July 14

While we’re on the topic of acronyms that begin with “D,” why not relive my DFL from last year (nevermind that I didn’t know what it stood for until a few months ago).

Event: The Burn Mountain Bike Time Trial at Wellington Lake, Bailey, CO
Course: 14 miles through the Buffalo Creek trail system – mix of forest road and singletrack
Weather: 80′s at the start, 30 below zero at the finish (thunderclouds, wind and rain rolled in to turn my sweaty jersey into an ice pack)
Goals for the event: Finish the race without getting lost

No expectations. I’m making this my new mantra, for without any expectations, my ego gets a little less bruised when I lose. Just a little less. I made the decision to enter The Burn just a few days before the race and after having 2 weeks of vacation (read: sitting on my ass). I didn’t know the course, I’ve never done a time trial, and I would end up going first in my category. Arriving with no expectations was definitely more relaxing. A lot nicer than feeling like you’re going to hurl from nervousness. I took my time getting warmed up and making my way to the start where my husband wished me luck and my hound bayed his concern for me on that scary two-wheeled contraption.

After a short stretch past the lake, I started out flying down the forest road. Down, down, down. What the hell? We’re going backwards! I never start a ride going down first, that means you have to climb to get back to your car. UUUGGH! I see the first course marshal who tells me to slow down and turn left. “Thank y….” Whoosh. Down I go, sliding through the corner. Guess I didn’t hear the “slow” part.

IMG 7159 Lowering expectations with a DFL finish
As I fumble to get my chain back on a woman passes me. Now I know I’m 2nd. We hit the singletrack and start climbing. Near the top and here come the other girls. Now I’m 3rd, then 4th. Another stretch of downhill on the singletrack which I was excited for until I learned about the Colorado booby trap corners. Seriously, what’s up with all the gravel?! Reminded me of the sand traps in Moab. Just when I get going, I come to a corner that someone dug out and then dumped their year’s supply of kitty litter into. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but I was actually relieved when I saw the turn back onto the forest road.

burn Lowering expectations with a DFL finish

Winding through the 1996 Buffalo Creek fire area, hence the name: The Burn
Photo by Mark F

That is, until I remembered that forest road meant we now had 2 miles to the finish to make up all that elevation we dumped. And have I mentioned I’m not fast? Unless it involves the aid of 9.81 m/s^2 or my husband yelling back to me “Did you crash? What’s taking you so long?” my riding style leans heavily toward the “leisurely” pace. While others are checking their heart rate zones, I’m checking out the deer, and the baby bunny hopping in the field, and turning back because I swear I just saw two squirrels kissing. So you can imagine what happened while we were grinding up the climb: 5th place, 6th place….. and so on. Hell, I even got passed by the sole woman in the beginner category who started last (I guess I chose the wrong group, even though I like to think I’m “sporty.”) I kept suffering up the hill, at least now confident of the fact that I was firmly in last place.

I rolled across the finish line to see my husband rushing over with extreme worry on his face, “Are you okay? Did you have a major mechanical problem?”

“No, honey. I’m just not fast. Now where’s my beer!”

Results: Last place. DFL. Dead Fucking Last.

Lessons learned:

1) I’m not fast. I guess subconsciously I knew this, yet I’m still compelled to race. No, I haven’t figured out what’s wrong with me.
2) Time trial format is better than a group start; unless you’re the first to start, and you’re not fast.
3) Wellington Lake is a beautiful area despite it being a dumping ground for everyone’s unwanted gravel.
Bonus lesson) I LOVE Colorado beer!