Things to notice:
- Pretty poor numberplatesmanship. Glad to say my technique has improved a lot.
- This was the first and last race I rode Crank Brothers pedals at. I clipped a rock and one of the wings blew up. M647's for life, bro.
- This was also the only time I ran 4-ply Intense Tires front and rear. Intense called these tires the FRO model, as in "For Race Only." I called them FORMATTTSA: For One Race Maybe And Then Throw That Shit Away.
- This was my first year racing in the pro category. I sucked at this race, I sucked at the race before it, and in general I got completely crushed that year.
And that brings us to an important point. Getting annihilated in my first year in the pro class was an important, formative experience me, and it's an important experience for all racers to have. Every time some rookie pro has a good first year I feel like, somehow, they've been robbed. Having your hopes, dreams, and self confidence slowly die from the inside out over the course of a season is a huge part of racing, and it's something I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on. Of course you can have an abysmal season any year, but few things can hold a candle to the awesome, powerful, dream-crushing potential of the "race category upgrade."
You thought you were hot shit in Cat 1/Semi Pro/Junior-X, but now you get up to the big leagues and find out that all these guys have been going twice as fast as you for years, and instead of talking about it like all your friends from your last category, with words like "epic," "so pinned," "total domination," or "balls to the wall," they just call it "an okay weekend." They are humble and reserved and faster than you because they've been through the shitty season and they carry that knowledge with them every day.
And when's it's all said and done, this is what non-racers miss out on: the inarguable, undeniable fact that stares you straight in the face every time you look at a results sheet after what you thought was a great run. Looking at the long list of people that appear above your name, most of whom you've probably never heard of, and counting the number of people that were within one or two seconds of your time and could have easily beaten you if things had gone differently, you realize in absolute terms that you really are not special, and nothing you do on your bike is special. There is an almost infinite supply of riders who are as good or better than you, and if you were to toss in riders from other similar but more popular/big money sports like snowboarding or moto, the number of riders better than you would be effectively endless. There are droves of riders better and faster than you, even on their bad days, and the only question is whether you know that or not.
Because if you did know how totally and completely not special you are, I wouldn't have to read all the self-congratulatory bullshit you put up on Facebook yesterday about how you "soldiered through" an 8-mile ride in light rain.
Just to revisit the idea that you "soldier through" anything, let's review what actual soldiers do:
And what you do: