Monday, January 6, 2014

Snake TT #1 Part 1

I was meeting D-Wayne and his buddy Mike down in Dalton since I had to work Friday. As I was leaving school my garmins led me to believe I would arrive at 7:15 - with stops for gas I knew it would be a little later, but that sounded pretty good to me!  Two accidents within a mile or so of each other had something to say about that ETA so Dwayne was kind enough to pick up my number for me.

As I was getting settled in discussions turned to what to wear. First thing first, I had my new team kit in my hands (for a second).  Due to the temps, no one see it anyway, but the kit is going back for a few minor adjustments. That being said, the thing is SICK!  Seriously, I may enter races (or maybe just show up and just hang out) to show this thing off!  If your team (or even just YOU) need a new design hit up Dwayne. The guy is super easy to work with, lightening fast with responses and works tirelessly to get you what you want. Oh yeah, and he's a mountain biker - can't get much better than that, now can you?  (He also races cx and rides the roads, so you folks will feel equally at home working with Dwayne). Seriously, if you have a need or even just an idea please consider talking/emailing Dwayne, you won't regret it. 

So before I had to give the kit back I of course took some creepy hotel bathroom selfies.

The rest of the night was filled with going back and forth with wardrobe thoughts. When I left for GA it looked like it was going to be in the 30s by race time. When I got to GA it looked like mid 20s for the start, that didn't sound fun at all. But, it did make my choice easier. With temperatures staying that low I felt confident that I would be able to wear my jacket the entire time and not have to worry about needing to shed it with huger temps. In the end I went with my jacket and a short sleeve jersey - it was perfect. By the end of the first half I did have the jacket unzipped half way. 

The plan was that Dwayne and I would be racing the full 34 miles while Mike was riding the 17 (he had ridden it before and said all the fun stuff was in the second half anyway).  As we got down to the snake pit to load our bikes and shuttle to the start Dwayne throws his bike in the 17 miler trailer... the hell?  In the minute from the hotel to the parking lot he changed his mind, looked like I'd be going it alone. Turns out it was probably a really good idea for him as he ended his race feeling pretty damn ill. 

I placed my bike with the other 34 milers and waited to get moving. A couple things going through my head while we were transporting: Damnit, I should have brought my bottles with me on the bus - they are probably going to freeze on the way to the start (they didn't, but that was a scary risk - I was thinking if ways to heat them up the whole ride to the start). It was getting warm in the bus, so much so that I had to shed my gloves as my hands were sweating. Yet my feet were cold!  My feet are always cold. ALWAYS. Even with thin wool socks and DeFeet Woolie Boolies on my feet were cold on a warm bus.

The other thought battling my potential water bottle issue, what to do about the creek crossing. My main plan was to strip cleats and socks and walk across. I had extra socks (mostly to use to dry my feet) and really didn't like the idea of risking wet feet in suck cold weather - especially with my naturally cold feet!  When we arrived I had to wait for the trailer with my bike to show for a few minutes. By the time it was all said and done I was starting around 10:00 and the temperature forecast didn't look so bad. 

I've always been good with temps over 30, so I felt good with what I had on - although still a little conserve end with the possibility of overhearing. In all I had one two pairs of wool socks, leg warmers, bibs with baggies over them (last minute decision to also wear boxers - didn't want any chance of my junk freezing over the 34 miles), short sleeve jersey, and bike jacket (rated for I think 60, but worthless to me unless it's at least under 40), my cyclone winter gloves with the inserts of my snowboarding gloves, and a balaclava (helmet, cleats, glasses of course). 

I planned out nutrition for 5 hours with individual Osmo packets for bottle refills at the aid station (had 2 bottles) and packets of mustard if the cramps came to play. 

By the time I was starting there weren't many of us left (I'll be sure to get to the snake pit earlier in February) so it was go when you were ready - I had heard it was a 5 at a time start. I started alone, which was great as it removed any temptation to destroy myself off the start. I did try to keep things up on the fire roads to the creek to get my legs going.  I think my legs had gotten out of the car and decided to walk the rest of the way as I say in traffic in Greenville, unfortunately they didn't make it for the start of the race. All day I had burst of great performance out if them, and then bouts of childish protesting from them. I never knew which I would face each time I came to a climb - it was a fun little game they were playing with me. 

The creek crossing.  My feet were frozen as they hit the ground before I even got to the water, which made the water not so bad really...  The only thing that saved my feet for the rest of the race was the fact that the race promoters gave us a goodie bag that had in it those packet hand warmers... when I put my socks back on I slide on in - my feet were not cold the rest of the race (or at least I didn't notice).  

After the creek it was straight to business with a climb.  It was a doubletrack climb that I grinded away on.  There was a singlespeed rider up ahead of me so he was my carrot the entire climb.  I caught him as we entered singletrack toward the top as he stopped.  I pressed on for a short time until I stopped myself to drink something.  Throughout the first half of the race anytime I "stopped" I tried to at least be walking.  The trail in the first half was "nice."  Nothing, trail wise, challenging - but there wasn't much relief from an upward tread, so it wore on me.  There were times (when my legs weren't cooperating) when I started thinking about the possibility of throwing in the towel at the halfway mark... if I was struggling this much now how would I make the rest of it?  But then... then I would hit bursts where my legs felt right on and I powered through climbs.  Toward the end the trail starting turning down - the end was near.... signs appeared to check your speed - and of course in this "dangerous" speed trap the camera guy was posted up... he had a good spot - a nice hump to allow riders to air it out - not sure that I really got off the ground - I was more interested in enjoying the downward ride than grabbing a great picture.  Up ahead... the road.  And the pit stop.

I made it.  I instantly knew I wasn't done - I could make it.  I think I pulled in at a little under 2.5 hours.  Slower than I had hoped, but considering how I was feeling it felt like I was "ok."  During the pit I ate the rest of my clif bar I had been trying to eat while riding (I was also downing gummy worms while riding), finished the remainder of my one remaining bottle, and then refilled both of them dumping in my single serving of Osmo, and downed two packets of mustard.  I wanted to do as much as I could to stay ahead of any cramping.  So far, so good.  My pace was a bit slow during the pit and I had to zip my jacket back up as I started getting cold.  I knew I should get going, but I couldn't seem to pick up the pace to get everything ready to go.

I did eventually get going... but we'll get into the second half tomorrow.


  1. Sorry about bailing on the 34, dude! I'd been debating which distance ALL MORNING (albeit mostly in my head!)...but by the time I turned off the long fire road climb, I was glad I left ya to struggle on your own!!

  2. The early starts weren't 5 at a time but they were sending us of as fast as they could get the plate number and time recorded. On average it was about every 10 seconds. this was a good interval that kept the line moving and didn't let us get too bunched up. By the time we crossed the creek everything was pretty spread out and I had almost no congestion the rest of the race.
    Starting in 30's sounds much nicer than the 20's I started in. Frozen feet all race long. Gotta work on that for next time.