Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is it over yet?

Ok, so I'm heading out for my fourth lap.  Cramps had already started to creep in at the end of the third lap - so while I was in the pit I did a little stretching.

The fourth lap was going pretty good.  The bike seemed to be holding up.  The rear tire was good after the fill - must have been the crash that dropped the pressure.  Anyway, things were going well until I got to my favorite part of the trail.  Yeah, I had a favorite part of the trail.  It's this section towards the end that turns into a pretty straight slight climb along a fence line.  It was the kind of incline that you know is there, but you don't really feel... so you can really dig into it and fly.  It laced through some trees as well so it was a nice and smooth fast section before the the last bit and back into the road.

So as I'm getting ready to turn it on my thigh starts to cramp.  My calves had been annoying me now for a little bit, but the thigh starting to protest got me a little worried.  I decided to pull up real quick to try to work things out - and that was a mistake.  As soon as I put my leg down to get off the bike my legs destroyed themselves.  I literally fell over as my muscles went all sorts of crazy.  I rolled around on the ground in the fetal position trying to get my muscles in workable positions.  It was insane.

I was finally able to stand back up and continue to stretch.  A couple riders went by asking if I was ok, and each time just one word was all that was needed "cramps."  I finally got back on the bike and finished up the trail and was back out on the road.

This time the pit wasn't for the bike, it was for me.  I needed to do something about my legs or I didn't know what would happen out on the trail.  I was informed that TheMutt had pitted (finally) but had only stuck around for a few minutes before he was off again.  Actually, I think Annie told me that he had "decided to stop" and in my tired state I took that to mean that he was throwing in the towel, which I could not comprehend.  I was eventually able to wrap my head around the fact that TheMutt was still racing, but I couldn't believe where I was in the race.  As I moaned and groaned and worked on my legs Annie was telling me I was pretty consistent with my lap times and things were looking good.  I got over to my garmins and it was telling me I had been riding for about 3 hours and 40 minutes.

What?  wait... that means I have 2+ more hours to complete just two more laps to reach 6.... That can't be right.  The idea that I would be racing to hit the cut off so that I could get 6 laps in was out the window.  Now I was facing the reality that I was going to easily (as long as nothing major happened) get in 6 laps.  If something could completely turn around to the positive side I could challenge the cut off for 7.  This was a bizarre turn of events.  Realistically I knew there was no way I was going to be able to challenge for 7 laps... but to be in a position to get 6 laps without too much worry was reinvigorating.

Soon I was (as ready as I was going to be) to get back on the bike and I was out for my fifth lap.  Steady was the name of the game.  I knew I had plenty of time to get my last two laps in, so I wanted to be as consistent as possible to avoid anything big that would prevent me from finishing 6.  Then, I dropped my chain again.

Swearing commenced, this time a bit louder.  I was done with this none sense.  What the F is wrong with me damn bottom bracket???  Seriously.  The original EBB couldn't hold still.  I get the new 2 bolt version, and now this guy is moving around on me??  I resist the urge to huck my bike into the woods and get to fixing the problem.  I take the rear wheel off, get the chain back on, replace the rear wheel.  Start working on the EBB and a singlespeeder goes by.  The first I've seen since the beginning.  I was a head of someone?  Up until this point in the "race" I hadn't cared about position.  It was all about getting in 6 laps.  Now, a different sense of urgency started bubbling up.  Maybe I can get in 6 AND finish ahead of someone??

I crank down the bolts on the EBB and take off with a mission.  I'm going to catch that rider.  He's my carrot as I work my way through the trail.  I catch glimpses of him through the trees and around corners, my pace quickens.  I catch him but am fine with staying on his wheel as we get through the tight, rooty, punchy stuff.  He's got a fork and takes the rooty downs a little faster, I'm up his ass anytime the trail goes up.  We hit a straight section and he moves to let me go but I yell to him to keep going because I notice my seat post has decided to go south for the winter once again.  Do I stop or continue on...

I stop, adjust the seat post and haul ass to catch back up.  It doesn't take long and I'm on him.  We are getting close to the fence line and I know my move.  He has been slowing anytime the trail looks up, so I know I can get by him and put in a gap on him when we get to the fence line... I wait patiently and then call out my pass.  My legs, as though they remember the battle we had on the ground last lap start to twitch and hint that they want round 2.  Not a possibility, I push it out of my mind and try to stretch out my legs while pedaling, but I keep my pace up to the top of fence line and through the last section.

