Thursday, August 14, 2014


Saturday morning we headed into Copper Harbor to get ready for the race/ride after Zac enjoyed the free breakfast at our hotel - I opted for the bagel, cream cheese and turkey that I brought.  As we were getting ready and waiting for the start there were some great costumes - I didn't get any pictures because there is zero service in Copper Harbor so I opted to leave my phone in the pterodactyl.  Typically I do carry my phone with me in case of emergencies, but since it would be useless in an emergency situation, I left it behind.  I also did not plan to stop to take pictures during the ride.  Sure, I wasn't going to be in contention to win this thing, but I didn't need to have an excuse to take it easy and stop for pictures.

We headed out of town en mass and up some gravel roads.  I tried to size up the crowd and figure who I wanted to get into the singletrack ahead.  There was a rider with a dog, which was cool... but the dog seemed confused as to who it should be following, so I made sure to get up ahead so as to avoid any pooch related issues.  My legs felt pretty good on the rolling hills.  Maybe they would bounce back from yesterday?

Soon we hit the singletrack, it was some rarely ridden trail which was littered with rocks and roots.  Before long things were slowed and stopped as people fumbled over roots, and then over rocky descents.  At one juncture I wondered aloud if it would be faster to run at this point as people were stopped before a descent.  The rider in front of me said "walking is never faster than riding," to which I agreed, but with the traffic we were experiencing I wasn't so sure.  I took off on foot and hiked down the pro line as the pile up on the B line continued.  I was off ahead of the crowd... I guess walking is sometimes faster.

Soon we hit "stairway to heaven" and the trail turned upwards.  It wasn't long until my legs protested and my brain shut off.  From here on out climbing was horrid.  I could push myself through some of it, but eventually I would have to dismount to hike, or to rest for a few seconds to let a rider behind me pass.  I was losing ground on the climbs, but funny enough, I was gaining ground on the descents!    I was finding that I was able to ride more of the technical than some of the riders around me so I rode as much as I could to try to stay competitive.  I certainly did not ride everything, but I rode it where I could to and was able to pass people who had caught me on the climbs.

The first of the aid stations was at the top of a long switchback climb almost halfway through the race.  At this point I was dying, and grateful for the stop as I was almost out of liquids.  I refueled and took a short brake before heading out onto the edge trail.  I had seen video of this trail and it looks fun and contained one of the most famous parts of the trails at Copper Harbor - the wooden bridge switchbacks.  With the line of riders ahead and behind it was kinda interesting on there trying to pace yourself to not ride up on someone, but not to hold others up at the same time.  I felt good on them, hitting the wooden bermed sections on pass two and three.  I was almost through, turning to ride the last bridge - it had a bermed piece as well so I hit it as it had worked on the other bridges.

This one was STEEP, my wheels slide down and I had lost it.  As my bike slide from under me heading to the uphill side I was headed over the wooden berm downhill... headfirst.  Slow motion kicked in and I first tried to avoid a wooden post I was headed for, success.  But now I was head first heading toward the ground below.  Not exactly sure how I landed, but my helmet did serve it's purpose on impact.  I was sitting up and people were yelling to see if I was alright.  Everything felt ok, I started to get up.  "Don't get up, we'll come get you!"  "Are you sure you are alright?"  I thought for a second... my shoulder hurts.  I was able to move my arm and rotate it so as far as I was concerned I was good to go.  I climbed out of the ravine I was in and sat above the trail as riders started moving again.  Jim (from Charlotte) was not far behind me when I went over and I told him I was ok as he passed.  A couple other riders I had been back and forth with checked in with me before they continued on.  I told them to keep going and I would try to catch up.  The volunteers/spectators offered to help me up the hillside back out onto the road to get looked at and end my day.  I wasn't ready to end my day.  I still had half the course to hit, and to be honest I wasn't happy with the way I was riding and I didn't want to take the "easy way out" with an injury.  Everything felt functional, so that was good enough for me.  The Glow Worm seemed pretty good too... had a nice scratch on her and one of my bottle cages was cracked, but was still functioning enough.  I was again warned that they could help me out of the trail here, but if I kept going I'd be on my own... I thanked them for their help and headed out.

