We started race day with coffee and pancakes. Darrin loves pancakes and filled his plate full. Apparently his eyes were bigger than his stomach because I had to eat his last one for him. We relaxed a bit and then packed the car up to head out to the course. Iola is about 1.5 hours from Marshfield and allowed Darrin to relax before hand. I think the closer we got to the course, the more our nerves started to intensify. As we pulled into the parking lot Darrin let out a big breath of air and said, "It's on! I am ready for this." We found a spot near the back of the parking lot and turned the Subaru into a pre-race prepping station.
We are usually an hour and a half early to the race. The time allows Darrin to relax, get dressed, get his bike ready, hydrate, and warm up. He usually eats about 2-2.5 hours before the race just so it doesn't upset his stomach while he is riding and so his body can use the food he has eaten appropriately. (Believe me, there is a true science to endurance fueling!) I take the time to check out all the other bikes and get my stuff ready to hike into the course. My job during the race is to hand off bottles and cheer of course. Darrin usually tells me what laps he is anticipating a hand off and gives me his goal for the day.
Unlike any other race, Darrin had a few fans to cheer him on. My parents and their friends, Dennis and Heidi trekked over to the course to provide a little excitement for their Sunday afternoon. Upon arrival, they chose to check out the venue and find a place to watch the race. Mom and Heidi held spots in the "bowl" while Dad and Dennis ventured back to the car for their chairs. They were in position by 12:30.
At about 1:15 Darrin got me to the spot he wanted me for hand offs and we made our way to the start line. I met up with Darrin's Fans and we waited as the racers filled the starting blocks. After an introduction of the top 10 Professional Racers from last year and the national anthem, everyone in the Elite/Cat 1 group made their way to the start line. With a count down of 30 seconds, the announcer yelled, "GOOOOOOOO!" And the race began.
This year Darrin chose to move up to the Elite/Cat 1 field after winning the 3 races he entered in the Comp category last race season. The move up allows him to race with more people pedaling with his intensity, skill, and speed. The year should be a challenge for him and a chance to enhance his skills by riding with such a competitive group of riders. He is one step closer to achieving his dream/goal of becoming a professional mountain bike rider.
Ginger and I made our way back to our post and started our count down. Darrin had completed a lap in 25 minutes during his pre-ride on Saturday, so I expected them to make their way to us in about 21-22 minutes. Right on time, the first few riders made their way back to the start finish line to complete their first lap. It all happened so fast and was so exciting that I forgot what I was doing. My camera never captured any pictures and I forgot to ask Darrin if he wanted water or Gatorade. This was okay as Darrin chose to take two bottles to start the race. We figured fewer hand offs were better. Again we waited.
The excitement of the race continued for another 4 laps. We watched as riders made their way around the course again and again. Darrin took a water on lap 3. He looked good and for his first race was doing very well. At the end of his 4th lap/beginning of his 5th lap he asked for a Gatorade because he was cramping up. I don't think this has ever happened before so I was a little concerned that he would make it around for another lap.
People started to file to the finish line as the leaders made their way through the course. Darrin's fans even made their way over. I could hear lots of cheering and cow bells as the elite riders progressed to the end of the race. After about 18 minutes or so the two leaders battled to the end and crossed the finish line in 1:38:44, FAST!
We all waited in anticipation as more riders crossed the finish line. My heart was racing until I saw Darrin and another rider making their way out of the single track and onto their sprint for the finish line. What a great ending for us to watch as the two of them battled it out to the finish line for a better finish. (I don't want to leave you hanging but I will let Darrin tell you where he finished. Also you can check out the WORS website for all of the results.)
Still cramping we made our way back to the car and prepared a post race meal for Darrin. Dennis, Heidi, Mom, and Dad put their chairs out and enjoyed some snacks with us as we waited for Darrin to cool down. After hydrating with water and eating some fresh fruit, Darrin began to feel better. I packed up the car as Darrin got changed. And with his first race under his belt we headed up to the awards area where Darrin scored a spaghetti Dinner. We also watched as they presented awards for those who did well in their age groups, and how the Elite racers finished.
Did he finish well? You will have to read on his post to find out, but I will tell you that we had a lot of fun watching the race. Also check out our flickr site for more photos! Ginger and I love being the pit crew and we can't wait for the next race. I always tell Darrin at the beginning of each race to do his best and have fun. And when I approach him after the race, the first thing I ask him is if he had fun! If he tells me yes, then it doesn't matter where he finished because I know he gave his best performance. We are very proud of him and are looking forward to this building/learning year! Rhinelander here we come!