Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It’s Over Johnny

With the 2010 Winter Short Track Series coming to a close on Saturday, I was left wondering what was next. While attending the after-race series party at East Boulevard Bar and Grill, I got word that there was a planned ride at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Sunday morning. Some guys from the Carolina Bicycle Company were planning on hitting the trails out there, so a few of us were coaxed into tagging along.

After a few phone calls, we decided to meet up at around 10:00 a.m. I left the house pretty early, hoping that my early arrival wouldn’t keep anyone waiting. When I got to the trailhead, the MadSS was already on the scene. Moments later, Patrick showed up. By the way, he really needs a “handle” for this blog, other than the obvious “faster than me on most days.” That’s just too many words to use for someone’s nickname. Anyway, they started to get ready for a “fun” ride.

Next on the scene was the Dirty Party Cycle. After I let him know about the ride the night before, he left me a message stating that he wasn’t so sure about hanging with the race team at the lovely Catawba trails. I concurred, and relayed to him what the MaddSS told me. He said that we will just try to “hang on” and hope for the best. That’s all we could do, since those team guys were so fast. The DPC started to get ready too.

I was ready too, except for the fact that I neglected to do something before I got there that I would regret later on. More details to follow.

We all huddled up to plan our ride.

The Carolina guys showed up, and we headed across the parking lot to have a chat with them. The fastest guys they had were all present and accounted for, so I thought that we might be in for some pain. I was concerned, since I had only been riding short distances in the well, Short Track Series. What the hell did I get myself into? We decided to head out on the trail ahead of those guys, knowing full well that they would catch up quickly. Our plan was to ride as fast as we could.

We hit the trail at a moderate speed, trying to loosen up as we went along. It was so nice to ride a “real” trail, since the short track was not really technical at all. The faster we went, the happier I was that I was no longer riding the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth anymore. Goose seemed to flow with the trail. Now if I could only get my legs to follow.

We pushed our speed, and stopped every so often to regroup and also to take turns leading. My “race pace” was far from that of the MadSS, but he showed us a little mercy every now and then. Since he was riding a single speed, we thought that we should have been able to keep up. That was not the case. Maybe there is something to this single speed thing. And by the way, the Carolina guys passed us rather early on, looking like a big blurry orange train. That was disheartening, to say the least.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t too winded after the first lap. Sure, it hurt to climb some of the steep inclines there, but I didn’t have a lot of trouble. About 3 miles from the end of the first lap, I had already finished my water bottle. At this point, it was just the DPC and I. Patrick got way up ahead, and part of that may have been because he missed one of the smaller loops. I nearly missed it too, but I turned around to make sure I hit it. I was out there to push my limits, so I didn’t want to short change myself. The DPC and I hurried through the last bit of trail to the parking lot, and we all met up again. We refilled our water, and decided to do another lap at a “slower” pace. When we headed back out, I took the lead. Instead of a slow pace however, I pushed it pretty hard. We were all stuck together like a pack of wolves, so I thought that my pace was okay. Patrick did make a comment that we were supposed to be doing a slower lap, but the MadSS said the pace was good. I probably should have slowed down. At the end of the first loop, the MadSS took the lead again. We all tried our best to hang on, but it was useless.

When we all stopped to regroup again, I noticed that my hamstrings and my right quad had started to cramp a little. I tried to ignore it at first, and then I started punching my leg in a desperate attempt to alleviate the pressure. We started back up again, and it only got worse. On one of the climbs, my legs just quit. I nearly fell over onto the trail, and the DPC almost ran over me. I stopped and stretched for a bit and had a gel shot. I felt better, but I knew it was a matter of time before it happened again.

I finally caught up to the group (they stopped to wait), and I told them about my malfunctioning legs. I told them to go on, and that I would cut out some of the loops as necessary to make sure I made it out alive. Patrick was down for more punishment, so he took off after the MadSS. The DPC stayed back with me, agreeing with my much slower pace. I would finish the ride without anymore cramps, but I knew I was nearly spent. I needed this kind of punishment to get me up to speed, so I didn’t really mind the pain. The problem was that I neglected my nutritional needs, and my body was protesting. Another lesson learned I guess.

When we got back to the parking lot, everyone was waiting. The DPC and I had taken a “short cut”, and it turned out to be muddy hell (one of the few spots.) I even took a soil sample with my bike.

Little Miss Sunshine was waiting for us, dressed and ready to go. She wanted to ride the new Green Loop, so I made sure to eat before we left. I had to have enough energy to do a few more miles with her, since she was kind enough to meet us out there.

Patrick had to hit the road, and the nearly-insane MadSS decided to hit another full lap. I think the DPC was nearly as spent as I was, so he opted to hang with Litle Miss Sunshine and me for some Green fun. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Can we go already?

The Green loop was fun, and my cramps were gone. Sure, my legs were tired, but I enjoyed our fun ride. Little Miss Sunshine displayed some excellent bike handling skills, and I could hear her laughing most of the way. Since this was a slower pace than our previous “death march”, I was able to whip out the camera.

When we finished, the DPC and I were nearly dead, but LMS was rip-roarin’ and ready to go. She would have done another lap if we were down for it. By the time we got back to the parking lot again, the MadSS was waiting after his lap (I don’t think he’s human.) We all decided to head to the restaurant to partake in some food and beverage. It was well-earned, and I stuffed myself. Next time I’ll eat before I ride.

What a day. I'm still a little sore from it, but it's a good kind of sore. Maybe I'll take the road bike out today for a little punishment. See you tomorrow.

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