Monday, May 26, 2008

A late 12 hour report.

Well, it's been more than a week since this race, but I've been kinda preoccupied, so my apologies for not getting the post up sooner. Enjoy...
At some point in your life (specifically related to cycling in this case), you have to be able to separate your performance from the quality of your day. It’s a good thing that I have already been able to do that, since I’ve had 2 not so good races in a row now. Along with what was possibly the largest Sycamore Cycles contingent ever assembled in one place, I went to Tsali to be on a 12 hour team. I always look forward to this race because of how much fun it is, and this year was no exception. We had 16 people racing for us, on a total of 4 teams. If you want to hear about those races, go check out the Sycamore race page for all the gory details. (
I had gotten talked into doing the running start on the first lap, which I thought was OK at the time, but in retrospect, probably wasn’t all that good of an idea. I warmed up on the bike, and then went to the line about a quarter mile from where my bike was laying on the side of the trail. I’m not sure who came up with the idea to start a bike race out with running, but I’m sure that it had something to do with the hilarity of watching a bunch of people in lycra and uber stiff soled shoes doing something completely out of their element and suffering immensely. I’m sure that watching that spectacle was the reason. Anyway, I got to my bike with the leaders, and then tried to recover as we sped up the gravel road climb. I passed the guy I knew to be the fastest in the race as he was fixing a low tire, and proceeded to lead for about half a lap until he caught back on. I was riding in the lead group of 3 and feeling pretty good about myself when I hit a root wrong and burped all the air out of my tire. Being the super mechanic that I am, I managed to get it inflated again with my trusty CO2 inflate and got back to riding. I held the gap fairly close, and came in for the hand off to Tristan. After cooling down and having my first of many post-lap Dr. Peppers, I settled in for some good, old fashioned heckling. The problem with this race is the extremely short amount of time that you have between your laps. You never get enough time to just chill. Anyway, I got back on the trail and was feeling pretty good, and having a great time on the fast sections of the course. The good times quickly ended when I came back to the transition area and saw that my lap had gotten about 2 minutes slower. I rode cooling down, utterly dejected and crushed that my efforts were to no avail in maintaining speed. Just as I was feeling my lowest, the Skeletor galloped by on his Steed of Pestilence, clutching a scythe in one rotting hand, and shot a wretched grimace over his shoulder at me. I felt all my remaining traces of happiness and speed leach away into the dusty ground and I trembled, my skin suddenly cold as a sepulcher. I was hoping that my soul wasn’t about to be taken by the devil, when I realized that the cold skin was probably just from the person emptying their water bottle on me, and that my sudden fatigue was from the efforts of the previous 45 minutes. Time for another DP. The next two laps were similar… My legs got weaker and weaker, and my thoughts drifted more and more to the good points on the trail, rather than on the suffering that I was enduring for the team. I greatly enjoyed the day, and the first Sycamore team ended up in 2nd place… Not bad for 2 mechanicals and a horse that blew out his engine. I was super happy to have this girl with some crazy shoes there to support... She always makes races more fun. One of my favorite parts of the race experience is when we stop at the Huddle House for our traditional post-race dinner/breakfast, and I get to relive the day with the people who were there to experience it with me. By the time that we get done with eating, we ususally don't get back until around 2 or 3. By that time, I am suffering hardcore, and rarely can stay awake for more than 10 minutes out of the HH. Having Punky Brewster in the car with me really helped me out in that respect. Inspite of having raced super strong all day long, and having layed it down way better than I did (really, only a couple of minutes behind me every lap... and she didn't fade towards the end), she was strong enough to stay awake and keep me company so that we didn't die in the middle of the night. Thanks.
I am looking forward to getting in some really hard training this next month, and hopefully my next race will be better than my last two have been.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A dead Duck. Town.

So, I forgot to update my blog after this past weekend, but it was fairly uneventful anyway, so whatever. Julia and I went over to Ducktown Tennessee for the SERC race that they were holding at the Olympic whitewater center. This was Julia’s first race after she had gotten back, and was forced (without much effort) to race a rental bike since hers was out of commission. We were driving over to meet Tristan and his sister at the course and then planned to drive over to the house where we were staying. We ended up getting a later start than we had anticipated, and a mid-trip Subway stop ensured that we would miss riding with everyone else. After driving for what seemed like forever on narrow curvy roads, and then on larger straight roads that didn’t seem to go anywhere and took forever, we finally got to the race. It was being held at the Olympic Whitewater Center, where, I presume, they held the Whitewater Olympic events. The flags and rings and torch helped my reach that conclusion, but it’s still just a guess.
The course was one that was super fun to ride, but not so much fun to race. It had a steep and long climb right out of the gate, and then eventually headed downhill on a tight, twisty, smooth singletrack trail. After rolling up and down for several miles, you got dumped out onto a false flat road about a mile from the finish. It was fun, but not really my style of racecourse. We rode on Saturday, had a great time, got some dinner, and went to bed for our pre-race beauty sleep.
Race day dawned, and I was not feeling my best. My stomach was all not happy, and I had a whole lot of trouble keeping food down at all. Needless to say, I wasn’t really looking forward to the race at all. We got there and started warm up, and went to the line. There were 9 riders in my field, and I was pretty confident that I would be able to beat all but 2 of them. I got about 1.2 hard pedal strokes in off the line, and realized that this was not going to be a good day. I quickly had a 10ft gap open up in the first 10 yards, and was giving it all that my legs had to latch back on. We hit the climb, and I was able to get the last wheel, but didn’t have the legs to move up. I managed to keep the leaders in sight for the first climb, and I was hoping that everything would magically start working after the descent. No such luck. I quickly lost sight of everyone, and couldn’t seem to keep my bike going in the direction that I was pointing it. This was definitely one of those days that NOTHING was working even remotely right for me, and I couldn’t seem to pull it together. I figured that since I was entirely sucking, I would work on mental toughness in the face of utter breakdown. That worked for a little while… until I hit a little climb that I normally wouldn’t have had any trouble making in the big dog, but today had to shift down to my granny and had a lot of trouble turning the pedals over. At that point, mental toughness went out the window, and I started laughing at how bad I was sucking.
I rolled up to the start/finish, and saw Tristan moving at a walking pace. He had totally flatted, and had already dropped out. We stopped and talked to his parents for a while, watched everyone come by, and then went out for a slow person’s lap. My only goal was to be back before Julia finished, and I was pretty sure that she was moving faster than we were. We ended up seeing her on the road section before the finish, and I decided to ride with her to the line. I struggled to keep her wheel as she was easily putting down more power than I could match. She ended up dominating the competition (no surprise there), and having a great time in the process. I guess her result made it worth the trip, but it sucks to go that far and, well, suck.
I’m just about done with exams, which means that summer is about here, and I can devote myself to riding my bike and getting ready for nationals.
12 Hours of Tsali is up next, and I am really excited to get to race with the super Sycamore team. I’m pretty sure that the shop is sending 4 teams out to do the event, and we should come up with at least one win. Stay posted!