Monday, October 24, 2011

I’m Dying

“You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do."

I’m not sure if that’s why I decided to do my first-ever singlespeed race over the weekend (the North Carolina Single Speed Championship), and I’m still not sure if it was a good idea. Whatever sickness overcame me last week has been steadily getting worse, and I really should have just stayed in bed. Hell, I should still be there.

Like the other races I sign up for in advance, I was going to this one no matter what. We got there way early for the 11:00 a.m. check-in, and I started forgetting that I was actually sick. At least that kept the pre-race jitters away though. Since I had two hours until my race start though, it was plenty of time to let the sickness creep back in. I tried to stop and chat with everyone I knew out there to keep my mind off of it, and I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my cold/flu/death virus away. Until we lined up for the LeMans start anyway.

I’m there, all the way on the back. I was squatting down because I was too dizzy to stand up. After waiting for a few minutes, we took off in a sprint for our bikes just a few yards away. I couldn’t even manage to get my legs to make me run fast, so I started out near the back. I hopped on my bike, and immediately started “racing.” The original plan was to take it easy, but that’s hard to do when you have other people around with numbers on their bikes. I went out hard, and mashed my way through the first part of the course.

We exited the short little island singletrack, and I had moved up a place or two. We were on a long gravel path leading around the man-made channel, and I was spinning like crazy to catch the leaders. Even though I was running a 32X18, it wasn’t enough. I would have to make up my deficit on the climbs. Shit

We entered the singletrack, and I was gaining on the leaders. I passed two guys on the first climb, and saw another in my sights. My lungs were hurting from my sickness, but I put that on the back burner and concentrated on racing. When I passed the next guy, I mashed a little harder up the climb to put a gap between us. Next up was a downhill section, which I thought would help me even more. It did, until I speared a tree with my shoulder.

Stopping so quickly when you’re pushing hard is a big no no. All of a sudden I was in pain from the crash, and my lungs realized that I was trying to race. I thought it was all over, but somehow managed to get back on my bike and get going again. I planned to finish this race even if it killed me (which seemed likely at this point.)

I made my way through the course at an okay speed, and I could still hear the leaders up ahead. That kept me going a bit, but the sickness was dragging me down with each pedal stroke and breath of air. A little ways in, I saw Lunchbox waiting with the camera.

I told him I had crashed and that I was hurting, and he said, “Already?” Thanks kid.

After somehow getting up Goat Hill (with a combination of walking and mashing), I relaxed a little on the downhill. There was one more big climb to go though, and I tried to prepare myself for it. There were two guys in sight up the hill, so I mashed as hard as I could. I ended up hopping off and running the rest of the way up, which probably saved me a little energy. Next was a nice long downhill.

At this point I only saw one guy ahead of me (the other must have hauled ass.) I rode his wheel on the downhill, and it pissed me off because he was riding his brakes and there was no room to pass. Eventually he got away on the next climb, and I was feeling sicker by the minute. I knew the worst climbs on the course were behind me though, so I used what little energy I had left to keep going.

The first guy (that I thought had lost me) was up ahead and having trouble on the short, rooty climbs. I blew past him on one of them, and set my sights on “Riding the Brakes Guy.” I found him again on another downhill, and as soon as I tried to go around him he cut me off. I crashed into his wheel, which fortunately didn’t hurt either of us. I kept my mouth shut and went around him, hoping to use whatever energy I had left to get the hell off the course.

The final stretch, and Lunchbox was there again with the camera. I exited the woods and crossed the finish line, and I felt like doo doo. In fact, this felt worse than last weekend’s 12 hour race. I parked my shit in the grass and proceeded to die.

Although I stuck around to watch the second wave of racers, I didn’t check to see where I finished. I knew it wasn’t good enough for a podium spot, so we left before the awards were given. That wasn’t my goal anyway. I just wanted to finish my first singlespeed race, and I did that. I guess if you come back tomorrow I can give some sort of expert analysis on my uh, “performance” out there. That is, if I don’t die before then. Stay tuned.

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