The first Midnight in Milford Mills night race is this month. Should I follow my heart or follow my brain?
Heart: Imagine the carnage of a night race. The stories, the bragging rights, and maybe even the t-shirt! The run-up to race day, riding the course every other night and watching my split times drop. Carb loading the night before, suiting up, a driving to the start area with the sunroof open and AC/DC cranking. Registration. The jostling as we congregate at the starting line. The race starts. The mad acceleration across the open field and into the woods. Trying to find the right spot in the pack - too fast and you'll explode - too slow and you'll get stuck in traffic. Now in the groove and riding race pace...
Brain: ...pushing hard, harder than on any of the practice rides. Bombing the twisty downhill section a little faster than I should, on the ragged edge of disaster. Now climbing again, legs burning, lungs heaving. Then down. And up again. Down. Up. Getting a little bit tingly - is it nerves or is it oxygen deficit due to the race pace? Time to choke down some energy (Shot Bloks are my preference) but breathing so heavily it just turns into a thick gluey mess in my mouth. Wash it down with some water just in time to start the next climb. Why am I doing this? I have a perfectly good time riding this course hard during practice or just for fun, but this is starting to seem like work. More up. More down. Yes, definitely work. Just make sure nobody passes me. Try to catch that rabbit up ahead. Up. Down. Finally drag my sorry self across the finish line, mid-pack assuming no major mechanicals.
Heart: That was awesome (now that it's over). The buzz after the race. Put on some dry clothes. Checking the finish times as they are posted - how did I stack up against others in my riding group? The appetite starts to crank up. One hot dog. Two. Three. Comparing notes with fellow riders - remember that sketchy turn, did you see that poor bastard who bonked on the last lap? What a blast, can't wait until the next race.
In my case the brain usually speaks loudest, but I have found it just takes one weak moment for the heart to break through and make a commitment that the brain can't undo. Stay tuned.