Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Snake

The Start
Me getting in the draft of Wild Bill/ Terrapin Racing

We started the weekend on Friday. I have found that it is so much less stressful to take the entire day before the race off. Sleep in, load up, and head out. The only hitch was that Rhonda woke up with a head cold. She was game and said we should go to the race anyway.

We hit the road and headed down to Dalton, GA for the 3rd and last in the Snake Creek Gap TT series. I was excited but not sure what to expect. My previous time was 4:07 hrs, and my best time from last year on the single speed was 3:57. I was a little discouraged that I had not beat that time yet, considering that this year I am on an actual training program.
We stopped at River's End Restaurant in the Nantahala River Gorge for lunch, before heading on the GA.
We checked into the hotel, got some dinner, watched the food network then went to bed.
Saturday morning, I got up and went through my coffee and bagel ritual then went to check in, back to the hotel to pick Rhonda and Jubal up, then off to the start. I am so glad that I have a personal shuttle to the start. I think that if I had to ride the shuttle, I would not be doing this race.
We got to the start, got unloaded and as I was standing in line for the restroom, I suddenly was overcome with nausea. Ok, that was weird, that usually does not come until 4 hrs into a race, when I am depleted. I had been eating and drinking all morning and was not so sure what was going on. It went away after a couple of minutes and I felt fine.
I started well. One of my goals was to not go out too hard. This has been a common mistake for me. I figured that at this point, if I continue to make mistakes, then I was throwing away all of the training hours that I had put in so far. So, I had my plan and I was going to stick to it.
I focused on keeping a high cadence and a steady heart rate. The day was beautiful. Shorts and short sleeves, short fingered gloves. The sky was overcast, and there was a slight breeze on the ridges. The trails were mostly dried out but the spots that don't see the sun this time of year were muddy, and the creeks were up a little bit.
I was feeling steady but not fast. I was actually feeling a little slow, and mentally wondering if all of my planned training was helping and if it was worth it.
About 10 miles into the race, I realised that not a lot of people had passed me. That got me to wondering. Then I started doing some math, and since I am not great at math, especially when I am focused on riding, I did the math about 5 or 6 times. At my current rate, I would get to the half way point ahead of my normal 2 hr mark.
Then suddenly on a climb, a wave of riders caught up to me and I heard from behind:" Single speeder back!!", in a very commanding voice. As if telling everybody in the vicinity that he somehow had the right of way on this climb just because he was on a single speed. I'm pretty sure that if that is what he thought, he was wrong. So, I held my ground, someone called " On your right" so I kept spinning and gave him enough room to pass. He tried, bobbled, fell and I found my toes stuck in his front wheel. Somehow I did not go down, he apologized and I went on.
After the terrain leveled to an easier incline I heard "single speeder back" call out " On your left". That was all fine and dandy but I had heard people coming up behind me, so I had purposely moved left. The trail at this point was nicely groomed and almost wide enough for 3 bikes. For some reason at this point, I preferred the left line. So, I moved left, giving the 2-3 riders behind me way more than enough room to pass.
Again I heard "On your left", then once more, a little louder " I said, On your left!!!".
At one point in my life, I would have slammed on my brakes and asked him what his problem was, I have done it before, on a road ride, when someone yelled at me. I don't like to be yelled at.
So, something close to this little conversation ensued:
Single Speeder: I said on your left, that means you HAVE to move over.
Me: No, you come up behind me and ask if you can pass and I say on my right.
SS: No, I called the left line so you HAVE to move over.
In my head:(I'm really not sure that he can tell me where to ride on a trail, I'm certain that if he wants to get around me on the right, there is plenty of room, I am riding as far left as I can to make sure he has room, what is up with this dude?)
Me: No, if you want to get around you can go on my right!!
And he did, along with the person behind him. Weird!!
On to the half way point. I got there, as it turns out, 20 minutes faster than my previous time. I was feeling good, sweating, spinning, and having fun. I decided not to pick up the pace for the second half of the race but to keep it steady and see what came of it.
Then it happened. I turned onto the last 12 miles of single track. I was 2 hrs and 45 minutes into the race. Last month at this point I was 3 hrs and thirty minutes into the race. 45 minutes faster than last month. But then my stomach started churning. I made it another 3 miles before stopping. I ended up squatting in the woods for about 20 minutes. Montezuma had his revenge, or maybe it was the chili from River's End, or any number of other things, bugs, viruses I picked up from who knows where.
I knew that there was 8 miles of the most difficult trail to go. I also knew that I would not be able to finish. I also believe in miracles. I had stopped about 50 yards from a volunteer. The volunteer did what he could to encourage me, but also did what he could to talk me out of continuing. ( he didn't need to try very hard!!). He said that I had 3 choices: 1. continue, 2. go back 3 miles of single track, technical single track to the last sag to get a ride back, or 3. take this little renegade trail about 1 mile downhill to a dirt road then another mile to the trailer and wait there for a ride.
OOOOh, down hill then dirt road. That was my ticket out of there. I made him repeat the directions about 3 times so I was sure I would not get lost:" take this trail all the way down, there are no turns, it becomes a dirt road, follow that until you get to the trailer, it will take about 5-10 minutes". Simple directions, but being a little fuzzy and depleted, I wanted to make sure!! I headed down and found the trailer. Someone showed up within 20 minutes and I was back at the finish line almost before Rhonda could start worrying.
I was able to eat some that evening but my stomach did not feel right until much later that night. I'm pretty sure that this was caused by something out of my control, ie not electrolytes of other nutrition, and I definitely was not riding beyond myself as I have done in the past.
So, I am definitely bummed and discouraged about not finishing, but the more I think about it, the more excited I get that the workouts and training are actually accomplishing something. 45 minutes off of a finish time is not joke!!!
Unfortunately, we did not get to go to the Knoxville Zoo on the way home as we had planned. Rhonda woke up feeling terrible, so she spent the morning at the walk in clinic, while Jubal and I played in the parking lot. It turns out that she has some sort of sinus infection, bummer.
Kind of funny though, I was sick for the first race, Jubal the second, and now Rhonda for the third!!!
Have a great day.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Ach, just getting caught up -- sorry to hear this happened. Definitely rest and don't get sick yourself!