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you can’t judge a racer by her mountain bike

Nikola Toledo, Lifestyle Editor, Puma Press

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Have you ever participated in a bike race? Been a member of a triathlon team? I was in the best shape of my life, running wise. I’d already completed multiple full and half marathons across the U.S. and had many 5K’s and 10K’s under my belt.

It was May 20, 2007 in sunny Tempe, Arizona. I was the bike person for my team. A week before the big race, I asked my trainer if he would inspect my bike. Without looking at my bike, he assures me that everything is fine and I should not worry about it.

I show up on race day with my bike. My trainer is freaking out saying why did I not tell him my bike was a mountain bike? The other 3,000 bikers had road bikes, also known as race bikes, light in weight, slender in size; and I had a big clunky Trek mountain bike with big knobby tires.

Time to gather up by the start line. I hear the shot to start the race. What do you know? I am off to a slow start with other bikers blazing by. I hear my trainer on the sidelines yelling, “Hurry up! You’re not a damn princess!”

I am pedaling, pacing myself for the 24-mile leg of the race. Bikers are still passing me, but I am thanking the Great Spirit for old people who are still behind me. A couple of rude bikers pass me, yelling, “get out of the [email protected]#n way!”

Thinking to myself, “Why do they have to be so rude when they should clearly see biking is not my forte,” remembering their bikes and the outfits they are wearing. The first guy is riding an orange burst Cannondale bike, and his outfit is almost the same color but more sunset orange. The second guy is wearing a funny aerodynamic bike helmet that makes him look almost alienlike. Do I dare think a bad thought?

I pedal around a corner. I see a biker off to the side of the road down the embankment. It is Mr. Orangeburst! He had a bad wreck and his tires are busted!

The last hill before the finish line, what do you know? Mr. Alien who yelled profanity at me to get out of “his” way is walking, carrying his bike propped on his shoulder. I pass him.

My turn… “Get out of the [email protected]#n way!”

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you can’t judge a racer by her mountain bike