Not 1/4 mile down the trail I put in some effort to get over a rock and my legs seized up.  I got off the bike and started massaging my thighs... My muscles had tightened up from impact no doubt.  After some quick work on them I pedaled on and pushed through the tightening muscles - they started to loosen back up and I was actually having some fun pushing it as fast as I could through the swoopy turns.  Before long we hit another aid station.  It seemed way to close to the other, and there was some confusion as to whether or not we would hit the first one again on our way back so I tried to take advantage of this one.  The volunteers there were great, filling my bottle for me before I headed out with a small group.  We rode together for a bit but some of the steep rocky downs started stretching us apart.  My legs were falling off fast and as things started going up again I was dropped.  I trudged on alone.  My body seemed to be falling apart and I was going through liquids like crazy.  As I was winding up the hillside on some grassy switchback thoughts of ditching started coming through my head.  I thought about cutting the course and just walking straight up the hillside.  I thought about hitting the first road I saw back to town.  I tried my best to battle those self defeating thoughts and kept pedaling and hiking.

Finally I popped out at a road crossing where I was lucky enough to get some more water.  The volunteer there confirmed that we would be hitting the aid station again, but said there was probably 5-6 miles to go (2-3 of climbing) before hitting the final descent and heading back to town.  OR I could take the road back down to town...  I didn't like the sound of 5-6 more miles, but felt like I could get through.  Another rider rolled up saying that they were told the course was under 30 miles and they had 24 miles on their computer... so maybe not so long.  I decided to push forward and finish.  We hit an awesome section of trail that was super flowy and swoopy, it was fun pushing it through that section before the last climb back to the aid station.  We ended up getting to hike back up the wooden bridges that had taken me out.  I rested a bit at the final aid station and let the group head out ahead of me as I was completely spent.  I knew that anything uphill would have me soft pedaling so I didn't want to get in anyone's way as we were making back down the mountain.

The descent wasn't as fun as it should have been.  I was exhausted and overly concerned about making a dumb mistake so I took it easy.  As I finished I chatted with some of the group I had finished with and saw a couple of the guys I had been back and forth with before I crashed.  Throughout the evening I had a couple people come up to check on how I was because they either saw me go off the bridge or heard about it... I guess I was famous for all the wrong reasons.

Pasties were enjoyed, beers were drank, games were enjoyed, and shenanigans were in abundance.  Long story short - SSUSA is in Wisconsin next year, not North Carolina.  I was sore after the race, a hole in the back of my jersey with a nice cut down my back.  My right thigh was pummeled and bleeding (with a tiny hole in my bibs) and my chest was bruised all to hell.  I felt like an old man, but I would survive.  As Zac and I were leaving town after waiting around to find out where this thing would be held next year we decided to just drive on through to NC.  It was already 11pm and it didn't seem to make sense to stop in 2.5 hours to camp... not 1 mile out of town a state trooper came flying down the road lights and sirens blaring - looks like the shenanigans were getting out of hand.  Zac and I traded driving pulls and it wasn't so bad.  We got back to Charlotte around 7pm on Sunday.

I visited the doctor yesterday where they took x-rays of my shoulder and chest.  He didn't seem too concerned with the shoulder and said if it wasn't better in 6 weeks then we'd do an MRI.  As soon as I took my t-shirt off and he saw the bruising on my chest he said "Oh yeah, you broke something."  By poking we were able to pinpoint the are of injury to basically right over my heart.  It hurts to breathe deep, laugh, or cough so I am out of commission for a while.  I have, however, been cleared to "walk,"so that's good...  When the x-rays came back on my chest my doctor was perplexed because he couldn't see any break, but has never seen that much bruising without a break.  Radiology will be looking at it today, but whether it's broken or not there is no difference in treatment (treatment being, don't do stuff).  The only difference would be the time of healing.  If no break I could be looking at getting back to riding in 2 weeks.  If a break, 6 weeks.  Fingers crossed. 

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