Last year the Dusters spent 5 weeks cooped up in a tiny van in Europe. On a day off in southern Germany we stayed at a super hip, tiki-themed hotel that had a fleet of mountain bikes. I'd been riding an old bike, a bike from high school, really (my racing bike had been stolen during a party in college) and the fire had been dying. The thrill was gone. With nothing better to do I set out on a ride and quickly lost myself in the hills.
Germany knows what is what and their network of paved trails is unparalleled and after 3 hours I limped back to the hotel exhausted but with a new resolve to get back on the bike.
As soon as I arrived home I started shopping and found my Bianchi on ebay in California for $1100. By mid June I was riding as much as possible and in August I wandered onto the TBRA website and signed up for the Stanky Creek XC and TT.
The race weekend was the start of a two week solo mountain bike pilgrimage and it started out with a bang. I placed 5th overall in the TT and won the XC (I must be honest here, there were only 4 single speed riders) and the hook was set. Cyclocross season followed with moderate success toward the end of the season and two XC victories this summer had me pretty confident that I would repeat the feat at this years Stanky Creek. Not so.
4am, crawl out of bed, meet Nate at Waffle House, watch Nate eat Waffle, drive 3+ hours at 80-85mph, pass the competition (on the highway, this was the only time I would pass Adam all day) arrive an hour before start time, warm-up, pre-ride, forget excedrin, GO!! There were more people in the race this year, 11, maybe 15. I don't really know. I took the whole-shot. I always do, I don't know any better and I get anxious following on single track. I felt really good, at least pretty good considering (4 hours sleep, 3 days on bike in last month, mild heatstroke and soreness from kickball the day before, etc...). First half of the first lap I was really hammering. Second half involved about a mile and a half of fresh singletrack and that's where it started to unravel. My preparation caught up with me. Stomach was upset so I didn't eat, and I started to soft pedal to ease up on my legs. Just after the start of the second lap second place came around me. I went slower. Adam caught me right before the water station and soon after that I started getting chills (in 85 degree heat?) leg cramps and mild hallucinations. I stopped. It felt good. I stood on the side of the trail and ate stuff and chilled out for like 10 minutes. Watched 4 riders ride by, they said I had an unsettling smile on my face. I must have been hallucinating still. I was thinking of quiting. Got back on, kept riding, cramping got much much worse. I didn't know I even had that many different muscles in my legs. At one point, nearing the finish, I stood up on a little rise and first my left, then right legs completely locked out from the cramping and I nearly fell off the bike. I don't know what my split times were, but I bet my second lap was 15 or 20 minutes longer than my first.
Live and learn. Preparation has always been the cornerstone for me. Should have stayed in bed.
On a more musical note, the band played the Opry this weekend. Vince Gill was on. That guy's really amazing. Cyclocross season is coming and this race was a serious wake-up call.
Run on sentences are cool.