Thursday, October 14, 2010
Yeah, this is the last installment of the Tree Shaker saga. After dragging it out the last few days, I’m ready to give you the conclusion. I know it’s a little odd that the report for a 12 hour race has taken three days, but whatever.
I had completed 5 laps for a total of 45 miles at this point. My break was a little long again this time, but I knew I had to rest up enough to be able to finish my 8 lap goal. I ate another sandwich, drank two more bottles of the old people milkshake stuff, and drank plenty of Gatorade. I figured I had just taken in about 1200 calories after lap 5, so I knew that would be enough to keep me going. I headed out on the trail for lap 6, ready to bring it home.
Lap 6 was a little different than the rest. I felt okay, but I was starting to make dumb little mistakes on the trail. My mind was in a haze (thanks to Jimi Hendrix for singing through my headphones to remind me), and I was kind of on autopilot at this point. I slid off the trail on a couple of fast descents, and narrowly avoided getting up close and personal with a few trees. I was still trying my best to leave it all out on the trail though, even if “it” was my own blood (or bike parts.)
At about the 4 mile mark, some guy slowly passed me and we exchanged some pleasantries. When he went by me, I tried to hang onto his wheel to keep me moving. Barrelling down a long, twisty downhill section, I took a turn too sharp and slid out on the trail. I was still clipped into my pedals, so my right leg took the brunt of the fall. The guy that just passed me was up ahead, and I heard him ask if I was okay. I mumbled, “Yeah”, even though I wasn’t sure if I was okay. I quickly hopped up and checked to see if my bike had sustained any damage (that’s the first rule in a crash, check the bike.) Since I crashed on the derailleur side of The Big O, I feared that I had broken something. The drivetrain was good, and the only damage I noticed was this:
My Cane Creek Ergo 2 Bar End had suffered a minor scrape. No big deal. As for me, I suffered a little more of the scraping. With my leg trapped under the bike as I fell, I had some nice road rash action. I didn’t take a photo on the spot, but the next day it looked like this:
I know it doesn’t look like much, but it stung like hell. It wasn’t enough to make me think about stopping the race, so I quickly hopped on my bike to finish the lap. I took the rest of the lap a little more cautious, and I survived lap 6. I was now at a total of 54 miles, and I was close to the end.
Now it was time for some night riding. This was one major reason that I wanted to “race” for 12 hours, so I felt extra energized. I installed my ghetto lights on The Big O and my helmet, ate a little more food, and sat down for a few. I briefly thought about hitting up the medic (Little Miss Sunshine) for some first aid, but my lack of better judgement prevented me from doing so. My leg was stinging pretty bad at this point, but the joy of getting to ride at night quickly made me forget about the pain. I headed out in the darkness for lap 7.
I couldn’t go as fast as I normally would, since I could only see as far as my lights would let me. I didn’t need to crash again, especially in the dark. I had this huge, silly smile on my face since I was riding in the cool night air, and it felt great. I kept seeing all sorts of shit out on the trail, like weird shadows, woodland creatures, and imaginary people. I’m not positive, but I think I saw this guy in a creek near the trail:
Seriously, that’s what it looked like anyway. I was most likely hallucinating, but it was fun as hell. It was so peaceful out in the darkness with only a little light to guide me on the singletrack. I thought, “This is why I do this crazy shit. It’s so much fun.” After a few close calls with some suicidal rabbits, I exited the trail and headed up the now dark, gravel road to the pit area. Lap 7 was in the books.
The time was 7:55 p.m. The cutoff for the last lap was 8:30, so I couldn’t rest long if I wanted to get out for one final lap. I had no idea where I was in the standings, but that didn’t matter anyway. My personal goal was 8 laps, and I was so close to making it. I thought, “After 63 miles, what’s another 9?” After one more tasty Ensure, I headed back to the start line. I talked to Little Miss Sunshine for a moment, and told her I would be finished soon. As I tried to step over my bike to ride away, my left quad cramped up and I fell over. Of course, a bunch of people started asking, “Are you alright?” but I was fine. That was the only instance of cramping I had experienced at that point, so I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I massaged my leg for a minute and headed back out.
I’d like to tell you that I remember lap 8, but I really don’t. Well, the only thing I clearly remember is that I saw more weird shit in the woods. Since I was pretty loopy at that point, it helped pass the time. I was singing out loud to the songs on my mp3 player, and enjoying the nighttime air. With about 2 miles left in the lap, two riders came up behind me. We were the last people out on the trail, and we were all near the end. I approached the gravel road one final time, and I was so happy. I crossed the finish line after 12 hours of racing, and I completed 72 miles on a mountain bike. My goal of 8 laps was met, and I was pretty proud of myself. Aside from the crash, a little lower back pain, and the mystery leg cramp I suffered before lap 8, I was in pretty good shape. I packed up my stuff, changed my clothes, and headed over to the awards ceremony.
Apparently, some baby pumpkins had entered the race and did quite well. I didn’t fare so bad either. Although I didn’t get a podium spot, I managed to claw out a 7th place finish in the solo 12 hour class. I didn’t care about that though, since I was basically in a race against myself. I dug into the beer cooler and rewarded myself for my effort (actually I rewarded myself a lot.)
It was a good night, and a good race. I can’t wait until next season. The details of this recap may be a bit fuzzy, but the fact that I completed my first solo 12 hour race was a huge accomplishment for me. The best part (other than the night riding) is that I didn’t suffer one mechanical issue. No flats, no broken parts, nothing. Even though I was totally prepared with a fully loaded Awesome Strap, I never had to use it. That made the whole thing a success right there.
I won’t be back here tomorrow. I got sucked into some stupid out of town meeting for work, and it will cut into my blog posting time. I’m sure to get into plenty of shit over the weekend, so I’ll be back here bright and early Monday morning talking about something other than the Tree Shaker. That’s good news for you.