Ace Speedway, Altamahaw, NC. The Ramblers headed over to Altamahaw to ride the last race of the Ace Speedway Summer Series. Having never raced a sanctioned race, I was nervous as a cat all afternoon. “I really shouldn’t be doing this,” I kept saying to myself; “I have no business out there.” I was going anyway.
The reason I was going was our own Good Doctor, after racing Ace all summer, found himself leading the series’ “C” class rider’s points race, and he needed help to defend his lead. In other words, the Ramblers were called up to ride support. If we could keep the Doctor’s nose out of the wind, counter attacks from the others’ who threatened his lead, and lead him out on the final lap (provided we were still there), we would’ve done our job well. I was up for helping, but the more I tried to grasp all of what I didn’t know: the venue, crit racing etiquette, USCF one-day license forms, where I pin my number, where the toilet is — it wore on me.
The anxiety of the unknown is the trouble. Most of my life is managing the variables that I can’t foresee or know. I constantly have to be brought back to the humbling reality that I don’t know and ultimately can’t control outcomes. It’s terribly frustrating. I think this all goes back to what I call my “proportion disorder.” What I mean by that is that I have an optimism which is not based on a sober courage but rather my optimism is based on denial and a self-fashioned reality. For example, I can remember as a 30 year old trying to out sprint a group teenagers. in a foot race. I was never fast as a teenager, but I wasn’t that slow. I was that slow at 30. Now, having celebrated a couple of 39th birthday anniversaries, was I going to do the same? Was I going out there with a wildly disproportionate view of my own abilities?
We arrived at 5:30, plenty of time to get dressed and signed in. On the track at just after 6:00pm to warm up, we received instruction on who we were to mark during the race. I road for 25 minutes — at least, burned off some of that anxiety, and was ready to take the line when the whistle blew.
As we lined up, and listened to the organizing official announce the points standings, rules, etc…. Chum turned on Tailights‘ red, flashing, tailight which, we were happy to see, was still flashing at races’ end. The race began with Chum and I on the back row behind Tailights and the Good Doctor. I had some trouble getting into my big chainring at the first turn and found myself dead last. I caught back on and road on the outside just behind Tailights and in front of Greg as we headed into turns 3 and four. The pelaton was a little nervous as everyone was trying to settle down and find the groove. On the third lap I was riding in front of JMartin who was marking the Doctor, when Pow! Ffffff. I flatted. I threw my hand up veered off to the right, and I was done.
Big Red finished first! Wow! One might say, I raced for 3/4 of a mile, for $23. I was mocked a little for that, but I must say the positive spin was that I paid $23 to not have race 12 miles with my heart rate at 175 bpm, and yet enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship of the ramblin Ramblers. Congratulations Doc!