I hit the road behind another rider, and I chat him up a little as we head down the road, glancing over my shoulder to see when the singlespeeder would come out.  I'm halfway down the road when I see him round the corner.  I can't tell if he's going to gun it after me or not, but I don't wait to find out.  Annie steps out to welcome me into the pit but I tell her I'm going out for 6, there is a singlespeeder behind me.  I tuck in and pick up speed.  The rider with me jumps on my wheel and enjoys the pull.

from the Brunswick Brawl facebook page
As we head through the first part of the trail I think about telling the rider behind me that this isn't a free ride, that I'd expect a beer afterwards - but I notice my seat post is going down again and the cramps are starting to rise to levels that I can't ignore.  As soon as the trail opened up into the jump line I pull off and let my trailer go.  I get my seat post square and try to get back on the bike, but I can't ignore my legs.  I start stretching, watching and waiting for the singelspeeder to come.  He doesn't.

Did he pit?  Is he slowing down that much?  Maybe he called it?  I keep stretching and watching... a different rider comes through...  I tell myself that he's still coming, and not he's got momentum so I have to go!  I jump on my bike and take off.  I'm riding at a good pace.  Not redlining it, but I'm taking speed where I can get it.  From time to time I think I hear him behind me so it keeps me moving.  A combination of split attention (trail and ghost rider), crazy thoughts (could I finish with enough time to get another lap in?) and fatigue leads me to take a corner a bit too fast.  I feel my tires start to slip and over correct myself straight into a tree.  I saw it coming so I was able to avoid the tree myself, but my handlebars slam straight into it.  I pop back up and take a quick assessment... everything seems fine.  I take off again - now he MUST be just behind that last corner.

I'm getting through some twisty rooty stuff, with the big steep down to off camber left turn coming up and I notice I don't have rear brakes.  Not that they don't work, but my brake lever is now below my bar.  I test to see if I can use it in the position it is in, but it stretches my wrist over the bar too much and puts me in an awkwardly dangerous position.  I get through the section I am in and pull over the fix it.  He's coming, he's coming.  I get the brake lever back in a normal position and take off.

The crash put a nice scratch on my carbon bars right at the clamp...
might have to retire these bars before they brake on me.

He's coming, he's coming.  He hasn't caught me yet.  I know that if he catches a glimpse of me before we get to the fence line then he is going to have a shot at me.  If I get to fence line before he catches me I know I can turn it up and put a gap on him and hold it through the finish.  I start to take it easy through the rough stuff as I can't risk another crash or mechanical.

I'm getting closer to fence line and I can feel it.  I'll be able to hold him if he gets to me.  Once on fence line I'm gone.  Knowing that this will be the last time I hit this section was a freeing feeling.  I stayed on top of my cadence and kept on moving.  I pop out of the trees for the last time and turn onto the dirt road.  I yell to the marshall on the ATV that it was a fun time and take off down the road.

I'm approaching the pit and I don't see Annie.... I wonder where she is?  Maybe she's at the finish... what should I do for a picture??  Point?  thumbs up?  As I get towards the bottom of the road I see her at the right turn to the finish.  She's using her phone so I figure I should wait to get closer before I "pose" for the picture - I went with a thumbs up.  I hit the turn and cross the line.

Best. Feeling. Ever.  Out of nowhere I felt like a kid again and almost wanted to keep going.  ALMOST.  An official called me back to get my timing chip from me so I turned back around and asked him if he was really going to make me get off my bike and cramp up to give him my chip.  He laughed and told me he'd get it off my ankle for me.

I crossed the line at around 5 hours 45 minutes with 6 laps in.  I never saw the singlespeeder I had passed in lap 5.  Ends up that that had been his 6th lap and he called it after that.  I came in DFL, but I didn't care.  Even though I guess I was never racing him, he was enough motivation to keep me going out there and to finish strong.

Riding for that long is a strange thing.  Although my body certainly felt it, I never got bored.  It was fun.  I know that sounds sick, but it was such a fulfilling experience to go into a 6 hour race blindly to just see what I could do.  And I've got to say, I'm pretty damn happy with what I was able to do.  Makes me excited to see what I can do at the next one now that I have one under my belt.  Hopefully I can get the mechanical issues under control next time - but maybe those forced stops helped me make it physically as well.  You've got to take the good with the bad in mountain biking.  All in all, I had a good time and reached my goal - what more can you ask for?             

No comments:

Post a Comment