Staring up at the sky, the taste of blood in my mouth, my heart hammering like a brick in my chest, I closed my eyes and let the world spin like vertigo.
I’d just finished my third cyclocross race, winning my category for the second time. I draped my arm over my face, the crook of my elbow covered my eyes. I was smiling and I couldn’t stop.
A little over a year ago, I was in the same position on my bedroom floor bawling my eyes out. With time, with patience and with a willing heart, things and people change.
My mom couldn’t believe it when I told her I’d won my second ever cyclocross race. And then again when I’d won my third. I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it, either. I just remember laughing a lot and out loud. Because it’s so unbelievably fun. And after everything running—and not running—has put me through, it’s about damn time I won something again.
If I had to put a pin in it somewhere—to maybe explain why I’ve got a knack for this thing and why I keep coming back for more—I suppose it has something to do with suffering. And the fact that I’ve gotten good at it the past couple years. There’s something special about fighting and finishing what you’ve start no matter how badly it hurts.
On Saturday, October 27th, I lined up for my third race, the Feedback Cup in Golden, CO. The night before the race, the conditions were terrible. Howling wind smacked the trees against the side of our house. It woke me up a few times in the middle of the night, and I panicked with visions of getting blown right off the course in the first lap. Eventually, I got myself up around 6 a.m., got dressed and packed my things.
On the way over the wind had died down and the most beautiful sunrise blanketed the mountains in pink and purple and orange. And suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore, I was excited for a great day of racing.
An hour or so before the first wave went off, I got my number pinned on and headed out for my pre-ride. For this particular course, I realized how important that is. Had I not, I never would’ve had a strategy to get through the deep sand pit, whether or not I needed to take the stairs one by one or two by two, how much brake to give it on the steep descent or which gear I needed to throw my bike into to get back up the other side. All very important things to sort out before the gun goes off, ya know?
^^^ From the Feedback Sports Facebook page.
My category is usually one of the first of the day, so before I knew it I was lining up on the starting line. This is when my heart starts pounding and my stomach goes sour. It only lasts for a minute or so into the race, then it’s just 45 minutes of bat-out-of-hell kind of riding.
I already mentioned that I won, but it wasn’t an easy win. The second place female was a master’s mountain biker with a serious engine. I passed her on the second lap and she stayed on my tail until we crossed the line 1-2. She finished just 11 seconds behind me. It was the most exciting race; at any given point of those 45 minutes, I felt like I was going to fold. My legs and lungs were working at full capacity; when I had a second to recover, I took it, and then I pressed on the gas some more.
The final 200 meters of the race had a set of two barriers, a wind-y downhill then uphill and a straight sprint to the line. I knew she was better around turns than me, so at the barriers I got off my bike, hopped over, ran like hell, hopped over again, ran next to my bike, swung a leg over the last time and prayed to god her tank was as empty as mine going into the finish.
“Well that was the most exciting race of the day so far! Cat 5 women! Lindsay Edwards will take the win!”
I smiled big and hard and threw a fist in the air. I hate that but I did it anyway because I deserved it. I rolled through the finish, pulled to the side and collapsed off my bike. I stared up at the sky for a second and threw an elbow over my face, my breathing hadn’t even slowed yet.
Second place, Kathy, rolled up next to me and gave me a congratulations high five.
“I tried to catch you! But every time I thought I was close you’d speed away!”
“I know! I did that on purpose! You’re so fast!”
We laughed and coughed and laughed and coughed some more. I tasted the blood at the back of my throat. That was it. That was everything I had. I couldn’t have suffered more if I tried, and I loved every second of it.
^^^ I won chocolate milk at my second race, and won matte finish cleaner this time.
Tomorrow is my fourth race of the season and I heard it is brutal.
Bring it on.
Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>