Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The second round of the Snake looked promising. The weather report was calling for temps in the 50s and cloudy skies but no rain. Perfect race weather for this time of year!  Race promoters posted that the creek was 3" deep, much shallower than last month's trudge through the freezing water.

It was a bit chilly at the start, but it was bearable with a light sleeveless base layer, team USA Larry Bird jersey from the Dream Team, and cycling jersey paired with arm warmers. Again I threw on baggies over my bibs for extra warmth and carrying capacity/easy access to food, leg warmers, same thin/thick combo of wool socks (since I planned on riding through the water I also started with the toe warmer in to help battle any wet feet that might result from the crossing) and this time I was sporting a brace on my injured knee - likely more for psychological support than anything else. 

As I came up to the creek I didn't have any sense of a prime section to cross at so I just went for it. Not sure if I was too fast or if I hit the deepest section, but my feet got soaked. I pedaled up the hill while it felt like ice was forming on my shoes. I didn't want to deal with ice feet so I stopped to change out my socks. 

Now with dryer and warmer feet I hopped back on my bike (pushing the same gearing as last time) and got back to climbing. Just like last time, I had no legs. New this time, as soon as I hit the singletrack section I started feeling completely destroyed and dizzy. At mile 3 I had already made up my mind - at mile 17 I would be calling it. I was dizzy, my legs felt hollow, there was no way I could complete the whole thing. 

As I struggled forward I downed a bottle. At around mile 6 my head had cleared and my legs showed up. I was back in it. Apparently I have to completely blow up before my legs wake up?? Anyway, I was enjoying the ride again. From there my focus was on hydrating so that I could stay strong. 

I was able to finish the first half of the Snake faster than my last go around. At the pit I moved quickly to eat while refilling both bottles.  Mixed in my Osmo, and I was off - total stopped time about 4 minutes.

Back to climbing.  As I hit the first switchback I stood to power around the corner and they struck - cramps.  Stopped, stretched, drank, and continued on.  Staying on top of drinking helped keep the cramps at bay for a while at least.  After the initial (long) climb out of the pit the trail gets AWESOME!  Ridgeline riding - so fun!  No crash this time on the descents, and I got to show of my handling skills on the steep downhill switchback to a couple of riders that choose to hike it.  "You're owning it man!" they cheered.  "Well, I've got to take it where I can get it" I responded with a smile.

Being more familiar with the trail, and what was to come, certainly helped me stay in the game mentally.  I knew that there wasn't much out there that I couldn't ride, so anytime I did hike I made sure it was short lived and hopped back on and pedaled forth sooner than last ride.  It also helped keep my head in a positive space - I never felt defeated or begged for the end like I did last month.  I was, however, a bit fuzzy on where the rock/root drop "staircase" was - and at one point I wondered if I had already ridden it and missed it because I had blown it out of proportion last time??  Nope!  It was just later in the trail than I had remembered, but still a beast.  But knowing it was coming, and knowing how long it was, it felt easier to handle this time.  

Getting in to the last station I filled my bottles and kept moving.  I wanted to improve over my last time as much as possible, so standing around wasn't going to get me there.  I was attacking the trail with confidence, things felt great until I started passing people.  Sounds weird huh?  But every time I pushed to pass someone my legs complained.  I had to yo-yo with a group because I'd stop to stretch, they would pass, I would catch them - pass them, and inevitably have to stop again to stretch after any section where I stood to power through.  I started tapering back to avoid standing if at all possible and was able to get through well.  A few hiking sections here and there (the wall of course) but again I was quick to get back on the bike after traversing whatever boulder was deemed impassible by bike. 

There were two riders left in front of me that I had been yo-yoing with as we approached the dump out to the road - I pushed and got out in front of them before we hit the road.  I figured they would catch me on the downhill anyway, but I wanted that one last moral victory.  I let it fly down the dirty/crappy pavement road section.  As we were getting to the actual road there was a rider ahead that I caught as we hit the pavement.  He put it in granny to get up the last kicker so I stood and went around him - again, figuring he would soon pass me back as things tilted down.  He didn't.  I tucked in as tight as I could and let gravity do it's thing as my cog in the back wasn't going to allow me to provide any help.  

I was done.  D-Wayne and Mike were there waiting for me at the finish.  I felt great.  I mean, my legs were torn apart, but man did that feel good!!  As I was making my way back to the pterodactyl I stopped to chat with some guys I had met on the bus over to the start - they were riding ss as well and took as look at my bike and asked what I was running.  "20"  "Dude, we are running 22 - you'll like the trail a whole lot better with a 22".  

Although I was able to ride more of the climbs, and cleared a lot of the last section on the 20, I am definitely thinking about going with something easier for the third and final stage.  With a finish next month I get a belt buckle!!  This month we got something totally unexpected from the race promoters.

Very cool.  Empty, but still very cool!  I was able to remedy the situation quite easily. 


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