Lap three of the Tree Shaker
and I was still feeling pretty good. I knew I couldn’t keep up a breakneck pace
with my heart rate through the roof, but I was determined to keep going. I didn’t want to back way off to let Big Crom
and Good Guy Greg catch me, but I started feeling like it would happen
anyway. I made a conscious effort to
keep my heart rate around 85% when I could, and use the flat stuff to
recover. It worked, until I got a big
After a couple of miles, Big Crom was suddenly right behind
BC: “Man, I had to
work hard to catch you!” Even though he wasn’t even breathing hard.
Me: “I had to work
hard to keep you away.” As I tried not
to let him hear me breathing hard.
We rode together for a while shooting the shit, and I was
unknowingly revving up my pace to try to wear him out. I realized that I wouldn’t make it past three
laps if I kept it up though, so I told him to go on while I backed off a
bit. He passed me, and I resisted the
urge to chase. Then I knew it would only
be a matter of time until Good Guy Greg did the same thing to me.
I was hurting, mostly from my lower back tightening up (and
the crash earlier.) My legs were okay,
except for a couple of small cramps when I stood on steep climbs. In spite of the pain, I tried to keep a good
pace until I got to the pit area. I was
so happy to see the gravel road again.
And I heard that my boy was hanging in there too.
I hopped off my bike at my tent and immediately grabbed a
couple of ibuprofen capsules to help with the back pain. I ate a little bit, drank some, refilled my
water bottles, and headed back out for lap four. I was hurting, but I didn’t want to make the
mistake of staying in the pit too long.
That’s bitten me in the ass before, and I wanted to make sure I kept
moving so my legs wouldn’t start with the full on cramps.
I bombed the downhill stuff, and on the first climb I
started to get a little relief from the pain.
I was moving a little slower, but it was still a pretty good pace. I made sure to keep drinking fluids when I
could, but that was pretty difficult.
Riding with one hand on roots with a rigid fork is a recipe for
disaster. I ran off the trail a couple
of times because of it.
Lap four was over before I knew it, mostly because I was in
a daze. I returned to the pit area and
refilled bottles, rolling out again without hardly even stopping. I had completed four laps in four hours,
which was a much better pace (so far) than last year. And I found out later that Lunchbox completed
three laps (a personal best for him) in a little over four hours. That was good enough to get him 16th
out of 21 riders, all of whom were far superior riders (and adults.)
I was proud, but I still had half of a race to go. I was on autopilot at this point, and I
really don’t remember much of the details.
I watched as the miles ticked away, and I found myself looking forward
to the couple of fast, downhill spots so I could enjoy myself. I was suffering a little bit, but at least I
was moving. Besides, I knew Good Guy
Greg was still trying to catch me.
Once again I rolled through the pit area without stopping.
Lap six was weird. I
was cramping a little bit, but my heart rate was finally under control. Every once in a while though, I would look
down at the display and it would read “0.”
“Oh shit”, I thought, “Am I dead?”
No, but I knew it wouldn’t be long.
In an effort to give myself a little boost, I drank a bottle
of iced coffee. When I saw that it had
200 calories, I decided to drink one more.
I didn’t realize that it contained milk (I wasn’t thinking clearly at
this point), and that shit was sloshing around in my stomach like the ocean in a hurricane. The caffeine helped a little, but
I was starting to feel sick. About
halfway through the lap I was spacing out, and I got really cold.
My first though was, “My body is shutting down.” I didn’t want that to happen, and I sure as
hell wasn’t gonna quit. I really wanted
to get off of my bike, sit down on the side of the trail, and take a nap. At that point I didn’t give a shit where I
was, and I especially didn’t care if I finished the race. I even contemplated jumping in the creek a
couple of times.
Somehow, I kept going.
I made it back to the pit, grabbed some food, refilled my
bottles, and grabbed a Pepsi to stuff in my jersey pocket (I should’ve grabbed
a beer.) I took off again, and felt much
better. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have
time to do another lap after that one so I at least tried to enjoy it. The singletrack was fun, and the climbing
wasn’t so bad anymore. I think I had
passed the point of exhaustion but my mind still wanted to keep going. I was having fun I guess, even though I had
no idea why.
I walked only two climbs, and actually did it in a
hurry. I resisted the urge to stop even
when I dismounted, knowing that all I had to do was keep moving. Nearly at the eighth hour, I rolled up on the
gravel road and headed to the finish line.
I was happy to be there too, even though I had no idea how I did
it. I ended up with one more lap than I
did last year, and I did it faster too.
If it matters, I was in fifth place, although that wasn’t too
important. I gave that race everything I
had, and for once I didn’t feel like I didn’t work hard enough.
It’s the little victories, you know?
And I was really proud of my son too.
It was a good day to suffer.