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No One Said It Would Be Easy

May 23, 2011
hucking it up a climb

Photo Courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography

Good Lord Almighty. Following the progress I’ve been having with my shoulder-slow, but steady- I decided in the eleventh hour that the last TMBRA race of the season would be a good morale booster. I was even hopeful that I could still hang with the big boys in the Singlespeed Open category. It is always important to separate your hopes from your expectations! ESPECIALLY after 9 weeks off the bike. Especially when you decide to restart your racing career riding a rigid singlespeed on the course I had to ride Sunday with the weather that ensued.

New for the Rocky Hill race this year was a Euro style short 4 mile loop. The Pros had to do 5 laps, and singlespeeders got a “break” only having to do 4 laps. I parenthesize “break”, because the course was not very singlespeed friendly. A lot of new trail had been cut connecting some of the hillier parts of the course making it a constant up or down slug through the woods. The new cuts weren’t broken in yet either, making for a bumpy ride. Either that, or I’ve just become extremely wussified. I think had it not been around 95 degrees with 75% humidity it would have been a little more tolerable. Instead, it turned out to be one of the worst suffer fests I’ve ever endured. Thank God it only lasted 1 hour and 49 minutes.

But still, I’m usually able to excel in difficult weather conditions. It is blatantly obvious to me how important conditioning is to overcoming such obstacles. My body was working double overtime trying to hang with the field, and that effort, compounded with the heat, nearly put in me in heat exhaustion. I thought about throwing in the towel mid way through lap two. This thought was reinforced when I came across Jeff Campbell, a super tough singlespeeder catching his breath at the top of the worst climb on the whole course. He was cussing the heat and saying how he was going to quit when he reached the finish. Must have changed his mind, because after I changed my mind to keep going I saw him taking off for the third lap. That third had me questioning whether my decision to continue was a good one. At this point I was forced to walk the tougher climbs.

On the last lap, I was starting to feel cold shivers and could feel things starting to shut down. Luckily, there was a beer party sponsored by Shiner hanging out at the top of “The Wall”. I desperately needed something cold, and this place had my answer. With a simple left arm reaching towards the masses, a cold pint of Shiner Bock beer magically appeared in my hand. The frosty beverage was downed in one fell swoop, and after paying my respect to the hecklers I was off again. It was just what I needed to make it to the finish line.

I spent some time at the Bicycle Sport Shop tent (my wife’s team, she raced earlier in the morning) cooling down with ice and more beer. There didn’t seem to be any shortage of beer at this race and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t about to enjoy it after that hell hole of a bike ride. I ended up 5th of 8, only because 3 riders Did Not Finish ( I think the heat took its toll on them too). The price for my “moral victory” was quite steep. Heat exhaustion is no laughing matter. But in the end, I’m glad I went out and gave  it a go. The support from fellow racers and spectators who were happy to see me back out doing what I love was very encouraging. Thanks to everyone who passed along kind words or pats on the back.

From here I start doing what I should have done prior to this race, gradually get back in shape, and who know maybe I’ll find some odd races to do in the summer  but Fall will remain my main focus. That day long race at the end of October is still kind of on my mind too 🙂 Hope everyone has a fun and safe memorial day weekend and enjoys the start to another summer!

Caveman

coming down the log jam

Photo Courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography

Here is a little less painful looking picture on the first lap when I still had a little zip in me!

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