Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WORS #4- Subaru Cup Mega Event

Talk about one heck of a weekend. For sure this one will go down in the record books as one of the best to date. The weather finally decided it was time for summer and provided us with two of the hottest days this year. We got to enjoy the company of family and friends while meeting lots of new people. Lastly, the biking event at Mt. Morris was a great venue which provided us with lots of entertainment both Saturday and Sunday. The Subaru Cup has become a national event and provides the racers with an entire weekend of racing, first on the menu was cross country event. The weekend of racing also gave us proof that things happen for a reason and dreams/goals can be achieved.
When you're a kid everyone tells you to dream big and don't let anything stand in the way of achieving those dreams. They advise you to set goals, some smaller and some larger. The goals provide steps to achieving your dreams. Something they forget to mention is how one goal might conflict with another goal/dream. They also don't give you much guidance on how to handle life when one goal gets in the way of another goal or dream. And this is why, I believe, things happen for a reason. While we make a life altering decision, there are circumstances that we haven't yet been able to uncover for they haven't been disclosed. They only become apparent to us when we have already committed to our decision and are trying to decide what to do next. But it always leaves us thinking about why we chose the path we chose and what good will come of it.
Things up to this point really haven't been going all that well for Darrin in terms of biking. You see he has been having trouble with a few goals and dreams he has. Providing for his family and having a family is a life goal that Darrin has. He also has a dream of becoming a Professional Mountain Biker. (Yes, this is different from what Lance Armstrong does!) For those of you who don't know Darrin, he is the type of person to give 100% in whatever he is doing. He began to think that if he pursues his dreams of becoming a professional mountain biker that he wouldn't be able to give 100% of his attention to the family, nor would he be able to provide financially as much as he would want to. Can you see where this is going? Should he pursue his dreams of mountain biking or should he do the more grown up thing and start pursuing a career? Darrin has been mentally struggling between these two life goals and aspirations, which has caused him a lot of frustration on and off the bike.
Over the last month or so, I have been trying to help Darrin get through this mental struggle. Ultimately it is his decision on whether to keep biking or to hand in the towel and start working on a career. Uncooperative weather, nagging injuries, and mechanical bike problems really added to Darrin's frustration. Mental struggles tend to become harder when non-controllable items pop up over and over. Sometimes it seems as though they are signs leading you to make a decision sooner rather than later. I think we were both hoping that the weekend would be a good one, to provide Darrin a sense of direction.
And it is here that our weekend began as we prepared for the WORS #4 - Subaru Cup near Mt. Morris. Our adventures started Friday afternoon, as we headed out in two separate vehicles. Jamie made her way up from Indiana early Friday and helped us finish packing our vehicle. Being the nice older brother he is, Darrin drove her non-air conditioned car to our hotel in Red Granite, Wisconsin. I drove our Subaru (Up front parking for all Subaru Vehicles!!!) while Jamie relaxed in the passenger seat. I felt a little guilty as it was a crazy hot day. If any of you have forgotten, Friday was a severe weather day in and around Milwaukee. We ended up driving through some really heavy rainfalls, but by the time we arrived at the course, the clouds had cleared and Darrin was able to pre-ride. (First item to go his way!)
After he pre-rode the course for awhile, we headed back to the hotel for some spaghetti and rest. I think Darrin was a little excited but we all fell asleep rather quickly. Breakfast was once again provided by the hotel. We sat in the main lobby and enjoyed coffee while Jamie caught some extra shut-eye. I don't think we could have gotten the car packed up fast enough for Darrin. He was really excited for the race. We found ourselves rushing out the door to get back to Mt. Morris so he could warm-up and finish his registration. It didn't take long. Darrin finished registering, got dressed, paid 50 cents for a new bib number, and began warming up for the Cross country event. The weather was extremely warm, unlike the race in Wausau where I wore my winter hat and gloves! Before the race I made sure Darrin took in a lot of fluids so dehydration wouldn't be an issue.
