Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shaken Not Stirred

Part two of the Tree Shaker race report, and this will be the last of it. When we left off yesterday, the Dirty Party Cycle was out on his fourth lap for the day. While I was waiting for his return, I was hurting. My neck, back, and both knees were killing me. I had started to cramp a little on the climbs on my last lap, so I tried stretching a little bit. Since I hadn’t really done any long distance riding in a while, my body was protesting. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted him to hurry the hell up so I could get my body moving again, or if I wanted a lot more rest. His lap time was a bit slower, but he still showed up at a decent time.

DPC: That one hurt. I think I only have one more in me.

Me: Okay. Start taking it easy. Drink a beer.

And just like that, I was off again. I took off fast, and I was hurting. I tried to do a little spinning to get myself warmed back up, but it didn’t do any good. I had to at least finish that lap around the same time as my race partner, so I wouldn’t disappoint him. I know he needed a break, but sometimes it’s better just to keep moving. I rode as hard as I could.

Honestly, most of lap number four was a blur. A few times I thought I wasn’t even on the race course anymore, until someone would pass me by. I was mentally exhausted (as well as physically), but somehow I kept going. Maybe next time I’ll actually train for this shit. At least the beer helped dull the pain a little (that’s what I kept telling myself anyway.)

My bike computer stopped working, so I had no idea how many miles I had left. I kept looking at my watch, and tried to use that to figure out how much time I had left. Surprisingly, I wasn’t riding that slow. Slower than when I started, but not at a snail’s pace. Eventually I entered the last section of singletrack, and I used everything I had to pick up the pace and get through it. On one of the last climbs, I saw a familiar bike parked on the side of the trail.

Lunchbox was there with the camera, and as soon as I saw him I hopped off my bike to walk up the rooty climb. I told him to go ahead and take a picture of me walking, but he decided to move a little ways up the trail to preserve what little dignity I had left. My legs were toast, and I didn’t care that I had to walk. After reaching the top, I hopped back on my bike. Lunchbox was a few feet up ahead with the camera.

There was one more fireroad-type climb left to get to the finish line, and I mashed my way up it. A minute later, I looked over and saw my kid pedaling next to me (effortlessly) up the hill. I joked that he’s faster than me when I’m worn out, but he didn’t give me shit at all. He rode with me all the way back to the finish line, and it was nice to have his support. Thanks big fella.

I reached the finish line and the DPC was waiting. He said that this would be his last lap, and again I told him to take it easy. He rode off into the woods, and I sat down for beer number four. He was only up to two beers at this point, so at least I was winning something. As I sat there in my chair, I wondered how long he would be out in the woods. I figured he would do an hour and fifteen minute lap, so I had plenty of time to sit there and suffer (while drinking beer though.) I knew he wouldn’t set any course records on his final lap, so I thought I had all the time in the world.

At the one hour mark, I put on my shoes. I was moving slowly, hoping that I had way more time. Just then, the DPC comes rolling in, and I wasn’t even near the start line. Shit. He rode up to our tent area, and I finished getting ready. No apologies necessary though, because he sure as shit wasn’t going back out for another lap. It was 7:00 p.m., and I had two hours to complete my lap. I put on my jersey, helmet, and gloves, and got ready to roll. The DPC said that I’ll be back by 8:10 p.m., and I laughed. This lap would be a night lap, so I figured that I would be super slow. Even though it was still a little light outside in the field, it was plenty dark in the woods. I turned on my lights and rolled out.

Something changed on this lap. The temperature dropped quite a bit, and I didn’t hurt as much. Maybe it was because I had four beers, or maybe it was because I really love riding at night. Either way, I had a lot more energy and the whole trail seemed new to me. I climbed well up the hills (with no walking this time), and I took the descents at a dangerously fast rate. I didn’t crash, but I had quit a few “Oh shit!” moments out there. After only thirty minutes, it was really dark out there.

It was pretty lonely too. This race had both a six and twelve hour option, and most of the people opted for the six. There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic on the trail, and that suited me just fine. I like to be alone in the dark with my bike. The miles went by quickly, and I forgot how much pain I was in. I felt great, and happy as hell to be out there riding my bike. At that moment I realized why I pay money to do this sort of thing.

My fifth lap seemed shorter for some reason, and before I knew it I saw the finish line. I came in exactly at 8:10 p.m., just like the Dirty Party Cycle had predicted. He was drinking a beer, and I couldn’t wait to have number five. Even though we had time to go back out for another lap, we were satisfied with our effort. We were locked into fourth place, with no chance of moving up. We missed the podium, but did great for two people that didn’t go out there to “race.” The people that actually trained for it should be ashamed since we weren’t that far behind.

When it was all said and done, we completed 95 miles. When I finished the race, I had five laps, five beers, and no crashes. The DPC had five laps, four beers, and one crash. We didn’t stop drinking beer though.

We each had one more beer, then we stopped counting. Everything turned all social and junk at that point, so we didn’t always make it back to the whiteboard to track our beer progress. It was a great day of non-racing, and we enjoyed it all. The pain and suffering was worth it, and I’m glad we were out there mixing it up with those real racers. One thing I learned though, it was a lot tougher doing a duo. Last year I rode eight laps solo, and I didn’t hurt as much as I did this time. That’s okay, because we had a grand ol’ time. Maybe we’ll bring our “A” game next year. Maybe.

No comments: