Thursday, May 14, 2009


Last night I found out, the hard way, fear of failure drives me. I’m not out to win when I race, I’m more realistic than that. I would like to not get last, but sometimes I put myself in situations where that’s just the way it’s going to be because I’m pushing far beyond my comfort zone, like at the Hammerhead, and last night. However last night, at my first actual attempt at a competitive race post elbow snapping, I got worse than last, and believe me this is hard to write, I got the big DNF. I could say I got lost, lots of people did. I could say I got a flat tyre, there were plenty of those. I could even say a marauding gang of possums forced me off the track and stole my bike pump, but that would obviously be a lie, or a delusion. The fact was I was just too slow. So slow that I was very aware that even if I finished, and I know I could have, I would have had over a hundred people standing around in the cold waiting for me to cross the line so the prize giving could start, trying to prevent frostbite in their various extremities. I did not want to be that person. My initial reaction, which might have had something to do with low blood sugar, was that I never wanted to go near my bike for anything more competitive than the commute to work. However this morning I feel very different. I feel very, very motivated. I will not let this race beat me. I will finish it without those at the front of the pack getting hypothermia waiting for me. I will get my legs back.

Enough of that, now a more prosaic vision of the night race…..

Sea of night

In the sea of the night the strong gather. Lights on heads, angler fish of the darkness. They race off, fast, faster than me, legs pumping, hard, strong through the mist and chill. A shoal of the strong, zig-zag around the weak, flashing past a hair’s breadth away, streaming by on all sides in waves of brief colour. We dive into the trees, the darkness parts before me, a tunnel of light filled with the fog of my breath, the sounds of laboured breathing, and the feeling of pursuit. Off in the distance a chinese dragon fights through the trees, burning the nocturnal creatures with its stare. They flee and I chase onwards, knowing that behind me others come and I must hold them off. Soon the flight reaches the ocean and the sounds of my heart and lungs, duel beat of exertion, join with the rhythmic crash of the waves. Pockets of chill night air seep into my airways and leave me gasping, the salt on the wind stings my eyes and they weep.

The dragon is lost in the distance and I am alone in my pool. My pool follows my gaze and finds those holes that could trip me in my pursuit, in my bid to escape from those that follow. My pool is a strange place, where menacing shapes lurk on the periphery, dark fingers stretch out, figures dart from tree to tree. The creatures that creep and sneak and shock are in there, but my pool keeps them at bay. Alone in the pool, I drag it with me faster, to catch the dragon and escape those behind. They mustn’t catch me. Then back into the forest, the burning of lungs, the tunnel of light spurs me on. Through labyrinth corners I pull away from those lights that are catching me, dragging me in mercilessly. This is a playground, with traps for the unwary, this is where I have a chance to escape. No light in front, that dragon long gone, but from behind me I sense them come on. Each hill brings them closer, each corner pushes them back, I feel they have unseen cables reeling me in. The straights are their strengths and I struggle to hold on, till the forest embraces me and gives me a chance. Then the forest is over and I must push more than ever. Not far to go, but they are behind me, hot breath at my shoulder, as determined as I am.


CrazyChris said...

Dammit! I forgot the night racing started yesterday! Sigh, will have to stick to non-competitive antics in the dark in the forest again... Sux to have a DNF, but a wee bit better than a DFL?

Tinkerbell said...

Actually I think I'd rather have of DFL, I hate giving up and and DNF feels a lot like a cop out.

MtbCat said...

Starting is way better than not starting and you'll get there!
I think you rock!