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Defeat at Warda-2011 Dirty Dozen Recap

February 8, 2011

The Caveman dynasty came to an abrupt end Saturday. It started somewhere in the middle of lap 10 and materialized completely by the end of lap 11. I rolled up to the check in table and scanned in to complete lap 11, but I never scanned out to start lap 12. I threw in the towel. I quit. And I’m still not totally sure why.

Photo courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography

The LeMan’s start went off at 9am. Unlike last year, I had plenty of time that morning to prepare and put my bike in a good spot. Colleen wasn’t racing this year so I had her full top notch support (best pit crew out there!) I was at the front of the group ready for a fast run and a fast start to get ahead of the slow traffic. Everything was going according to plan until I hopped on the bike, slammed down my first pedal stroke and clunk creek clunk stop! Rear wheel slipped out of the dropout. This stupid little problem pops up on Proud Mary every now and then, something with the way the sliding dropout is designed, and it usually happens at inopportune times. So while I stopped to get it fixed, most of the field flew right on by. So, just like last year, I found myself having to sprint like the devil to pass as many people as possible before hitting singletrack and then having to deal with traffic for 2 laps until things spread out.

Nemesis Adrian Barron was out once again, but he was apparently treating the race as more of a ride, and I wasn’t concerned about him. I was concerned about 24 Hour partner in crime John Russell, though. He was out for his first 12 hour race, as was his Cycle Progression buddy Justin Calland. Furthermore, the respected Wink, a former 12 hour champ here as well, had come down from Huntsville to give this thing a shot again. He wasn’t preregistered, so I didn’t know what category he was in. He had some bike issues too on the first lap and when I turned around to check his number plate after passing him, it had an 85 on it. It was my understanding that the Solo 12 guys were in the 1-20 range, so I assumed he was on a two man or doing the 6 hour, an assumption that would affect the outcome of the race.

Laps 2,3,and 4 were fast hard pushes to catch back up with the leaders. They left me a little winded on laps 5 and 6 and I ended up conceding a little more time to Wink (who had passed me back-but I didn’t care since I thought he wasn’t 12 hour solo)  John, and Justin. I think I may have even dropped to 5th place at one point and was starting to feel demoralized at this point. But, we weren’t even at the halfway mark yet and I figured if I just kept things steady maybe the others would start to succumb to fatigue. I’ve come from behind several times before, and it’s a position I’ve built a reputation on, but these days I avoid it like the plaque if I can. I regained strength on laps 7 and 8 and eventually overtook Justin for 3rd. He was putting up a surprisingly strong effort and we swapped spots a time or two until Colleen told me I was chipping away at John’s and Wink’s lead.

This gave me encouragement for an even faster 9th lap. The split to John had been erased from 7 mins to 2 min, so a hard push on the 10th lap would surely catch him, and it did. I was elated to have finally caught back up after hours of chasing hard. It had come with great cost though. I was battling a painful cramp in my left hamstring. My right shoulder blade was also stinging sharply, wreaking a little havoc on my handling abilities, especially on the rooty descents. Above all, an old pain in my left knee that forced me to pull out in 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo years ago was starting to surface. It was becoming pretty clear that I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in for the level of competition that had showed up this very day. I really only had about 5 weeks of good training following Christmas to get ready for this thing. To make matters worse, I wasn’t following my normal Caveman routine with fruit, Caveman energy bars, and Puresport. I was actually taking in energy gu’s, something I never do. The demanding pace had me craving straight up sugar. I had also chosen to run gears at this venue (albeit only 9), and ironically the race leader was on a singlespeed.

As John and I finished that 10th lap together and even rode the 11th lap together, things slowed down, and lots of thoughts began to invade my mind. The knee pain intensified a little, although not severely. I couldn’t help but flashback to the agony at Tucson, and the months of rehab afterwards. Wink was a good ways up, and maybe I could’ve caught him, maybe not. With the new pace we were riding, my mind certainly didn’t to think so. I was in the 11th lap and still had 4 hours to go. The course was getting really boring. I found myself  not having fun anymore .Warda is fun for a few laps but gets old quickly.  Yes I was tired and hurting, but fatigue I can deal with. Something was different about this race.

The will to continue was gone. Just like that. The engine was in ok shape, it even had gas left in the tank, but it was if the battery had been disconnected.  No eye of the tiger, no burning flame, no glory to be had, just an emptiness I couldn’t really explain. After scanning in for my 11th and final lap, I told John to go on and finish 2nd, and he did. Justin held on for 3rd place. Wink killed it on a singlespeed and handily took the win. I was impressed and happy with everyone’s effort, except maybe mine. All I could do after that point was watch rider after rider go by lap after lap and watch my standing go from 2nd to 12th (out of 16) by 8pm. Would my knee pain have gotten worse and really forced me to quit? Who knows? I could’ve pushed on and found out the hard way. Was there a chance of catching Wink and maybe even winning? Looking back at the lap splits, yes, but hindsite is 20/20. Do I harbor a little regret for making that call? Yes, but I’m also glad I didn’t seriously injure my knee.

I’ve got a little soul searching to do this week. I’ve got to take some time and get a feel for the direction I’d like my athletic endeavours to take this year. Part of me wants to go completely Caveman, lay down the bikes,  and run around barefoot in the wilderness throwing sticks and rocks for fitness. And I’m sure I’d stay pretty fit that way. The other part can’t seem to escape the Western ideals of competition. There’s just something about competition that brings out the best in athletes.  No rush to come to any conclusion, it will come to me when the time is right.

Thanks for reading, and sorry if this race report leaves you feeling a little empty. I would still like to thank all my sponsors who had a hand in the race:

Performance Wellness for ART body work, Puresport for liquid fuel, Bobcat13 Photography for awesome race pics ( if you were there, buy some photos from the these guys, they are super cool guys), and Eastside Pedalpushers for bike parts and service.

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