The morning started great. I finally slept in to a reasonable hour, and for the first time had a decent bowel movement. The result was I was starving for breakfast, and I was pretty underweight. I think the fact that I was pretty blocked up to this point sort of shut down my appetite, and I was a bit behind on calories. It wasn’t due to a weird food thing, just time change. Anyway, I ate and ate at breakfast, but just didn’t seem to be getting full. In hindsight it was a bit of a mistake.
The gun went off and I was able to move up well on the opening climb. I had a strong first two laps, passing racers on both the climbs and the descents. I could feel how much my bike handling has improved, and was able to ride all of the A-lines. A couple of the course designers (same guys that designed and run the Fort William DH World Cup) were standing at the dicey transfer jump that only a few folks were hitting, and cheered big time when I would come through and take it. The mid-day heat was very, very impressive, and I did my best to stay conservative and not go into the red too early. Mom called out that I was 27th after 1.5 laps, and I was still steadily moving up towards a top 15 goal (UCI points). Unfortunately near the end of the lap I started to feel that huge breakfast begin to come back to back up. Pretty soon I had that nasty bile-feeling sitting high in my throat, and the need to throw up was starting to be overwhelming. The sweltering heat made things no better. I pulled off the course after 3 laps and headed straight for the bathroom.
It was heart-breaking to watch the remainder of the race from the sidelines, and see the riders I’d be riding near move solidly into the top 20s. Although right now the race feels like a lost opportunity for a very silly reason, this trip in general has been the chance of a lifetime. I’ve gotten to see a very different part of the world, meet new people, and make new friends. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.
Following the race, I went for a couple more laps of the course to help clear my head. I’ve said this about quite a few tracks this year, but this one is one of my favorites. Nice short power climbs, and that tell-tale World Cup style descending that makes you just a bit scared each lap. For one of my post race laps I was joined by the lone representative from Georgia (the one between Turkey and Russia, not southern U.S. to all you non-Geography types!) We talked training, dreams for the future, and cultural differences… and realized we had much in common. It was just one of the innumerable encounters from the week that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Tomorrow afternoon I start the long two-day trip back to Durango, and look forward to refocussing on some collegiate mountain bike racing. If this event happens again next year and I get the opportunity to attend, I will certainly jump on it. Thank you China for your hospitality!
P.S. official result from the short track was 34th. We had 85 starters.