It was Friday afternoon, I had just finished work and returned home to prepare for the trip. It was to be my second SSA Championship. The car was packed and the cameras were powered up but I till had one last test to see if my injury was finally healed.
I shut the door to my exercise room, turned on Nine Inch Nails and started warming up. Ever since I pulled a muscle in my back just before the Sarasota qualifier I had been unable to jump and unable to touch my toes. After fifteen minutes of pilates and stretching I reached for the floor. I could feel the muscles elongate as I exhaled but it worked. Shortly after I was doing plyo jumps and with them a small part of my confidence was restored. I wasn't healed but it would have to be good enough. There was no time left.
Terri and I arrived at Tampa BMX roughly two hours later and just in time for 14 and older practice. I took my time pedaling slowly and easily. Having been off the track for two weeks I was rusty on top of being stiff and a little slow. I got in 8 laps to ensure that I would be able to perform the next day.
The next morning, I woke up early and eased into ten minutes of pilates next to my bed. Terri and I had breakfast at the hotel but then hit the gym for a few minutes on the stationary bike. It didn't matter how I performed on this day so long as I didn't enter the races cold.
The guys in my class are a cool bunch. They are all family men who race alongside their kids. They race hard and fast but with the common sense understanding that we all have to work on Monday morning. These guys all seemed to be prepared for this race. Even on my best day I'd have trouble keeping pace.
I lined up on the gate only a little nervous. Concentrating on my snap I got out well but immediately fell behind. That would be the trend all day. Back injury aside I can honestly say that I tried as hard as I could. I took 5th in all four motos and landed 5th overall.
The time that I spend on the bike only affects me and my opponents but the time I spend on the computer affects many, many people. I am reminded of this every time someone introduces themselves and thanks me for the news, updates and stories. One mother came up to me at the awards ceremony and said that her daughters faces light up every time I mention their names in the race report. Later on that mother returned with her daughter who wanted to have her picture taken with me.
This was the highlight of my weekend. Forget the racing or the pool party or even Better Recognize winning the Sunrise Team competition, those were all great but nothing meant as much to me as when I got to pose for a photo with 9 year old Allyson Mangold. Knowing that I'm inspiring a young person meant more to me than any trophy in the world.