Monday, May 20, 2013

P55.5K The Race I Almost Didn't Start




I had originally signed up to race the P111K.   Then I found out that the kid's last soccer game of the season was scheduled for that day,  so I switched to the P55.5K, which was scheduled for Sunday.  Two prior,  GNAR: The Gnarliest Kid's Adventure Race Ever was scheduled (the day after PMABAR).  With temps around 40-50,  and after seeing adults in the beginning stages of hypothermia,  there was no way I was going to expose my kid to those same conditions.   Too much risk of hypothermia and illness.  1 hour before start time, Gnar rescheduled to the same Sunday as P55.5K.    After contacting the organizers, there was no hope of refund.  $65 down the drain if we didn't show up.

At first, I told the kid that we would go.  After thinking it through quite a bit,  I decided that I would much rather be racing my bike.  I decided to talk to the kid about it.  I was surprised at his maturity and understanding how much I wanted to race.  He easily compromised and agreed to let me race.  That kid is cool.

Saturday morning, I was loading the debris from the house remodel project to take to the landfill.  I wrenched my middle back pretty well and was concerned about how it would be in the morning.  It hurt but I hoped that it would loosen up after riding.   

That is how I ended up on the start line of the P55.5K.

It was not raining but foggy at the start.  80+ folks started, most of whom had raced the 111 the previous day.  Usually at races, people edge up to the start line to try for the hole shot.  Today, people held back.

Eric Wever of Pisgah Productions, said "GO" and we were off.  I started at a steady pace and held it for the first climb up Black Mountain.  I followed Shanna and here Endless Cog equipped single speed for a few minutes, then went around.  I continued at a pace that I could manage for now, knowing that I should back off just a hair, but enjoying the company I was keeping.  I was on Brad Kee's wheel with Carey Lowery right behind me.  This first section of trail can be a grind, so I pulled from the momentum of the savvy people around me.

At some point, I slowed my pace to something more sustainable.  Carey went around and Brad went on.  Hiking some and riding some, then mostly hiking up to Turkey Pen Trail,  down the trail and was surprised at how slick the trail was.  A nice layer of mud mad things dicey and I went sliding down,  staying upright but with lots of close calls.  This was going to take quite  a bit longer than I had originally though.

After getting to aid station one at Turkey Pen Parking lot,  I was greeted by the Motion Makers staff and friends.  A quick lube, water refill, PB and J, and I was on my way.  Riding deeper down into the rainforest, trying to eat, and stay upright.  Matt Fusco passed me at the aid station,  so he was my carrot.  The first river crossing startled me due to the height of the river, I was hoping it was at least crotch deep because I had to pee.  It wasn't.

On up Bradley Creek,  as trail I don't ever remember being on before, and then finally to FS 5015.  I like this road and grade.  I caught Matt and passed him as well as another guy.  A steady pace brought me to aid station #2,  hosted by Liberty Bikes.  The wife and kid were also there.  The kid gave me a square of Hershey's chocolate that I put in my pocket to save for later.  Unfortunately, on the way up to Pilot, it melted flat and would have taken too long to scrape out.

After a quick lube, water and sandwich, I was off again.  I decided to continue riding my steady pace up Laurel and enjoy the ride.  Laurel is a trail that can be easy at a leisurely pace, or hard if you are hammering.  I picked somewhere in between to conserve energy for the end of the day.  Eating, and drinking, and soaking in the woodland around me.  Then I hear thunder roiling in the distance, a couple of ridged over.  I knew that the storm could be headed straight towards me.  If it was, the Mount Pisgah ridge line might block it, but if it was big enough to spill over, I could be in trouble.  Sure enough, as I started down Pilot Rock Trail, the rain started splattering, turning into a chilling downpour.  Matt passed me, then Yuri caught and passed me.  I stopped to put on my wind vest, wishing I had my arm warmers.  I continued picking my way down the trail turned miniature flash flood creek.  As I popped out on FS 1206, I crested the first climb and saw Yuri just up the road.  I thought that he was a much better descender than me, and was surprised to see him so close.

I didn't try to catch him, but used the gravel to eat and recover a bit.

Aid Station #3, Suspension Experts, complete with Mike and fresh pineapple.  Yuri begged for someone to wring out his gloves, which they did.  I asked someone to wring out my chamois, all I got was funny looks,  some people wondering if I was serious...

A quick refill on water, Coke and another 1/2 of PB and J, and I was off,  down the S Mills River Trail then up to Buck horn gap.  Normally I can get some pretty good momentum up this trail but today it was not happening.  The mud was really slowing me down.  I didn't let it bother me though because everybody was in the same boat,  or bog.

Yuri caught me as we entered Black Mountain trail and we yo yo-ed until the final decent.  All this time I was thinking he was faster downhill than me.  So, as we hike a biked,  when he asked me if he should take the time to change brake pads before the decent,  my thoughts were " HECK NO".  But knowing that that action would give me a gap,  I sort of recommended that he should give it a try.

We crested Black Mountain.  I stopped to pee, and he went past.  I thought I wouldn't see him again.  Then as I passed Turkey Pen, I saw him ahead, running downhill with his bike.  I let loose a little bit, rode past him and didn't see him again until the finish,  but he definitely had me pushing my limits on the muddy slick downhill.

Clay was in there somewhere handing out free ice cold beer, but I was too close to the finish to stop.  I skidded, slid, and went as fast as I dared down to the start finish.  The wife and kid were there and Eric Wever took my picture.  He then told me that I had finished well and to pick a prize off the table!  It took me a few minutes to figure out why.   8th in my cat and 22nd overall.  Cool.

My back still hurt if I twisted the wrong way, but for the most part I would forget about it.

There are a mass of people to thank for helping me get where I am today.
I rode my Siren 55 SL,  this bike is amazing. Thanks Brendan and Mary Collier
Thanks to SpinTech Training for getting me in the studio for some structured training.  I recommend this to anyone, at least once per week, even if it is sunny outside. 
Thanks Eddie O'Dea, Tom Coleman and Wobblenaught.  The difference is amazing.
Thanks Namrita O'Dea,  my nutrition is dialed,  absolutely no issues!
Thanks Motion Makers, Liberty and Suspension Experts.  Not only do you help me on a personal level, you help make Trips For Kids WNC a success.
Thanks Eric and Erinna for promoting this race and holding a raffle to benefit Trips For Kids WNC.
Thanks to all my friends who cheer me on.
And most of all, thanks to my wife and kid for supporting my goals!!

1 comment:

voiceoftheblueridge said...

Great write up Stephen. I laughed pretty hard at the ring out your chamois part. Take care. Chris