Walking up the banking is never something I’ve enjoyed. I usually slip. This time is no different, and I take a little moment to get my footing again.
Looking up to the crowd while I clip in my right, then looking down to make sure I’ve got the right footing. I balance and loosen my grip on the Rail. I love this thing, so smooth. So consistent. I could sit up there and steep in the nerves for days. But all good things must end, and soon enough the Official walks up and tells us how it is. He emphasizes looking over your shoulder while passing. I make note he didn’t tell the Cat 1/2/3’s this.
Ah, to be a novice.
The whistle goes and we make our way down. I snap down quick, playing on the fears of the first time or nearly first time racers. Doesn’t matter where you line up, just have the balls to take the position you need. I’ll admit, I didn’t always feel this flippant about starting from the Rail.
12 Lap Point-A-Lap means position is everything. There isn’t time to let things ‘Shake Out’. I like these type of races the most. Visceral, I think, might be the term.
Fifth. I’m pretty okay with that. The rest file in behind. So much potential energy. So many nerves. Growing every meter we go. I can see it in the faces of those who want something out of this race. I can see it in the faces of those who said they didn’t care about this race. We’ve 50 meters to go, the start line beckoning like a Siren. The Official is raising his orange gun. All eyes on us.
I look forward and all I see is clear boards, clear sky. I don’t hear anything except that gunshot as my front wheel passes over the white and black. A million electrical signals are released as my ass moves a centimeter off my saddle. Every muscle in my leg tightens. My heart beats just one last time, forcing as much oxygenated blood down, down into the legs who aren’t even aware yet. My pupils start to dilate, my knuckles turn white.
And if it’s a good night – a smile comes to my face.