:58am. Just in time for my body to freak out having just realized that I ate and now needed to go to the bathroom. I found a friend on the line asked him to hold my bike and sprinted off to the nearest port-a-john.
Finally I sprinted back to my bike getting, feeling seriously anxious that the race had started without me and I would now be minutes behind right at the start. I lucked out and my age group was just lining up. As I hopped over my bike and inched up to the starting line the announcer called 15 seconds till start. Gee, that wasn’t perfect timing.
The whistle blew and the 19-29 Cat 2 males were off. Now here is one thing you should know about me. I’m not the best racer, I corner like a dump truck and have the balance of a drunk sailor. But I will be top 3 off the line every single race. Why the race directors don’t realize that and cut the race down shorter I may never know. Hint hint Ryan Kota.
I lept off the line like I was shot out of a cannon, looking over my shoulder I could tell I got a good jump on the rest of the group. By the time we got off the starting line and onto the grass I was in second place, and one more racer passed in front of me at the beginning of the grass loop. When we ducked into the tree line and onto the first rocky descent into the singletrack I was in third place.
This is going to be a great race I thought.
And this is where I will pick up tomorrow with the rest of my Sansom Park race story… Be sure to subscribe below to get instantly notified of the next story.
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