12:00 came earlier than we expected and we found ourselves once again waiting for Don to begin the race. This Cross Country race was different from other WORS events because they ran each category at a separate time slot. The Comp riders usually ride with the Elite/Pro's (starting 2-3 minutes behind them) but started 2 hours after them on Saturday. Jamie kept Ginger at bay while I handed off water bottles and took some photos. The first hand off didn't go so well and I knew immediately that I needed another spot to give him his water bottles. Without too much putzing around I found a place that I could walk to and even get some cool pictures from. The race went very well and by about lap 3 I knew Darrin was going to have a good finish. Darrin can tell you how he wound up finishing this race, but I will tell you that he did his best and he had fun. Both of which are questions I ask him at the end of each and every race. (When he answers both questions with a "no," I will know that it is time to find something else to occupy our time!)
We stuck around for the awards ceremony, but then headed back to Red Granite to grill out and meet my parents. Darrin cooked chicken on the grill, and we had a wide range of sides to choose from including cut up watermelon. YUM! After we all filled our bellies we headed off to bed early. I suppose there is something to being out in the sun all day. It wasn't really sticky or humid, but it sure was hot! I managed to walk away with minimal burning on Saturday, but tired from being in the sun all day.
Before we could venture off to bed, Darrin tried on his new racing kit. (More proof that things happen for a reason~Congratulations Darrin, all your hard work and determination are starting to pay off.) Just when Darrin thought he should give up biking, he was able to check off another item from his goal/dream list. I know I shouldn't spoil his story, but I must tell you how proud I am of him! He is always telling me I am the best, but truthfully I think we make a great team. We believe in each other and when one of us is down, the other one is right their to help us up and get us through our struggles! Darrin can proudly mark this off from his goal list. Yup, I believe things happen for a reason.
Sunday started bright and early as we had to be at the course by 9am so Darrin could pre-ride the Super D and the Impreza Short Course. Nothing could pre-pare us for the day's events. And I don't think Darrin knew what he was about to do in a day's work. We arrived early at Mt. Morris once again. This allows Darrin to make sure he is registered and for him to get warmed up. The Super D is a race to the bottom of the hill, fastest person down wins. The course is mainly a downhill trail with a little bit of climbing involved. They sent the racers down in waves of 5-8 people according to their category (i.e. Pro, Cat 1, comp, etc.). This was an intense race to to be the first one across the finish line.
Jamie and I found a little shade near the finish line and waited for the race to start and riders to make their way down the hill. The rest of the gang found a shady spot somewhere on the course to cheer the riders on. After the first wave of riders came down we noticed there were an awful lot of tongues hanging out and everyone was saying, "Holy crap, that was intense!" They looked to be completely exhausted, yet thrilled at the same time. We weren't sure how they scored everyone at first, but then we noticed the guy pushing the timing button each time a rider crossed the finish line. In the end, Darrin had a great time and finished in 0:07:24, which was pretty good considering he has never done anything like this before.
The weekend provided another first, the short track or dirt crit as others were calling it. After the Super D, there was about an hour or two of lag time before the short race started. Darrin did a cool down and then began to prepare for the next event. The weather was so muggy and once again hydration was a key component for the racers and the spectators. I made Darrin a pb & j for his pre-race meal and he guzzled some more water. He also decided that he needed to make a gear change for the short track. The one he had on wouldn't provide him with the right ratio for this type of event. Again, this is something only single speeders need to worry about as racers on geared bikes can shift their gears as the course changes.
The Impreza short course was just that, a short lap that took less than 2 minutes to complete. The scary part of this race is that they push it to the limits for 20 minutes and then have to push it even harder for 2 more laps. (CRAZY! I know.) Darrin lined up with everyone and it became apparent very early that he had a small case of the nerves. But, I think I was more nervous than anyone. My poor heart was beating so fast and truthfully didn't calm down until Darrin crossed the finish line. My nervousness stemmed from watching a road crit that ended badly last summer. On the last lap someone made a little mistake that took out 4 riders and sent one person to the hospital after he collided with a mailbox. Crits on the road or on the dirt are scary because everyone is traveling as fast as they can and even the tiniest mistake can cause big problems.
