Please name that pop star…
Yesterday was an outstanding day. Planning, training, scouting, nutrition, pacing, control; all came together and therein my expectation were exceeded substantially. Riding past wall street on Potash I was weeping out of joy.
It all feels a bit funny now. Chris, Fred, Ed, Marni, Derrick and everyone at the finish were congratulatory and wonderful, and that’s the only kind that really seems to matter. Because what I want is understanding, the impossible understanding of someone who has been exactly where I was and did exactly what I did. And felt how I felt. All impossible. Though with peers from the race a little bit less so.
It also does not make sense that, relative to the field, I did as well as I did. I think that in the end it will be like rock climbing: I was never an especially talented or strong climber, but I could be very analytical, creative, and persistent. Chris said he had several navigational issues, and Ed had never seen any of the course! I never had doubts as to where to go, and mentally being in command saved lots of energy. Still, my training is not that dedicated, and its oddly difficult to accept success. (I’ll stop peeing in my cheerios now.)
I had serious paranoia directed towards nutrition, and that went very well indeed. I’ve been hungry today, but not inhumanly ravenous (yet). During the race I ate:
6 packages of Clif Blocks (1200 calories)
1 Clif bar (~400 calories)
3 mini Paydays (270 calories)
4 sticks of deer jerky (~?? calories)
~2.3 gallons of Cytomax (~~1000 calories)
Looks good on paper, enough but not too much. It’s a great game: while colleagues and students worry about loosing weight, I try to get as many calories as easily as can be.
The only thing that didn’t cooperate, besides forgetting to charge my iPod, was the weather. It made a compelling argument for singlespeeding, and gave me an advantage, as the only time I was passing people was while pushing. Besides thoroughly de-lubing my chain and taking some paint off the insides of the chainstays, my rig responded well. The Time pedals proved their design, once I got the crap off my cleats I could always clip in.
The actual riding went well. I lost complete track of who was where during the dark: I knew someone with a bright light and Chris where ahead, and that Adam was behind. I followed Essam on his Moots for most of Bar M. I actually rode Little Sahara, and had most of sovereign to myself, stream crossings and all, with an anonymous rider occasionally visible ahead. Until the greenie meenie happened conditions where actually excellent, and I indulged in lots of yips and ledge-hopping shenanigans, trying and failing to “race” and be serious. Taking a Bentonite corner far to fast, my rear wheel washed right and I did a 180, retaining rectitude and forward motion until the surprise caused me to loose balance and crash. I thought my rear wheel had shifted (it was actually the de-lubed chain feeling stiff) so pulled out my wrench to fix it. Instead, the 6mm allen insert in my 15 year-old Ritchey CPR-9 parted company with the tool, and I decided off necessity that no mechanicals would occur that day, because I couldn’t take my rear wheel off. Easy.
I repassed Adam and the gearies on the big pushes. I was focusing on enjoying not falling on my face, and assuming that the top of the mesa would suck less. It actually rocked, the green was just coming in and made for very pretty and fun riding. Zipping down to the wash under the road and the first “check point” I was enjoying life. A couple was sitting in the road out of the wash looking less amused, as was Derrick when I caught him. I tried to rub off some cheerfulness, but his crank kept coming loose, and its hard to put a good spin on that (hehe). Then, right before I realized the mud on the 7-mile Rim climb was going to suck, I saw a pale blue jersey and a bike with racks up above me.
No way am I catching Randy! Damn, I’m doing well!!
I expected that to be a repeat of SSAZ last month, I’d see Randy pulling ahead in the first three minutes and that would be it. Alas, he actually took a wrong turn and was struggling with a dromedary not staying put on his rear rack, but I was gonna take it anyway. I pulled ahead and focused on riding light to save my hands. Derrick and Kevin G (with derailleur, still) passed me, but I dropped them definitively pushing through the sand west of wipe out.
Then I passed Marshall. Who started at 4am and rode the loop in 18:09. DFL deserves mad respect in these events, that is some serious saddle time. Marshall told me I was in the top-10, which I really didn’t believe at all. I asked him a couple times, just to cement being “that guy,” and moved on to the slickrock feeling truly motivated. I was coming up onto the distance half mark and feeling pretty damn good. Plenty of water in potholes; and it was still morning. This was the first time finishing seemed like a good possibility.
I caught Ed at 313, and was psyched to chat as we climbed into a headwind (and resisted then temptation to suck his wheel, against regulations I imagine). Delightful that biking people from the net end up being modest, friendly, and interesting, rather than creepy. So Ed, gonna bring back the VT125 this year?
We chatted and rode a buisness-like pace until the top grinds on metal masher, at which point it became evident that Ed, who deflatingly had never ridden any of the course, was stronger than I. He graciously waited a bit, and eventually pulled away going down. Gotta save the hands. I did clean all of mirror gulch, unlike two weeks ago, and was still enjoying the riding in spite of mild back and shoulder cramps (hmmm, Reba?).
Zipping along the easy roads after, half-chasing Ed, it really occured to me that I was going to do this. Barring a major physical or mental meltdown, or catastrophic mechanical, it was a mathematical certainty. I had already passed the “no mechanicals” rule, and after coming this far there was no way in hell I was going to not keep going, so it was decided. I reached THE TURN, innocuous sandy patch that is was, at 1501, and rode right on through.
The next 3.5 hours where my own private world. A cyclist on Poison Spider tried to ask directions to the Portal, but I was not in a state to be helpful. Suffice to say Dave, that I walked a lot. Exactly as planned. Gold Bar was fine, long, but planned for. The singletrack was fun, and would be really cool one day when I’m not knackered. Poison Spider sucked. 3.5 hours of routine inevitability. I knew I was going to do it, I knew it would be “not fun.” That’s it.
I tried to not run into jeeps before I got to the pavement, and then sat up and enjoyed the 40 minute, 120 rpm spin of victory. I managed to not crash putting on a jacket, and didn’t crash while crying either. I resisted the temptation to taunt the climbers flailing, and kept drinking. Jumping the fence and cutting across the tailings pile seemed like a good idea for at least 30 seconds in a row. The myriad bike tracks in the sandy bits of the bike path made me happy.
Then I was done. Under the bridge, surge up the last tiny rise for good style, punch the air, and get off the fucking bike.
Chris and Marni where saints and let me take a shower in their room.
Chips and beer tasted really good. Food was ok, I ate as much as I could stand for the sake of prudence.
Drove south 30 minutes and crashed under the stars. Slept very well.
Great, great, great to be on the same universe as that crew. Let’s do it again soon?!
(We’ll make reservations for after the KTR!!! For real, Ed.)