OPINION COLUMNS

Back in the saddle; A log of my 2017 bicycle races so far

By David Talley | Published Saturday, July 15, 2017
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I wrote a column in January about plans to revisit bicycle racing this year after barely pedaling anywhere in 2016.

I raced a variety of events in college, hitting the road almost every weekend of both semesters to travel around the state for cycling events. But since then I’ve been off my bike more than in the saddle. Last year was the culmination of this, with only one race on the books last July.

But I wanted to make this year different. Despite not riding much, I’ve always loved reading race reports and cycling coverage. Reading other racers’ blogs is partly what inspired me to jump back on the bike, so I pledged to double from 2016 the number of days I spent exercising outside and to enter one race each month and to, at some point, give whoever cares a rundown of how those races went. Here you go.

I started successfully in January, riding the Texas Chainring Massacre 66-mile gravel endurance race in Valley View. Lance Armstrong was there. While he got second (suprising, right?), I got 71st out of about 250 co ntestants. Not bad.

I stayed on with a fairly fast pack and even managed to dodge several wrecks before getting too tired to hold their pace and dropping off the back of the group in the last 7 miles.

I felt pretty good about this race because I passed several prominent, faster riders in the last section after they’d dealt with flat tires earlier in the race. While some may consider that coincidental, I think it means I prepared better than they did.

In February, I raced the DORBA Frozen Endurance Series 50-mile mountain bike race at the Northshore Trails in Grapevine. DORBA stands for Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. The race has nothing to do with the Disney movie, but references the time of year and projected temperature for the contest.

Ironically, it was 80 degrees, Thanks, Texas.

I started pretty poorly in this race but worked my way up through the pack. On a loose, technical climb that caused the field to bottleneck and slow down, I dismounted and ran up the side of the trail. My strategy worked out pretty well until I slipped and smashed my knee.

I rode the next 27 miles with blood running down my leg and finally gave up when I’d filled my sock. I limped back to the finish line and asked to quit. I’ve only abandoned a few races, and it’s always a really frustrating process.

I drove home in pain without immediate plans for a March event and was further sidelined when I had to schedule wisdom teeth surgery near the end of the month.

I spent the early part of March hobbled and unable to talk much. I’d missed any chance to compete, but scheduled a race at Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose for the end of April and hoped I’d have time to get back in shape.

My dad made the drive south with me for the event and paid for a hotel room Saturday night so I’d get a good night’s sleep before my race. We got to town Saturday afternoon and pre-rode the course, which took longer than expected because the race organizers had put together one of the toughest combination of hills I’ve ever ridden. After finishing around 8, we headed back to town but found every restaurant closed.

A server at one restaurant recommended Local Coyote, which supposedly closed later than everything else in town, so we visited there, because, you know Local Coyote sounds like a pretty respectable restaurant. He’s local. The actual restaurant was called Loco Coyote and was a long drive out in the country.

As the last restaurant near open and probably one of the only to serve alcohol, it was packed. We spent several hours waiting there and didn’t get back to our room in time to get a decent amount of sleep, which meant I was yawning on the start line the next morning at 7:45. The race went really well, and I came in third out of about 15 contestants.

I wasn’t able to find a nearby race in May but made up for it in June with a trip to Angel Fire, N.M., for the Chile Challenge Pro XCT. It’s a short race that scales the town’s ski mountain four times, climbing almost 3,000 feet in an already oxygen-thin environment.

I’d wanted to race there for years when I was actually training regularly but never had the time to do so. I again scored third, this time also out of about 15 racers. The trip itself was just as important as the race, and I probably have enough stories for another column.

It’s July, and odds are I won’t have time to get a race in this month. But I’m hoping to make up for that with the Eighter from Decatur Bike Rally in August. This year, the organizers are offering a 100-mile option, and if I attempt it, that too will probably require its own column.

See you on the road!

David Talley is a Messenger reporter.

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