This afternoon, after work, I plan to pay $38.00 to race in the Third Annual Stan Crane Memorial XC Race. This race was supposed to be last Saturday, but was postponed due to a whole lot of rain on Friday night.
I admit that I was happy when the race was postponed, though I think I might have been even happier if it had been canceled outright.
Why would I have been happy for this race to be canceled? Well:
- The race is on a course that I ride — for free — between two and four times a week.
- I do not have a chance of winning the overall, nor of placing well in the overall.
- I do not have a chance of winning in whichever category I could race in (I’ll be racing on a singlespeed, but will probably enter the Sport category).
- I do not have a chance of placing well, no matter what category I race in.
- I’m very embarrassed to say that a size Large jersey fits me kind of tight around the middle. This is doubly embarrassing when you consider that a size Medium fit me nicely this time last year.
And yet, this afternoon I will race.
Should it ever become necessary, feel free to use the above as prima facie evidence in a trial designed to demonstrate that I am either insane or stupid. Or insanely stupid.
Level of Effort
Really, the question I have to answer for myself before I begin this race — and will probably ask and answer differently again multiple times during the race — is: “How seriously should I take the race?”
I see several possible answers, which I will put in another bullet list.
- I could cruise it. This is the sensible option. I’m not going to place well, so why knock myself out?
- I could give my all. Hey, if I’m going to pay to race, I may as well treat it like a race, right?
- I could tell people that I’m just going to cruise it, but then give my all with the secret and unrealistic hope that I will do well in the race. Then, when I don’t do well in the race, I can continue to maintain that I was just crusing it.
Of course, I would never consider that third option. It only occurs to me in a hypothetical sense, or perhaps it’s something I have observed in others, but would never do myself.
No, I think I’ll go with that first option: just cruise it. That’s my final say in the matter.
Though it would be kind of cool if I somehow managed to do really well in spite of the fact that I’m just cruising it. I mean, maybe I’ll have a really good day or something.
Even when you’re just cruising a race — as I am — smart tactics can make a big difference in how you finish. Here are the tactics I intend to employ in this afternoon’s race, in the form of yet another bullet list.
- Category is crucial. I’m tempted to race in what I assume will be the much smaller single speed category, thereby ensuring my category placement will be much higher (because last place would probably still allow me to say, “I came in fifth in my category”). However, racing in the Sport Men 40+ category lets me proclaim that while I did indeed finish last of everyone in the category, I was riding a single speed, which everyone knows is much harder. If I had ridden my geared bike, I’ll be able to say, I’d have podiumed. For sure.
- Category is crucial, part 2: The single speed category starts five minutes before the sport category. If I raced in the single speed category, this means I’d have to endure the humiliation of every age group of sport racers passing me. Since Sport Men 40+ starts after single speeds and younger Sport racers, I’ll only have to endure the humiliation of being picked off by the 50+ and 57+ men. And the Beginner men. And the Beginner Women.
- Victory is How You Define It. I hereby define victory for this race as “finishing before Dug.” Yes, Dug, that’s right. You’re the only person I care about beating this year.
- Accentuate Your Strength, Neutralize Your Weakness. The problem with me trying to beat Dug is that he’s about three times faster on the downhill than I am. My plan is to do whatever it takes — and I am not above nefarious means — to be ahead of Dug when the downhill section begins. You see, the downhill is entirely singletrack. And while I am a much worse downhiller than Dug, I am good enough to prevent him from getting by me. Getting on the downhill two seconds before Dug in this race could easily stop him from beating me by ten minutes in this race.
- Declare My Intentions to All and Sundry. During the race, any time I am passed, I will say, “I’m just taking it easy today.” I have not yet decided whether I will say the same thing on the off chance that I pass somebody. Though I kind of like the sound of it.
- Drink CarboRocket. It will help me hydrate, endure, and win. Plus it tastes great! (You owe me five dollars for that plug, Brad.)
I’ll provide pictures and a race report tomorrow.
Although, I want to make perfectly clear, I’m just cruising this race.