Friday, March 30, 2007
Sweet Redemption...for a Moment
What a weekend! Fasten your seat belts for this will be a bumpy ride! This was my big 2 race weekend! Starting with the finals in Fontucky...I mean Fontana, on Saturday! I had trained very hard for the two weeks leading up to race day, but took the last two days off for a little rest!
Thursday night on my way home from work at the bike shop I pulled into Taco Bell and one of my car tires flatted! What a bummer! $130 later on Friday, I had two new ones. Saturday as I was exiting the freeway in Fontana(about 80 miles from home) I blew one of my rear tires! Unbelievable! I managed to get to the parking lot and decided to wait until later to put on the spare!
I started to warm up and felt a little stiff. I worried that two days off after 12 days of hard riding may not have been the best idea! I decided to try to warm up thru it and felt good by the start of the race. When the horn sounded, I decided to shoot out ahead! I felt good climbing the first ridge and took a peek over my shoulder as we hit the paved road climb! I saw Rory coming and decided to push harder. This is usually the area I feel really cold, but I felt decent. I managed to pass a lot of the slower traffic that held us up in the last race. When I hit the first decent, I knew that Rory was not far back. I quickly caught up to a slower rider but could not pass as we were in the tight singletrack. At a 2 foot rock face drop, the guy ahead of me freaked and went over the handlebars! I was then able to pass and put a little room between Rory and I. Then came the sand! Fontana has always had its sandy sections, but this was unbelievable! There were sections that had to be 2 feet deep! You had to point the wheel and hope for the best! I definitely did not make it look graceful! I weaved thru even more slow traffic before hitting the tough climb on the backside! Rory was gaining again and yelling out the occasional "Here I come!" I decided to hammer the last 1/4 of the climb which was not easy, but I knew I could recover on the decent! That push really hurt me on the next climb though! It really bonked me for 4-6 minutes!
As we hit the switchbacks I screamed for Rory to pick it up! I could see him every time the switchback turned around! We really started to have fun yelling back and forth! As I hit the flats I pushed with all I had in me! I knew I was pushing my fastest lap, and hoped for a last wind. I felt as if I was flying and took the occasional peek over my shoulder. As I came to the last short climb, I jumped off to run up and I heard Rory scream something. I decided not to turn and a guy sitting at the top of the run-up said "here he comes buddy" as I passed. I freaked out and pedaled as fast as I could! As I came across the finish I screamed out "Redemption!" As I turned around I saw Rory come across about 30 seconds back! Freaking awesome! 43 minutes and 11 seconds! 16 minutes faster than my first race! I was so stoked! Even more stoked that Rory had made my race so memorable!
To top off the race finish, they presented the overall trophies for the whole Winter Series! I had managed to get 1st! I cannot explain the payoff I felt for the hard work! Pure joy!
On the way home, after spending another $150 on two rear tires, I stopped at Bonelli Park to register and pre ride the course. I rode it decently slow, but was super stoked on the terrain! It was 100% different from Fontana. Lot's of fast flat sections, and the hardest climbs came near the end of the lap!
Sunday came and I felt really good and rested! People started showing up and it was a lot of people! Super cool scene! I enjoyed watching all the different teams show up and warm up together! As the race approached I started to feel a little nervous! After all I had registered in the next class up, Sport! That meant tougher competition and two laps! I was way excited! I decided that since it was getting hot, I would wear my camelback during the race. I had my Camelback, two bottles of Hammer Heed, a flask of Hammer Perpetuem, and some Hammer Gel. When my class, Sport Clydesdale 34&under lined up, we were also lined up with 35&over as well as expert singlespeeders! So we had about 35 guys in our group! The buzzer sounded and I was off! I took it easy yet seemed to have jumped out ahead of everyone.
On the first bit of incline, some s/s passed, as this would happen a lot over the next long bit of time! I managed to stay in top three of all geared riders that started in our group! I felt really good and managed to pull away from everyone else until I missed a turn and over-rode about 300 yards! It did not look like anyone had passed me, but the two that I had been sticking with disappeared! I then settled into a cadence and pushed along. When we hit the last two climbs, I felt pretty good all the way up! No one was passing me, and that was a good feeling! As I flew down the descent to the lap point I got a small recovery!
As I passed through the lap point I somehow dropped my chain. Quickly I put it on and started the first climb again. About 1 mile into the second lap the pros started to lap me! They started 17 minutes ahead of my group if that gives you any inclination as to how fast they were moving! When we would hit a descent I was able to hang on a pros tire, but if we were on the flats or any sort of climb, they were gone! They really travelled in packs of 3-5 and used each other like roadies do! It was cool to watch. I was starting to feel it a little yet kept pushing hard knowing that I was leading my class.
As I hit about the 16Th of 20 miles, I started up the second to last climb, and that is where my life changed! 5 or 6 peddle strokes up the hill, my whole lower body seized! Maybe seized is the wrong word? Imagine a bungee cord(as my lower body), now imagine that cord stretched tight. If you were to take a sharp knife and just barely cut into the cord, imagine the layers of cord fraying! My muscles felt as if they had snapped and then frayed off into a billion pieces! I instantly fell to the side of the track and started to writhe in pain! As I layed there and stretched I saw rider after rider pass me! I sucked down every single bit of liquid that I had left on me! I believe that I was there for about seven minutes. When I finally loosened up enough to get back on my bike, I had to peddle standing up in order not to re-cramp. I made it up the rest of the climb that way and started the next descent which gave me time to recover a little more. Then we started up the last long climb. I was a 1/4 of the way up when I cramped again and had to spend another 3-4 minutes strengthen! I worried about not being able to finish but managed to get back on and climb the rest of the hill! I hammered as hard as I could all the way through the finish! They called out my name twice as I came thru which was exciting, but all I had on my mind was some sort of liquid! I fell into the grass and rested for a moment before rising to take a swig of some nasty Gatorade!
When they posted the results, I had finished 4 minutes behind 1st place for a second! Very bittersweet my friends! Definitely a learning experience! I am so stoked for the future! I hope to get Rory into this class and have some crazy battles! Even better, it would be nice to have someone to help thru the laps and battle it out at the end! Team Big Bear put on an amazing race and I look forward to the rest of the series with them!
My legs were so thrashed that I had a hard time standing or sitting for the next few days! If it helps you understand how much pain I was in, I finally rode my bike today, Friday, 5 days after the race! I did not even take that much time off when I was sick this winter! Baby, baby, baby! Today's ride was a little painful to both my legs and my ego! The hardest part is that every twinge I feel scares me that it will turn into a cramp! Hope you enjoyed my friends! I will be riding with my friend Mike on Saturday, and Rory an Sunday, so I will let you know what kind of fun that we find!
I also have some big news coming next week! Remember to "Keep on Livin!" and I will hit back soon this next time!