What? Enter a race to gain confidence in my ability? No way I’ll get crushed. "I’m too old, I’m not good enough and I’ll look foolish." That's what I thought when my buddy talked me into joining them last weekend at the “12 hours of Mesa Verde” race in Cortez, Colorado.
There were 750 riders signed up for the race. Riders could either compete solo or in teams of up to four riders per team. The race started at 7:00 am. The goal is to try to get as many laps in as possible in a 12 hour period. Each lap was 16 miles long.
As I was registering for the event, I took a look around it seemed as though I was woefully outclassed by elite athletes. I was convinced that my predictions of personal humiliation would come true. But I was committed to my team and determined to see this thing through.
An unexpected thing happened from the time of registration to the starting line, my perspective changed. It surprised me. As I looked around a little closer I began to observe something completely different from my unfounded fears of inadequacy. I experienced families, friends, and complete strangers all sharing in the joy of the sport and the day. Smiles everywhere, the good vibe was contagious. So, my fear was replaced by excitement. I couldn’t wait for my turn on the course.
When my turn came I peddled my ass off, I gasped for air, my legs burned, adrenaline flowed through my fingertips. I was only five miles into what would ultimately be 32 miles of riding for my two laps. But something happened along the way that inspired me. Instead of feeling humiliated by superior riders, I received nothing but support and encouragement from others and the crowd gathered along the trail. With every rider that passed me, I admired their skills at handling a bike and understood the commitment it takes to ride at a competitive level.
My team ended up with a respectable finish. But more importantly, a sense of accomplishment. I was able to learn from other riders. The experience has inspired me to ride more and improve my skills this summer. Will I be back next year? Definitely and with a completely different attitude. I will be looking forward to reconnecting with new friends I met this year and introducing more of my friends to the race.
Have a great spring no matter how you choose to get outside and enjoy being active.