Wet Behind the Ears

It was one of those days when almost everything went right. Great weather, amazing track, solid opponents, good health and rising confidence. With all of those pluses you could only imagine that I was shredding in style but you would be wrong. The truth is that I got smoked.

Orlando BMX is a long, completely clay track with high dusty berms. It has a fantastic starting hill, perfect downward angle and an exhilarating first jump. I'll admit that it took a few laps before overcoming the fear of hitting that jump at full speed. Once the jitters were replaced with eagerness, it was on!

As we lined up for the first moto I looked at my opponents - William, Rodrigo and Samuel. They were all more experienced and a couple of them knew this track by heart. Calculating my chances was easy but still I decided to use the first moto to see how we measured up.

The gate snapped down but I missed it. By the time I reached the first jump they were already in front of me. I spent the rest of the lap seeing if my pedaling could catch anyone in the corners. Nope, by the final straight I had fallen further behind.

Second moto, now there were three of us. The gate snapped and I missed it. Once again I started behind with no prospect of catching up. This time it was clear what went wrong. My frustration was palpable. My friends noticed the problem.

"The gate went down and then you snapped forward. Your snap was fine but your tire was still behind the gate instead of over it." Stephen Gerardi recognized my down mood but reminded me that I had only been racing for a year. "Alex, I've been racing since I was twelve. It takes a long time to learn this stuff. You've already learned so much. Imagine where you'll be in seven years."

Photo by Michelle Pineda
While I know that Stephen is right, seven years is a long way off. My focus was on the day at hand. There would only be two if us in the third moto and I still had a chance. I stood where I could see the gate and hear the commands. I watched the gate drop over and over timing the cadence in my head until the count was memorized.

Photo by Michelle Pineda
Rodrigo and I got on the gate. I set my body position, waited for the command, counted too quickly and thunk. I hit the gate. My day of racing was over.

So, there is no question what I need to learn. Pondering through the night I accepted the outcome but instead of letting it get me down, I moved on. Terri and I hit a water park the next day to drown my depression on the slides of Aquatica. The added bonus of racing in Orlando is that there are plenty of other things to do if you have a bad day. 


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