Just 99 miles to go

Saturday, June 30, 2007

12 hours of cranky monkey. My very first race.

The race was held on a Sunday the day after my family left for the beach. It was to be the start of a week long vacation. I raced and then drove up alone and met them there on Tuesday.

Saturday afternoon after they left I finished getting ready for the race. Lubing the geared bike, making sure the single speed was ready to go as a spare (in case), and getting and packing supplies I might need. I biggest thing was packing my camelback. My team mates had convinced me that although we'd only be out for an hour at a time, I should use the camelback so I wouldn't fall behind on hydration. I spent some time just going over the contents of the CB. I wanted to be prepared for a mechanical but didn't want to weight myself down more than necessary.

The last detail would be to hit the grocery store for food items. With no idea what to bring I got 3 bags of chips, a bottle of peanuts, and some lunch meat. I can hear ya now, what kind of race food is that? Its not. Race food that is. Believe me , I was craving alot of other things during the race and none of those were it.

I woke up at 4:45. Surprisingly I slept pretty good. I was worried about being up most the night with nerves but that never happened.

Got to the base about 6:30. Man there were alot people there already. I grabbed my e-z up (pop up sun screen) outta the truck and walked to the "camp" area. The area was set up inside a fenced in area of a baseball field. First thing that crossed my mind was a refugee camp. Little tents and shade canopies set up all sorts of junk strewn all over hell. Cool.

I had to find our designated camp spot. Brad and Eric (my team mates) had been there the day before and picked out our spot. I still hadn't met Brad and couldn't remember what Eric looked like so I'm walking around looking for a green canopy, and somebody taller,skinnier, and 2 years older than me. Thats all I knew about brad so far. Eric spotted me and saved me the embarressment of walking around for too like like a lost lumberjack.

We set up the ez up and than Brad showed up. He didn't look taller than me. Ok, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe a 1/4". They decided that since brad had tweaked his back last weak , eric would take the first lap . The dreaded Lemanns start lap. We had already ruled me out to save us the embarresment of me "skipping" to my bike with my bum knee.

Me and brad walked eric over to the area where the bikes were placed for the race start than waited there to watch while eric walked over for running start. Eric warned me that watching bikers run in lycra and cycling shoes was funny. He was right.

Eric was taking this pretty seriously, he was mid pack during the run and thats where he got on his bike at.

He was now out on the trail and it was time for me and brad to decide who would go 2nd. I had figured out the day before that with expected lap times the 3rd rider would only get 3 laps while 1 and 2 would get 4 laps. I kinda wanted to do 4, but thought since brad arranged all this , I'd give him the option. We spent about 5 minutes going back and forth. "You can go 2nd", "no, you can go 2nd if you want". I think I finally got it through my head that he wanted me to go next. I was happy with that.

Now the nerves started to kick in. Shit, 40 minutes to get ready to race!
I finished getting ready in 10. Ok, what do I do now?
Sit here with butterflies in my stomach?
I started helping brad tinker with his bike. He said he was having problems with his bike shifting into the big ring.
You wanna fix shifting problems now!
I tinkered for 15 minutes and than walked me and my bike over to the transition area.

The transition area is where your team mate comes in from his lap and you start. You sign in first to let them know your "on deck". When your buddy comes in he goes to the volunteer and hands them the "baton". In this case is looked like a 6" piece off of a yard stick. You then take the baton and start your lap.

I'm expecting eric to show up about 9:15. We figured 75 minutes for the first lap but damned if at 9:05 he comes rolling in. Both me and Brad give an audible "damn" he must be smoking.

We have a little skirmish at the transition. I forget at first to grab the baton out of his CB and give it to him, then he forgets to stuff if into mine. Finally I have the baton and I'm off.

I "jog" over to where my bike is and fight with getting it off the rack. I've hung in up like I saw the other racers did. Being that its and xl frame it doesn't slide out easily like everybody elses. Pull, push, angle the bike down and its finally free.

I take off across the field and enter the single track. Right away I'm on the tail of another rider. We quickly come up on the first ascent. I'm just keeping pace with him but he soon washes out and I pass. Keep in mind that ascents are not my strong point. I'm huffing like a freight train and run outta steam before I reach the top. Jump off and push to top. Atleast the other guy didnt pass.

The first 15 minutes I can't seem to get a groove. The nerves are jumping all over the place. I'm blowing up on all the ascents and tensing up on the descents. I hold the brakes on a tight turn at the bottom of a sandy decent and go down with 4 guys behind me. They make sure I'm OK before one says "Those right turns are a bitch, I hear there are a few more on the course". That made me laugh and eased my tension. I got in behind some of the group that passed me and decided to try to just keep up with them. I start relaxing and getting a pretty good flow. I'm now following 1 rider. He'd get ahead of me on the ascents but I quickly would catch up on the decents.

It finally came to point where he wasn't getting ahead of me on ascents and I was right on his butt on the descents. I'm pretty sure he was blowing up trying to stay ahead of me on the ups.

Finally he had enough and pulled to the side and let me pass.
Me, actually outriding and passing someone.
I never expected that.
I'm beginning to realize that the descents might be my strong spot.
I'm getting passed a little on the ups but on the flats and downs I'm holding my own.

I come up on a girl rider next and she is riding the brakes going down everything.
I wanna pass but on every ascent she pulls away.
On one ascent a guy passes me. Now I'm riding on this guys butt who's riding on the girls butt.
On a flat area she rides the right side of the trail and says to go ahead and pass. The guy zips in front of her real fast and before I could get by she get back in the center of the trail.
What about me ya bitch.
I didn't say that of course.
I knew that we were coming up on a 5' high log pyramid and with the way she had been riding I had good idea (well I was praying anyways) that she couldn't make it.
The pyramid comes into sight and sure enough she moves over to the left and starts to slow down.
I yell "on your right" and take the pyamid at full speed.
Right after the pyramid is a steep ascent. I stall 1/2 way up and have to walk. All I can think about is not letting this girl get back in front of me and run as fast as I can up this damn hill.

I never saw her again after that .

Rest of the lap was pretty uneventful although I almost endoed on a "laddered" log that I had cleared during my pre ride.

Back at the transition table brad had a little problem finding the baton. I thought at first I had lost it on my one wreck but it ended up being buried deep in one of my pockets where eric had stashed it for me.

to be continued.

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