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The Big Day Arrives-the BC Bike Race - Part 5

Payson riding a bikeThe ever-present nervous excitement surrounded stage one of the BC Bike Race. The field was stacked with some heavy hitters, and as always, I was feeling slightly out of place. I’m pretty sure my heart rate was skyrocketing, just lining up next to some of the best in North America. Throughout the neutral roll out, I was doing everything within my power to maintain an outward sense of calm, as the group moved ever closer to the timing start mat.

It’s Go Time

Once we hit the true start to the stage, the fireworks went off. All the big names put down the power and made it clear who was in contention for the overall … and I found myself on their wheels. Digging deep to follow the leaders up the first climb, my confidence and sense of belonging rose with each pedal rotation. Eventually, the sharp attacks started and I backed off, knowing it would be a suicidal idea to burn too many matches this early in the week.

I settled into my own rhythm and rode a solid remainder of the day solo. Due to some mechanicals with the riders ahead, I crossed the line in 5th overall, a result I never could’ve imagined only two hours earlier … and this result was exactly what I needed: a confirmation that I belonged to throwing punches at the front of the race.

Feeling Confident

It was as if an entire season of yo-yoing off the leaders in big races, while simultaneously riding away from the group at local events, was finally coming together. I felt strong, confident, and finally the fleeting feeling of self-efficacy was growing … all due in no small part to the help of Noble Chiropractic.

Throughout the remainder of the week, results were predictable, which suited me fine. A lead group of about eight would establish itself early, and then the world cup riders would go off the front, leaving us five remaining to have our own separate race.
I moved around slightly in the overall, dropping back to seventh, then up to sixth, and coming into the last day was 45 seconds behind the rider in fifth. We had become friends throughout the week, but at the end of the day, we were both there for the same reason: performance.

Pedaling to Make the Top Five

The fifth place spot at BCBR is a coveted result, a sign that you were gunning for the top positions, and have undoubted potential. (In all honesty, sixth place has the same meaning, but going “top five” just has a special ring to it.) With exhausted legs, we all rolled up to the final day, knowing there was one more chance to empty the tank.

Personally, I knew I had a few matches left to burn, but I knew they were in short supply and hoped I’d have enough to get me across the finish line. Once the gun went off, I turned the dial to eleven. Matt (the rider in fifth overall) stuck to my wheel like glue, and we traded attacks throughout the first hour of the stage.

I was hurting, but could tell he was hurting just the same. My mind flashed back to sessions with Dr. Noble where we worked on mental fortitude. This fostered the idea that this pain was only a figment of my imagination, and I could push through and surprise even myself. So that’s exactly what I did. I knew I was slightly stronger on the steep sections, so every time the trail pitched up I attacked, doing everything possible to break the elastic between myself and Matt.

Again and again he matched my accelerations, sticking to my rear wheel as if there was a static rope holding us together. Finally, I surged, and noticed he suddenly was a bike length behind me, a characteristic sign of struggle. Immediately he was back, but at that point I had the taste of blood. Throwing off the pain in my legs, I doubled down and put every available watt I had into the pedals, surging up the hill as if the finish line was only a few meters away.

Three minutes later, I eased slightly, knowing that was the hardest interval I had done in recent times … and Matt was nowhere to be seen. Even with the small burst of confidence, the race was far from over. Matt is an incredible descender and had made up almost 30 seconds on me during a previous stage.

Pushing Toward the Finish Line

Additionally, the unforgiving terrain had already claimed many tires and punctures were a constant threat. I settled into a hard tempo and pushed my exhausted legs to the summit of the final climb. All I had to do now was ride the best descent of my life, avoid crashing, make up a minute, and I’d have landed myself in fifth place at BCBR.

This was easier said than done while riding exhausted and on brand-new trails. But I knew I had two things going for me: I trusted my training, and I wanted it … bad. So I turned the suspension fully open, took a deep breath, and charged toward the finish line.

In the next blog in our series, find out how Payson places!

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