Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Iceman Wenteth

OK, so I really want to post more pics with my posts, but I only seem to think about posting while at work, and don't always have access to the pictures that I want to post. So the result is I don't post. Hence my recent absence... But here goes..

What a GREAT freakin' ride. I swear I'm the only person I know that actually had fun DURING my ride this weekend. Everyone I've talked to had all sorts of miserable race stories of regurgitation, crashes, and cramping. While I managed to keep the food (and the rubber) down, I did do battle with some pretty bad quad cramps. But even that was not able to prevent me from thoroughly enjoying my first Iceman on the Single Speed. Not even the fact that I was riding a borrowed bike, on new tires, with a gear combination that I was completely unfamiliar with (changed the night before, also borrowed) was enough to sour my day (though the night before was a different story ;) ).

Would I say I kicked ass? No. I was REALLY hoping for a sub 2 hour time. However, that time would have put me in the top 15 in the class, and none of my very fast SS friends went sub 2:00 either, so I guess I shouldn't complain. I did meet my goal of a top 30 finish by finishing 24th, just behind Jay Jones and Todd Scott, two very fast SSer's who I respect very much. I was also hoping for a top 25% finish over the whole field, and I beat that as well finishing in the top 17% (296th/1920).

Honestly, most of the race is a blur right now, but I'll try to recount.

I was late to the finish as I ran back to the car to strip off some layers (easy ladies.. :P ) as I approached the line, I heard them call my group. I had to raise the P.U.S.S. over my head and wade through 3 waves to get up to the middle of my wave. Bummer, I really wanted a spot nearer the front and outside. The gun went off, I was able to stay to the outside and move up a little, and as we hit the trail, I was able to pass pretty easily, making me glad I went with the lower gear (40x18 vs 40x17) I settled into a good spin, not too worried about traffic, knowing that opportunities to pass would abound. I wasn't stuck in too slow of traffic for the initial "single track" sections, so I was able to be patient.

At about 3 or so miles in, I was trading spots with some dude who couldn't climb the ant hills we were in to save his life. On a flat he goes by, not calling his pass. Just up a head was Danielle Musto, eventual Women's SS winner. He attempts to squeeze by on her left (again, no audible warning that I could hear). They end up rubbing elbows, throwing Danielle's balance, and eventually causing her to crash. I know she would have given plenty of room had he announced his intention to pass. Please, call your passes! Luckily, she was un-injured and went on to perform well!

Later excitement included being caught up by my buddy D, a long time racer, but who's taken some time off. I was very happy to be riding at his pace at this point. This was also his first time back on a SS in a while, and a 29er at that, so I'm sure there's some adjustment going on. I latched on to his wheel, and planned to ride there as long as I could manage. Not long after, however, D picked up a huge tree branch (limb?!) that wreaked a little havoc with his rear end (of the bike you sickos!) I continued on expecting that D would soon rejoin me. He never did. Turns out other issues with chain and seat height slowed him down even further.. :(

Williamsburg road was AWESOME. I was just starting to feel a bonk coming on just prior to Williamsburg. I did another espresso Hammer Gel, and then came upon the awesome folks at what is commonly the largest spectator spot on the course. The PA announcer called out my name, and people cheered my on by my number, or by my noticeably pink bike, or at the fact that I was on a single speed. What a boost! Better than the caffeine in that gel :D!

I was quickly back into a good rhythm. At one point I picked up a couple geared riders hanging on to MY wheel. I told them I was going to tell all their friends that they were drafting a single speeder.. On the FLATS even. For shame ;)

With about 5 miles to go it started. First my left quad started giving me that playful tensing at the bottom of the pedal stroke as I climbed on of the many hills in the last few miles. Then the right joined in the fun. Soon, both legs were cramping just shy of full lock-up on each pedal stroke. It was NOT fun. But my legs were still moving, and I told myself that I have as long as I need to recover, so I was just going to keep pushing. The only thing getting me off this bike was going to be a complete leg seize up. Then came "Oh Shit" Hill. So the only thing getting me off the bike was going to be a complete muscle lock up or "Oh Shit" hill. And that's all. Really. And there's that loooonnngg climb after "Oh Shit". But that was it. (seriously :D ).

No matter how well you prepare yourself for it, the finishing "maze" is always a mental blow. You think you're so much closer to the finish than you are. D called out my name as we passed each other as we negotiated the Iceman's small intestines. That was all I needed. The motivation to ride hard to the end. No matter how long they strung us out, turn after turn, single track or chute, I wasn't going to let ANYONE pass me. Finally. The Finish. Success!

I felt like all those Tour stage winners I see on TV. Pumping both fists in the air. Yeah, it seems a little anti-climactic, or perhaps a little presumptuous, but it was what felt right at the time. What a great race.

Lets just say that the partying that followed the race was perfect as a celebration to the end of the season. And the hangover that followed the next day was certainly the hangover to end all hangovers... :P Can't wait to do it again. ;)



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