26 Pro/Elite riders chased each other through the fastest part of the Mt. Morris trails. Each lap they got faster and faster. We could see the riders through a section in the woods to know how the lead pack was doing and Darrin of course. Lap after lap Darrin was right there with the leaders. I noticed after about 5 laps that I was no longer paying attention to how many laps they completed, but I was more concerned with how Darrin was doing. Faster and faster they came across the finish line, allowing almost everyone in the lead group to work a little. At 0:19:45 the leader crossed the finish line, giving everyone an extra lap to complete. (The two laps start when the leader has crossed the finish line after the 20 minute mark.) The lead group had pushed it into overdrive and Darrin was doing all he could to keep up. I have learned through Darrin and others that when you ride a single speed it is a bit different than riding a geared bike. On a single speed you have to do more work to keep up with the riders who have gears, but you also have to be smart and save your legs if you want to finish the race. (Perhaps Darrin can explain this one better than I can~you'll have to ask him about it!) I won't spoil the results for Darrin, but I will tell you that on the last lap he tried to pass the guy in front of him 3 times before they emerged on the final stretch. Then without hesitation, he found his legs to be strong enough to sprint to the finish....he advanced one spot.
Now, I was thinking this was great! But I am not a bike racer and I don't know the etiquette of racing. We made our way to the car to get Darrin his recovery drink and found him to be a bit upset with himself about how the end of the race played out. Darrin called it a newbie mistake and began to explain a little bit about racing. Everyone does work throughout the race and at the end it's an all out battle to the finish line. Darrin, being on a single speed was doing all he could do to keep up with the leaders. This didn't allow him a chance to do any work for the group. So, although he did jump up a spot at the finish line, he really felt bad about his choice to sprint it out with the guy in front of him who had done work throughout the race.
Darrin immediately talked to his teammates and made sure they knew how he felt. Darrin is pretty young in terms of biking (And in life!) which makes all the difference in knowing the proper protocol for racing. He sure has a lot to learn this year, which is great because it is a learning and growing year for him. And now he has teammates to learn from!
We hung around for the award ceremony as Jamie headed off to Marshfield. Just as we thought it couldn't get any hotter, the sky opened up and provided us with a nice cool sprinkle. It wasn't enough to end the rest of the events, but just enough to cool everyone off and it brought out the umbrellas. Once the rain was done, the heat was back and more intense, just in time for the awards. Darrin was fortunate enough to achieve some awards for the weekends events. Standing around waiting for all the awards to be handed out, I began to run out of energy fast, which meant it was time for us to get going. I didn't know it yet, but I was burnt. The awards too quite awhile as there were a lot of events and categories to get through. Eventually we were able to make our way to the car. Darrin chatted with a bunch of people after the awards were handed out, including Don the race director. He wanted to know Darrin's story...biking story that is.
Darrin had a great biking weekend. Not only did he do well in all of his events, but he gained knowledge, teammates, and got to know more people. Although it was hot, I also had a great weekend. I got to take lots of pictures (check them out), spent time with great people, and enjoyed watching Darrin do what he loves to do! What could be better?
So just to let everyone know, things really do happen for a reason and dreams/goals can be achieved! You just have to put in the work and the effort. Oh, and Darrin and I will start our own family soon enough, but for now we are enjoying our many blessings and greeting each day as it comes! Darrin and I are quite content enjoying life and biking!
Thanks to everyone who joined us this past weekend to watch Darrin compete! We hope to see you all in Eau Claire over the 4th of July weekend!!! (WORS #5-Chippewa Valley Firecracker!)

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