Why am I doing this?
It has been about two years since I wanted to do a 100Km MTB race, but it all sounded too difficult in my mind. About 4 months ago I discovered there was going to be one of these races here in Baja, the MTB 100km Baja Ultra Endurance. Well I decided that I would go for it. And I was absolutely determined to finish that race!
With only a little over two months before the race to train, I knew that I would have to pay the price of training on such a short time span. I love biking in our wonderful town of Ensenada. I like it so much I’m already wondering what am I doing here trying to write this article instead of being on another wonderful ride.
I guess it’s because I want to try to share a little of what I enjoy with the reader. My bike will have to wait for now.
The Pain While I Train
As the old saying claims, “No pain, no gain,” My total training was about 1300 Km. Oh, how I enjoyed each one of them, from days at 110 °F to beautiful fresh nights full of stars and the perfect loneliness where I find quality time to talk with my creator.
Some of them were on really tough slopes that challenge your determination to keep going, when the heat is making you shiver. Yes, please don’t ask me why, but extreme exposure to the sun and heat makes me shiver and actually feel cold. The sweat fogs your protective eyewear and manages to get in your eyes. Then, you are wrestling against the natural tendency of your body to close your eyes when you’re trying to look at the rocks and ruts and other obstacles coming on the road. Eventually you try to clean your eyes with the soft side of your gloves which always results in your eyewear getting drops of sweat that blurs your vision for the rest of the ride–all of these while your heart is pumping like crazy. You can feel the gobs of blood passing through your arteries, and your lungs trying to keep up with the tremendous oxygen demand that your muscles are putting on them and that have you breathing heavily through your mouth.
With Effort Comes Joy
All the climbs come with their corresponding reward. By the time you have conquered whatever hill you were on, next comes the drop. That is when I forget the pain and start enjoying every foot, every shake. My Fox suspension invites me to go faster and faster eating everything I throw at it, be it a rock or a rut or a bump, anything. Now my entire body is on intrepid mode; my brain is used 100% in figuring how to handle the oncoming hazards. Now my arms and legs are in perfect balance with my body weight shifting between them as I solve the ever coming puzzle of threats with my repertoire of cycling techniques. Man and machine, fused as one, I can almost feel what is going on with my wheels. My bike talks to me with the intimacy of the machine language reserved only for a few, whose words are vibrations, noises, smells, blows. But my dear reader let me translate that into plain English.
My bike is yelling, screaming, I am OK. Go faster, I can take this. Go faster. Change gears now. My disk brakes are really hot, but they were made to be abused. So just keep going. Yeeehaaa! Don’t let go of the handlebar. Your life depends on your grip. You can fully trust your pedals. You’re solidly attached to them. Ooops. That hit was a little too hard. I’m OK. Lets keep going.
If everything seems under control you are just not going fast enough…. Mario Andretti
Joy Also Comes in Calm
Some other times it is a peaceful ride on pavement usually around the Ensenada-Ojos Negros Detour, with a light breeze, so easy that I can even let go the handlebar and just enjoy!
Turning my lights off and suddenly watching appear before my eyes thousands of stars along the milky way on a very dark sky while riding is so nice that I apologize to the reader, but I just cannot transmit what it really is. The celestial events like a moon rise or a moon set just as well as the amazing sunsets that we get to enjoy here, have always amazed me.
And the Race?
Well, the race that started as an end, and training as the means, happened to turn around, and I had 95% of the fun and the learning before the actual race, and 5% that day. The neat thing is that I don’t need a race anymore to get motivated and go enjoy a ride.
In case you were wondering, yes, I finished with a terrible time of 9 hours. I was among the last in time and among the first in enjoyment.