Sunday, August 25, 2013

Save The Trails Challenge 2013

I signed up for the epic and was relieved to find out that it had been shortened to 40 ish miles due to a trail closure.  I had to be back in Asheville by 4pm.  If something went wrong then I would be late.  There was about an hour where things went wrong.....I had doubts about making it back on time, or at all.

The day started with the fog lifting nicely, a cool breeze and a bunch of fun people.  I wasn't there to have fun though, I was there to test my race fitness and try something a little different.  Ok,  I was there to have fun too. 

I decided that since this is a supported ride with rest stops, I would try to ride without a Camelbak.  I would carry two bottles on the bike and a smaller one as a back up in my jersey pocket.

After the raffle we rolled out.  The group of juniors rolled off the front and I settled into my pace.  I rode with Patrick for a little while then Joe and Chris.  Chris and I passed each other the rest of the day.  We had very similar pacing.

I don't know the names of all the trails out at dupont, but I do know that after a big loop somewhere, we rode down Ridgeline, then up Jim Branch.  After that, everything is a blur.

The first hour and I was eating and drinking fine and feeling great.   The temps were not high but the humidity was.  I was pushing my pace a little bit to see what I could sustain over time.   This sport is about trial and error but it in endurance events,  you don't realize the error until 3 hrs into the ride.  It is difficult to find what works and what doesn't for that reason. 

The first hour and 12 miles rolled by.  I was cruising.  We had not yet done a lot of climbing though.  At the start of the second hour, I realized I wasn't having much fun.  I thought about the 20 folks wearing tutus, taking their time.  If I didn't have somewhere to be, I would have stopped and waited for them.  Climbing up the gravel rd and turning onto the airstrip, I realized that I should have emptied at least one bottle by now.  I had only taken in about half of one and not nearly enough of the second.  I chugged most of the water out of one bottle and I'm pretty sure that messed up my system for the rest of the day.

I grabbed a sandwich, refilled the bottle and kept pedaling.   Lots of tight, twisty single track,  up and over  a  mountain and I was at aid station 2.   2 hrs had come and gone and I was not feeling great.  Not terrible, just not great.   I was able to keep the pedals spinning, but my heartrate was low, I had a headache and the glare of the sun was annoying.  2 out of 3 negative symptoms.

I continued on,  around the loop and back through the I-9 rest stop.  I grabbed a little cup of trail mix to eat as I rode.  200 yrds later, with a mouth full of half chewed trailmix causing me to gag, I had flash backs to the Alleghany Mountains Loop trip I did about a month ago.  I knew at that point that the goal for the rest of the day would be to minimize damage and make it out alive.....

Only 20 miles left to go, I can do it.  I prayed for strength and wisdom.  I sipped,  and ate some gels.  Grinding my way to the 3rd aid station I greeted Karen and the Neuberts.  I estimated that I had 10-15 miles left.  I felt ok, and was able to eat some more sandwich.  I had been snacking on my Fritos (which I accidentally dopped and a local photog got a great picture of)  but they were not bringing me back as they had done in the past.

Chris N was trying to get in position to snap a photo, but I didn't have the patience at the time to wait for him.  Sorry, Chris.

The farther I rode, the more of a blur the ride was.  I was riding down an awesome trail that should have been a blast but it wasn't.   I was feeling ok, then suddenly bouncing down the trail around a switchback, nauseousness hit with a fury.  I stopped, took some deep breathes and managed not to puke.  There was a small creek running across the trail and I sat in it.  Dousing my arms, legs torso and dripping some onto my head.  I sat for just a couple of minutes and started shivering almost uncontrollably.   I wanted to lay there and fall asleep, but knowing that I could send myself into shock fairly quickly, I got back on the bike and continued on.

Riding down the rest of the hill, I was shivering but it felt so good.

A couple more climbs, a stream crossing or two, I can't remember and then to forest opened up into the Guion Farms parking lot.  What a relief.  No sprint finish, just a grind up to the pavilion to tell Jon Cartwright thanks, grab a half cold Coke and then on to the truck to change and head back home. 

4.5 hrs, 39.5 miles  ( I skipped the Poplar Trl Loop) 

Another good day on the bike, another lesson learned.  

Thanks Pisgah Area Sorba for helping us keep our trails open!!

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