When I bought the book from publisher's "Save the Serengeti" page, I received a signed copy with a nice note from the author and quite a few stickers, including four that said, "Die Biting the Throat". I decided that one of them needed to go on the top tube of my mountain bike.
Fast forward to this weekend. I still hadn't actually put the sticker on my bike, but a training cycle of many puke-tastic sets of 30 second sprints had seriously enhanced my ability to push myself, even if my power numbers still weren't as awesome as I'd hoped. I wasn't sure how I felt about my first race at DINO BCSP, because I didn't really know what kind of shape I was in. However, I decided to go into the race with as little expectation about performance as possible, but at the same time to adopt "Die Biting the Throat" as my own credo. Basically, if I wasn't fit enough to do well, that was okay, but whatever happened, I was going to go down swinging.
So we lined up and I scanned the field. There weren't that many Cat 2's and only one I recognized. I knew I had to do my best to be the first in my class to reach the top of the paved climb, since I hate being held up on the downhill singletrack. We took off and I was easily clear of all the Cat 2 girls and the Cat 1's weren't pulling away at the speed they normally do. One Cat 2 girl came around me for a bit where the climb flattens out a little, but when the pitch increased I shoved myself into the hurt box and re-passed her along with two Cat 1 women. I had made it through the first major obstacle of the race, and now I just had to keep it together and hold my lead.
One Cat 1 girl came around once we started climbing, and Emily, who was in Cat 1, passed me about halfway through the North Tower loop. However, she didn't pull away quickly, so I had a carrot to chase up until the Aynes climb. I glanced back early on and saw a girl from my category and panicked a bit, but I just rode as hard as I could and miraculously crested the climb without being caught. At that point I knew that I had a pretty good shot at hanging on for the win, but I still had to be conscientious. I did my best to rip the descent, push as hard as I could on the little ups and downs, and made it to the North Tower climb. Just five more minutes hard, and a screaming descent, and I had it. When I topped that climb, I knew I'd win, and a mile of downhill later, I did.
So I'd call my first race back from surgery a huge success. I think part of it is that I'm not taking myself so damn seriously this year, but at the same time I'm learning to be tougher when it counts. I also think I got lucky with the field today, but hey, a win's a win. I'm definitely hoping to repeat at French Lick in a couple of weeks, since that is my favorite course.
In case I forget sometime between now and June 18, I installed this when I got home from the race: