Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And Then There Was One

One lap to go. With a fresh Clean Bottle provided by the Dirty Party Cycle just before I headed out for lap two, I was ready. The problem was, my body wasn’t ready. After doing way too much of a warm up and being dehydrated, I was hurting pretty bad. Also, since Mr. Flat Tire was determined not to DNF, I figured that he would fix his bicycle ailment and come after me. I pushed down the gravel road back to the singletrack, and wished for the best. Like my Grandma used to say though, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster.” I was destined to be in a world of shit, it seemed.

Once I hit the singletrack, I flew down the trail. I was going pretty fast, and I used the downhill stuff to try to recover. My stand up and climb legs were gone, so I struggled to get up every small hill. I had no choice but to suffer through it, but I was starting to wonder if I could make it to the end. This is the first race I where I wondered if I could even finish, let alone stay out of last place. I kept the thought of Mr. Flat Tire in my head, and tried to use that to get me through the last painful lap.

I wasn’t doing too bad, but there was another problem. After finishing one lap and being well into the second, I noticed that I was getting really close to the seventeen mile mark on my computer (yes, I reset it after my warm up.) When the display said fifteen miles, I knew for sure that there was more than two miles to go. I was on my third pass through this section of trail (thanks to my warm up lap), so I knew there was plenty left. I tried to remember what was left, but I was drawing a blank. I was just riding as fast as I could at that point, and tried to forget that my legs weren’t cooperating. I was already halfway through my water bottle, so I had to finish one way or the other.

The highlight of that section was a trail creature I encountered. As I was winding through the singletrack, I saw a good sized king snake on the trail. I stopped for a second to move him off the trail, but he didn’t wait around for my help. It’s times like those that I wished I carried a camera while I rode. I got back to pedalling and moved on down the trail, leaving my new snake pal behind.

Out of nowhere, I reached the point where the trail splits off for the second lap (which avoided the “technical” section.) I knew there couldn’t be much left, so I hauled ass down the trail and gave it everything I had. After one small climb, I was back on a doubletrack downhill. It didn’t last long, and I was back in the woods. I knew this was the final leg, and I didn’t see anyone behind me. Was Mr. Flat Tire gaining on me? Would he appear out of nowhere and pass me? I didn’t give a shit at that point, since I was in survival mode. It was good motivation though, and it was probably the only thing that kept me going.

Speaking of motivation, local Charlotte rider Rodney B. was waiting in the woods near the spot where Lunchbox saw me on lap one. He shouted out some words of encouragement that really helped, but I’m not sure if I acknowledged him. I meant to, but the words just didn’t come out. He was kind enough to get a photo of me though.

Honestly, I can’t remember what he said, but it still kept me going. With the finish line near, I gave it whatever I had left. I must not have been going that fast though, because he managed to get a photo of me as I rode away.

Big thanks for the photos, and the cheering.

I crossed one small section of gravel road, and then it was a tiny bit more singletrack. I was still all alone, and the finish line was in sight. I mashed across the grass to cross the finish line, and I heard some people cheering for me. I was in such a haze though, that I don’t think I even looked their way. When it was all said and done, I finished in 5th place. I have to say that it was the hardest 5th place finish I’ve ever had. Hell, I won a race two years ago that wasn’t this difficult. I rode around for a bit before I got off my bike, because I was sure that my legs would seize up and take me down to the ground if I stopped.

After resting a bit, I saw Mr. Flat Tire come in. If I would’ve stopped to walk anything or had another mechanical, I’m pretty sure that he would’ve caught up to me. He swapped out his front wheel and managed to finish the race. I guess I should quit bitching about how hard my race was, huh?

I actually did have fun, but it was tough. My decision to go with only one water bottle should have cost me, but the DPC saved my ass. Also, piss poor planning on my warm up lap left me spent, with way too little energy to race. It was hot as shit out there too, but I’ll get used to that eventually. Even though I got there extra early before my race started, I didn’t prepare properly. Maybe it’s better when I show up at the last minute and hop on my bike to race. That’s my style anyway. Damn all this planning stuff. It just causes problems.

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