As a follow up from my post about the Firebird, I wanted to add some after the-heat-of-the-moment thoughts on the weekend. My blog was pretty negative; I knew that when I was writing it. It’s a strange thing to go to a race, not feel all that good, win, then leave with a big prize in your hands. It was easy for me to sit at home afterwards, aching from a hard fought race, dehydrated and sunburnt and think about everything that didn’t go very well. It’s a little harder to acknowledge what was going on in the background – the stuff that I pay so little attention to as a racer that it becomes scenery. Things like electronic timing, flawlessly marked courses, and closed road starts that shut down an entire town.
I’ve been a little spoiled this year with racing; I’ve gone from doing the ProXCT races around the country, to the Whiskey 50 in Arizona, and very little in between. These races have been so well run, that you forgot any effort actually goes into making them happen. The US Cup races in Texas and California had international fields, live coverage and massive payouts. All the result of years of behind the scenes work by paid promotors, and plenty of unpaid volunteers. When I turn up and suffer my guts out on the course, it’s very easy be blinkered into your own selfish race world. That’s why I’m doing this, right?
So why is the Firebird in Eagle a little different? Unlike some other promotion companies, it seems like Mike McCormack puts everything out there for the world to see. When the forest service failed in their promise to permit his course, he came up with an alternative, and when the alternative got pummeled by the unholy combination of cows and snow, he fixed it so we as racers had barely a clue of the carnage that preceded the race. In the end, the Firebird was all about providing a platform for the town of Eagle to shine on. I’m lucky enough to have spent time up there riding my bike (Christa’s family live just around the corner in Edwards); my disappointment in the course entirely echoed what I know is in the hills around the town – the unending loops of alpine singletrack that Mike had planned for us to race on. I can now feel his frustration. Instead of complaining about the course, I’ll just come back next year, fitter and stronger and ready to be challenged by the race and the ever strengthening fields in Colorado. In the meantime, I’ll try not to break myself learning to ride the street swell longboard that I walked away with.
In the end, there’s always two sides. My side was one of the harder efforts I’d made all season, the other side was a town festival that I was lucky to be part of. It did truly seem like the start of the Colorado race season – I can’t wait for the rest of the summer.