The first XC race of the season happend in St. George last weekend. So it is official. The 2006 season is here. Sort of. It is another month until the next race, but nevertheless, the giants have been awakened.
I almost feel that right now is the calm before the storm. It has been a long winter of plugging away on stairmasters and indoor trainers, lifting weights and braving the cold. Spring is emerging from beneath the mud and thawing snowpack. It happens slowly if you try and watch it, but forget to check its progress for a few days and suddenly it stands there in front you with raised eyebrows wondering when you are going to “gitterdun”!
Winter in Utah does not go away easily however. It seems that every year, just when everyone is breathing a collective sigh of relief at the beast returning to the woods, it wheels around and takes one last bitter bite, leaving in our minds the stark reality of the weather in the Rocky Mountains.
Do you ever have those moments where the exact feelings you have during a race come back to you? For an instant today I could feel the sun on my back and taste the sands of Moab in my teeth. I could see the sun sinking behind the horizon and feel the terrifying and thrilling “lump” in my stomach at the prospect of night arriving. In that instant I was homesick.
I could feel the adrenalin rush of the Le Mans start, I could see the sea of helmets around me as 500 riders tried to sort themselves into some semblance of order. I could hear the whirring of chains and the shifting of gears, the grunts and cuss words of racers beating thier heads against a brick wall as they tried to pass in the chaos.
In that instant everything that is a solo race came back to me. As quickly as it came though, it was gone. I was back in March again, watching the grey clouds move slowly across the sky, and continuously waiting for spring to arrive.