The obvious thought is the bike riding, practice dismounts, shouldering the bike, bunny-hopping the plank; mud, sand and grass-handling skills. If you have these even remotely in check, then being between the tapes is made easier. Time invested is repaid, most of the time.
These are just polish to base miles and intense sessions, which in turn are the 120-grit paper to the solid and core of most usual days: life and attitude.
For most of us, turning up to a race is a win. Whether you juggle work, family and bike to be there, or the inner demons that plague us all at times, rolling up to the grid and starting is a small, significant and steadfast victory.
Local races are put together with commitment, and often against the odds: land access, shelter and parking – let alone a decent course and time to set up. Showing up supports the scene, and yet, to get to the point of practice laps, every day has been between the tapes, all the minutiae adds up – every tired morning, every step, every rest.
All the moments you think you are not improving or riding, you most likely are. There is no split between the race and the everyday. It’s just taped off, charged for, and you make it an ‘event’. Specific training counts, but your attitude and acceptance of what is possible will be what really counts.
We can dress it up with suffering, glory, spirit and competition, but all we’re doing is turning circles on the infinite loop, and the race makes us feel and become into being. The strain, effort and energy focuses us into the moment.
An intense, chaotic and muddy experience that rewards passion, spirit and commitment. Or just Sunday smashing loops in the mud with beer after. It’s two sides of the tape.