I'm no slouch but I'm not the strongest or fastest when it comes to bike racing. I race for fun. I suppose I would do better if I took it seriously but then I'd have to train and measure my output and eat right, etc. That's not fun to me. So a lot of times I end up by myself in a cyclocross or mountain bike race because (1) I'm slower than most and (2) there aren't that many people in the race.
Every once in a while I do get to race someone of equal strength and speed. When that happens I try to make the most of it. Challenging each other is a lot of fun and it tends to make us both do better.
I was in the two-lap race at the final night of the Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Races back on June 24. The woman in the video--I met her afterwards and her name is Tanya--passed me at the last long climb on the first lap and ended up a couple hundred yards ahead of me by the time I started the second lap. I slowly reeled her in and caught up to her on Five Minute Hill. I stayed on her through the single track but messed up in the rocky stuff when I tried to be fast instead of smooth. My mistake allowed her to jump ahead about 50 yards and I had to reel her in again.
In the last mile of the course there's a right turn up a short climb after a long straightaway. I almost pulled up alongside her but she pulled away. We exchanged pleasantries about how fun it had been racing against each other so far.
Here is what was not spoken but plainly heard.
Tanya: You are not getting past me.
Me: Oh, yes I am.
From there it was a mad dash to the finish line. With a 150 yards or so to go I thought, "I could draft on her and then zip around at the end. But there's no fun in that. You gotta throw down, Hank."
So I moved to the ride side and put the hammer down. She looked over at me--I wish the camera could have caught the audio but you can just hear just a bit of it if you listen closely--and she lets out this primal scream.
This was not one of those I-almost-wet-my-pants haunted house kind of screams. It was from down deep. The kind of scream that would make a momma bear abandon her cubs and run away in fear.
You can see her ramp up the intensity. It was on. I inch forward and we were head to head but then she went into full Gandalf mode.
YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!!!
Just before the finish line she edged me out with a lead as thin as porta-potty toilet paper. But it was a lead nonetheless. Fun times. Moments like that make racing so much more fun.
Race To The Finish from hank greer on Vimeo.