We make holes in teeth!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Happy Recap

Probably the first thing I should get out of the way is that my total number of laps was 5. As Woody and I were carrying the soccer goal posts from our Shanty Town campsite we acknowledged we easily could have done a 6th lap. But it was getting late, and I wasn't going to hit the over on my previously stated 6.5 over/under regardless. So we called it a day at 5 laps. Giving 9.5 miles per lap I'll take the 47.5 mile total for the weekend. Not astounding. But not awful either.

The weekend started a bit sketchy. Woody didn't get back from his business trip until 10:30 Friday night. I threw out my back on Friday while carrying all my crap in the car. And it rained cats and dogs all night up until about 8:00 on race day. If I were one of these people prone to read the signs of nature, I assuredly would have picked up a case of beer and stayed in my tent all weekend. Alas, we kept at it and I'm glad we did.

The race started slowly. Very slowly. I picked my spot as being on the back of the solo pack at the opening gun. My theory was to not push myself, and starting at the back would force me to pace, since passing people would be a clear indication I Was going faster than I needed to. Or so I thought. Little did I realize my technical and climbing skills would be head and shoulders better than the vast majority in this slowly moving herd. I should say that I've gotten to be a decent technical rider, but I'm certainly not anything special. So obstacle after obstacle was a combination of trying to navigate the rock garden, or log pile, or hill while going around the scores of people unable and often times unwilling to bother trying. For the most part people got out of the way. But often enough someone would think that clipping in and spinning their wheel on a wet log that had just dumped them 2 seconds earlier was an acceptable way of getting out of the way. Here's a clue, it's not.

The course was well laid out, plenty of solid technical challenges but nothing so hard you couldn't nail it on a good day. In all, there was only 1 obstacle I could never clear, which was a big rock laying in wait at the end of a grassy & rocky uphill section. On the last lap I made it up the hill, but by the time I got to the rock I was huffing so hard it was a mistake to try it with no steam. There was another rock that taunted me the first 4 laps, which followed a stream crossing and looked more scary than it was. I nailed it on the final lap which left that single rock as my sole nemesis. I was also able to clean the last brutal hill section on the first and last laps. That was a nice way to end the run.

At the end of lap 2 I started cramping, which became a hard & painful reality on lap 3, when my muscles went into full and utter revolt mode. Improbably, we went back to camp after the 3rd lap and somehow convinced ourselves it was a good idea to ride a 4th lap. Actually, I said, "I think it's a terrible idea." But I then agreed to do it anyway. That combination left Gregg wondering. I explained that just because we were doing it didn't make it any less of a terrible idea.

It turned out to be a good idea. The premise of the lap was that we would walk every hill longer than 20 feet. Woody led most of the way and was very diligent about getting off and walking the hills and many of the rock gardens. Interestingly, this kept us fresh and we ended up posting a lap time only 8 minutes longer than the previous lap. It didn't completely stop my cramps. But by then I had been walking, spinning, and taking it easy enough so they weren't really bothering me that much.

After lap 4 we called it a day. We ate up a bunch of recovery food then hit the showers, which felt remarkably good. It was a cold day (for August) and the hot shower felt amazing. The canteen served up dinner and by 9:00 we were back at the site, tossing around the idea of getting up at 4:00 for a night lap. By the time we went to bed at 10:00 we had bagged this idea in lieu of getting up whenever someone got up first, presumably when it started to get bright out.

That was me at 5:50, and at 6:00 it started pouring rain. We hemmed and hawed until finally I said I was going regardless. I'm sure Woody would have followed but then the rain slowed then stopped, and we all went for the last lap, both of us a little surprised that Gregg emerged from his tent to join us. This was our slowest lap of the race, from 7:15 until 9:00. We took it easy of course. But for me, this was my second best feeling lap of the day. I felt great the whole way through, and as mentioned earlier I was able to clear the final hill at the end.

So that was our race. In all it breaks down as 4 laps in 7.5 hours then a lap in the morning. I was happy we were mostly able to ride for 7.5 hours, with a total of about 90 minutes of break time in between laps (30 minutes per break). We could have been more efficient but what would that have bought us? Given that Woody and I were both cramping on and off, it would have only been worse. I'm also happy my recovery food was good enough to have me geared up to ride 2 more laps the next day. No idea how lap #2 would have felt Sunday morning. But I'm reasonably confident it wouldn't have hurt too much.

Before this race was over I Was already looking forward to next year. Last year it took me about a week to come around. Right now my body is in a fair amount of pain. And as I waited for the train this morning I felt like I had a hangover. Even with that, I'm already itching for the next race, which is a 50k ride in the same park they hold the 24 hour race. But the catch this time is that I can't choose if I do 1 or 5 or 10 laps. This is a single lap. One big 30 mile lap encompassing the whole park. Should be fun!


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