Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Enduro FOMO

This weekend was the third round of the West Virginia Enduro Series, but Frank and I decided to skip it. Although we’d heard it was a fun race that we had missed last year due to the TSE, in the end we decided it wasn’t worth the logistical challenges. The race was five hours away, and there was an XC race on Saturday, which meant we wouldn’t be able to begin our pre-ride until 3:00 p.m. It was unlikely there would be shuttles for practice, and starting a 17.5 mile pre-ride at 3:00 seemed like a good way to end up exhausted and stressed out for race day. I briefly considered the option of entering the XC race just so that we could pre-ride the course earlier, but I quickly came to the conclusion that this race might just be draining more forks than I was willing to give this early in the season. Instead, we went to Snowshoe for two days, and it was super fun.

What I learned from my early enduro experiments in 2015 was that if I was going to do a race, I had to be fully committed, pre-ride, hotel bed, and all. “It seems like a lot of effort,” a friend said to me when we were catching up at the Ray’s Women’s Weekend last winter, when I told her that’d I’d been way too tired to race ‘cross after my last enduro season. Of course, the other contributing factor was that ‘cross wasn’t really as fun anymore after I moved to PA, because all of the races were so far away that I couldn’t race as much as I wanted to without it becoming a burden. At least enduro feels worth giving up an entire weekend and sleeping in a strange bed to race, and I don’t need to race nearly as often to keep my edge the way I do in ‘cross. From a purely stimulus/recovery standpoint, I would ideally do one enduro race every 3-4 weeks, but with so many races available that I have yet to try, as well as the ones I want to try again, I sometimes have to make hard choices.

FOMO is a constant force in my life since I dropped in to this gravity-oriented journey. Knowing how mentally and physically tired I am after a race weekend, I made a rule that I was not allowed to race two weekends in a row this season. Once I put all of the WVES and my two “big goal” races on the calendar, that pretty much precluded most non-State College MASS races, or ESC races. On weekends I’m not racing, I have to choose which of the many dimensions of enduro training I should work on. Do I stay home, work on my endurance, and catch up on my sleep? Do I get up early for a day trip to a bike park to work on skills that I can’t work on in Rothrock? It seems that the weekends go by so quickly, and I often change my mind as to what’s most important to me on a given week. When Frank asked if I wanted to go to Blue Mountain or Mountain Creek this weekend, I replied, “Let’s decide after Snowshoe. It depends on whether I’m feeling jumpy or droppy.”

Not that I feel like this rapid adaptation is a bad thing. Sure, I missed out on what might have been my one opportunity to not get last place this season by skipping the Black Bear Enduro, but I gained valuable experience at Snowshoe, as well. Having only ridden at Snowshoe in the context of a cold, rainy race weekend, I’d been wanting to see what else the park had to offer. Even after two days, we still didn’t get to see everything due to weather delays and trail closures, so hopefully we can find time to make it back again this season. We’re scheduled to race there twice this season, thanks to my FOMO from missing nationals last year, so I’ll definitely be seeing more of it one way or another.

At the moment, I think I’m feeling droppy, so this weekend will likely end up being a big climbing ride on Saturday and a trip to Blue Mountain on Sunday. Then it’s on to the Rothrock TrailMix, now featuring 87% more enduro than last year’s initial attempt at adding an enduro category to the event. It’s currently slated to be Wildcat and Old Laurel’s last appearance in a competitive event, so while I’m not as ready for my one official shot at them as I would like, I want to do my best to given them the sendoff they deserve. So much for “destiny is all”, but that’s freeing in a way. If I keep following my heart from weekend to weekend, my real destiny will reveal itself eventually. This sport will always be full of missed opportunities, but it also has so many chances to be in the right place at the right time, and we never really know which it is until we choose a line and let go of the brakes.

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