After watching the Dakar coverage I just couldn't wait to get out there. I almost always have butterflies the first few races and this time was no different. My mindset when this happens is to just go out and have a nice little trail ride - keep the bike and body safe.
So I lined up in between a couple of fellas and noticed there was a bush in front of me. I told the guy next to me he could go first, I wasn't out there to race. But then there was one minute before the banner dropped and I saw that I could probably bump up over the bush roots and go through the bush. I usually get a good start - so when the banner dropped I started, hesitated to see what the guy next to me was doing, his first kick didn't catch so I popped the clutch and went through the bush. I ran up to third gear and then backed off.
I had a pretty good jump on maybe half the line. I moved left out of the dust and onto a good line. I got up near the end of the bomb run and pulled over to turn on my handlebar mounted bluetooth speaker and turn on my GoPro. Like I said, I wasn't there to race - just get better and finish.
I rode along fairly slowly and very in control for several miles and even at that slow pace I started catching people. When I see someone in front of me that I can catch I just can't help but try to run them down (catch up to them).
So I picked up the pace a little, caught a few guys, picked up the pace a little more and passed some more. It felt like I was moving pretty good (for me) and still in control - maybe I am getting a little better.
It was a pretty uneventful race. I kept up my pace pretty good, passed several more people and didn't crash. My fitness still isn't where it needs to be but I have decided to make this my year. I've set a goal to race 20 times this year. It's going to be hard on my family because the boys can be a handful.