Out of bed and load the truck. Drink some water. With everything loaded, I tell Rhonda goodbye and hit the road....to Starbucks. Grande Yukon with a blueberry muffin to start the morning. It is dark, and cold, cold enough to wear my wool hoodie. I'm sleepy but feeling good. Next stop is the gas station for some ice to put in the cooler.
Scary looking game face....
I drive the two hours to Warriors Creek State Park, the sun comes as I am driving through Lenoir, the start of the Bridge to Bridge Incredible Challenge. A 102 miler that starts in Brevard and ends on top of Grandfather Mtn. That's a fun one.
I pull into the campground/pits and park behind Cara and Andy Applegate, D-Dub joins us later. Taylor Sullivan, promoter of the Cowbell Challenge, is kind enough to offer me space in his tent, and his girlfriend is willing to hand my bottles to me. Thanks Taylor and girlfriend. Since I am already parked, and comfortable, I turn him down. Maybe another time.
We start promptly at 10 am. I position myself in the front, by the starting line. 2 miles of pavement to the first single track. The race starts and the lead group pace is too fast for me. I slow down and let them go, spit out the back. I turn around to see if I am near the back. I'm not, oddly enough I am in the middle of two large packs, all alone.
The course is 99% single track. Whoopy, tight, turny single track. Mostly short quick grunt climbs and dips. Nowhere to rest and recover. It is pretty much constant pedaling. That raises the degree of difficulty.
I finish lap one and feel good, grab a fresh bottle and head out. Halfway through lap 2 I realise that I might be in for a bad day. I calculated one bottle of nutrition per lap. The problem that for some reason I did not process until halfway through the second lap, is that laps were taking me 15-30 minutes over my calculation. After completing two laps I am feeling fatigue and sit down to see if I can recover....and eat a pb&j. After about 15 minutes I feel OK so I head back out, trying not to exert too much, but even on the tight, twisty downhills my heart rate is rising. It is difficult to find momentum.
I finish lap 3 around 2:45pm. I have until 3:30 pm to decide if I want/can go out for another lap. I drink almost a full bottle and even add some Endurolytes to see if that will help. ( at the end of the lap I assess my rate of sweat. I would say I was perspiring, not sweating. People around me were all sweating, not good).
At 3:20pm I felt good, after sitting under the tent in the shade, with the cool breeze blowing in off the lake. So, I take off, very slowly, but then I feel good so I push it a little bit, maybe I can complete this lap. I was feeling good and steady until I hit one twisty, turny, roller coaster like part of the course. Then I feel a little dizzy. I let off the gas and creep along. I realise it is time to stop. And I am not sweating.
The cool thing about a Camelbak is that you can blow water into the bladder and it pressurizes. Then you can spray yourself with water. That is exactly what I did, the cool water running down my neck and back felt good, really good. I understood at that moment that my body was not cooling itself properly.
At the halfway point I bag it and get on the pavement for the 1/4 mile ride back to the pits. Before the downhill I douse myself again. The cool air rushing past my wet clothes again feels great. By the time I get back to my pit area, I am cooled off, enough to feel like I could keep going. I don't keep going.
I'll be trying again real soon. I'll follow my nutritionist's advice to the T next time, and I refuse to make any more calculatory mistakes.
The upside is that I got the calories that I need. It feels good to hopefully have that figured out. The only time I got hungry was at the end of lap two. But I was able to replenish with the pb&j. Sweet.
Have a great day.