Monday, April 25, 2005

Napa Valley Dirt Classic Race

By: Kathleen Meyer
It was 1995, my first ever mtb race, where my inexperience caused me to crash and fracture my skull. I decided that racing wasn't for me and I should stick to enjoying my bike. The following spring Glenn Wegner convinced me that the Napa Valley Dirt Classic course was so fun that I should go and just ride it like a ride. The course is on private property, usually not open to mountain biking. It was awesome!
Now 10 years later I found myself back there. I have been there many of the years in-between but this time I had company. Having promised my 15 year old that I would pay for him to race if he put in a good effort at the Sea Otter, I had to keep my promise. No reason for me not to race while there too. Jeff wanted Garrett (12 years old and not so into biking) and Mac (our newest addition to the family-from the beagle rescue) to come along too.
Saturday night at a Motel 6 in Fairfield was meant to give us a good night's rest but we didn't plan on a beagle in unfamiliar territory. Just as we were drifting off, Mac alerted us to the possibility of danger off somewhere outside. A sign of things to come! Patrick (who had avoided sharing the bed with his brother by sleeping on the floor under the window with the air conditioner/heater) had knocked the cover off the heater during one of his many tosses and turns. Mac, woken by the sound, sat on the bed continually growling at this invader...grrruuu.....grrruuu....grrruuu. I was finally forced out of bed to retrieve the object from a still sleeping Patrick and able to show Mac that the enemy was taken care of. It was the kind of night everyone hopes not to get just before a grueling race.
We got there way too early. As I registered Patrick and me, I realized I was in a different age category. As I showed it to Jeff, he said I should change it and race with the women I know, down one age category. I asked and they agreed. Good job!
The mice were coming in as were the Velo Bellas (Meredith) and fellow TWWers. Missing was Erin. The excuse I heard for her not showing was to lame to repeat.  Sorry Erin...    :)
My friend Walt (Walt introduced Berry Stevens to mountain biking and trailwork) came up to visit us. I had asked him to come see Patrick race and he was there. He has been a great friend for the boys and me over the years.
We were at the start line when Julie Brown (I can't remember that other name! ...Barrott) came up looking for her group. Turns out Paule didn't help her pay attention-she was in the original category I singed into. Their start would be 6 minutes later and there wouldn't be any of the women she usually raced with. As we with lined up with 2 minutes to go, I called out to the starter. I explained the situation and asked him if she could start with us. He called for her on the mic, had her come up and join us. It eventually caused some confusion in the scoring but made for a much better race for all.
Patrick started 2 minutes behind us. I wasn't really into racing but the course was fun. I spent the first half wondering if I should stop and wait for Patrick, then I could ride in with him. I had forgotten just how hard this course could be. Not everyone will understand the conflict going on inside me. Here I have taught this kid how to ride. He enjoys it, we both do. Our times riding together have been a special time for him to talk to me. Yet this course is so tough, I kept thinking "what if something bad should happen while he is on my watch?". Was he really ready for it? Then again, finishing on his own without mom hovering is important to helping him become an independent person. Really tough call. It's not always so easy being mom!
Once the serious climbing started I let go of the worry. For one thing, I have always climbed that heinous hill and even though I am not in racing shape, I didn't want that to be an excuse.
I made the hill, had two cramping calves and a good sprint at the finish. Coming across the finish line, Garrett and Walt were there with hugs. I, of course, let them both hold me upright as I stood there collecting my hugs!
No one at the finish line had any horror stories about crashing kids on the course so I figured with Patrick 30 minutes back, I'd take a quick shower. Imagine my surprise to come out of the building to see Patrick standing there with his bike. "You didn't finish the race?" He replied he had. "Did you cut the course"? No he replied. It took a while before I actually believed he had not only finished but he did much better than I expected. The results don't lie.
02:27:23 Patrick
02:15:31 Mom
Good job mom!!!!
Mac and Patrick were in bed by 8pm last night. Wonderful!!!

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