I awoke and thought about the nightmare I had just had, realizing it was not a nightmare but my night lap I had just been reliving. Within the first 100 yards of my night lap, I had fallen about 10 times. Somewhere during that lap, I had decided to give up racing, I couldn't imagine why I raced for average results, I couldn't imagine why I paid for the privilege of suffering. When I came to that final uphill that leads back to the campsite, I had thought about ways of short cutting the course. I couldn't believe I even considered it, but that's how low I was feeling.
Thankfully Dave doing back to back laps gave me time to recuperate both physically and mentally. I got up for my third lap, dressed quickly, and met Dave at the finish line. I didn't have to wait too long before Dave rolled in.
I was not in any hurry to do my third lap. I walked to my bike still adjusting my camelback. Got on my bike and decided I was just going out for a ride. Wow, am I glad I did that third lap. The sun was just coming up, and immediately the moisture that had covered every rock and root was gone. The trail was even a bit tacky, pretty nice conditions.
I was actually having fun on the third lap. My front derailleur was still shot, but this time I left it so that I had a 1x9 using the middle ring. Surprisingly, my legs did well with that ring and I was able to make it up all of the hills except the last one with that gear ratio.
Traction was good, mental energy was very good, physical energy not bad. I finished the third lap in just over two hours and had not really pushed it at all. I'm sure I could have had a lap time equal to my first lap time had I pushed at all. The fact that we were going to finish in fourth place regardless of my lap time was what kept me from going any faster.
I got back, and Dave went out for his fifth lap. I had to wake him up, told him that fifth place couldn't catch us, and we couldn't catch third place, so no reason to go out if he didn't want to. But he wanted to. Dave got back from his fifth lap, I would've had time to go out for a fourth lap, but there really was no need, and I felt completely satisfied with my three laps.
Jame and Mike had packed up and gone, and it was just Dave and I closing down camp. I sat down eating one of the best chicken burritos I had ever had in my life, and thought about the odd sights over the last 24 hours. I remembered the hula hoop girl out in the woods, twirling lighted hula hoops while a disco ball and boom box accompanied her. Surreal. I remembered hearing circus music, rounded the corner and the local ems guys were doing the circus theme, and then announced: It's Three Ring Circus!!! (the name or our team, I guess they were keeping track. It was priceless) I remembered wanting to quit any and all types of racing at about 2:00 a.m. I remembered taking a huge endo some time during the night lap and amazing myself that all I got was some good abrasions as the rocks softened my fall. I remembered sitting around the campfire listening to the Pens with the Stanley Cup, and then all of the car horns and people roaring in support. I remembered running into a ton of people I've gotten to know over the years racing.
So yes, when all was said and done, we were all making plans for coming back next year to give it one more go.
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