It was definitely an experience and I learned lots of stuff about endurance racing today.
On the first lap, everything was going well. I started out with a "controlled" pace that I thought I could keep up for the entire 6 hours which was the bulk of the advice I had gotten about solo races. It was all going according to plan. But, now as I am riding along, I hear the sound of a rider behind me. He/She is not asking to pass, not saying anything, just present behind me. I keep hearing that telltale buzzing of a single speed's free hub coasting. So I figure, I am going too slow, and not being one to inconvenience anyone, I pick up my own pace. A lot. So now I am hauling through the trail much faster than I wanted to and my brain is telling me that this is a big mistake. Too fast. Must slow down. But, the other part of my brain was really enjoying the adrenaline rush of the fast speed so I ignored the sensible part and continued pedaling. I kept this up until I got to a clearing of gravel which took me into the next trail section. I was not ready for the gravel and I hit it full force. As I did, my bike fork and front wheel compressed too deep into it and the bike slid out sideways nearly taking me down. Luckily I was able to recover without crashing. The two guys who were breathing down my neck slowed down to see if I was okay and also express their disappointment that their "pacer bike" had a mis-step. I yelled out: "Thanks, I am okay, GO, GO, GO!!!!". This was partly because I didn't want to slow them down for their lap, but mostly because I just wanted to slow my own pace back down and they were making that impossible. Hopefully they just rode off thinking that I was only looking out for them and weren't offended that I didn't keep riding with their little pack.
|"You made the cutoff..."|
So when I finished the first lap and passed the pit area, my husband wasn't at the tent. He had actually just gone to take pictures of all the racers and hadn't gotten back yet. I decided to do another lap and replace my water bottle on the following lap since I barely touched this water anyway. As I am midway through my 2nd lap, I start noticing that the rear of my shoe keeps hitting my front chain ring. I have never had *that* happen before, but I figure it's just a fluke. As I continue to ride, it keeps happening. It finally dawns on me that perhaps my cleat is loose. I turn my right foot to the outside and it turns 90 degrees, but does not release. I try a couple more times and realize that the cleat is now turning inside the pedal and I can't get my foot out. Panic is setting in because I am going pretty fast. So I slowly bring the bike to a stop, pull off the trail and try yanking my shoe out from the pedal. Finally, it releases and when I raise my foot, I see that one of the cleat screws is practically falling out and hanging by a thread and the cleat is all askew. I quickly grab the screw, and pull a tool from my pack to re-tighten it. Of course the screw that came out is filled with dried mud so I have to find a small twig to start digging out the dirt before I can even use the allen key on it. Fortunately, in the woods, there are plenty of small twigs so I quickly found something suitable and got to work. I got my cleat sorted out and continued on to finish my lap. I made quick stop at my cooler to grab a clean water because my first bottle was now covered with dirt dust from the dry course conditions we're riding. Lap 3 was uneventful and went off without any issues.. However, a fellow racer guy did pass me on the trail on this lap and for some reason he decided to douse himself in so much cologne that I could smell him for like 1/4 mile after he passed me. It was an out of place smell for the woods, and would probably be better suited for a night club. Honestly though, it was sort of a nice fragrance so secretly I was happy that I got to ride through it for a ways. Perhaps this is the "AXE" effect that those TV ads keep making claims about .
I think that Coke did me well because I felt much stronger on lap 5. But by this time, the 3 hour racers came on the scene to begin their laps. New racers with fresh legs flying by me like I was standing still. Most...... demoralizing..... part..... of the race. There were times where I just wanted to yell out, "see my number plate is yellow not blue like yours. That means I have been racing for 3 hours already and YOU JUST GOT HERE HOTSHOT!!" But, I didn't. Fortunately, that tough guy alter ego stays inside my head and rarely gets to do any public speaking. Probably a good thing I would guess.
I also began to feel like I was getting lapped way more than I ought to be. And finally, my dumb blonde moment fog cleared and I realized why that was. While I was getting passed by the same jersey multiple times, it was actually a team and there was a gaggle of them. So it turns out it wasn't the same racer, just the same outfit that kept going by me. I guess in my multi-lap delirium, I could not deduce that little bit of logic. But, at least now I know for next time. Check.
|My inspirational message to keep going|
I stomped on the pedals and headed out for one more lap. I also picked up my pace because a) I knew this really was my last lap and b) I didn't know how long I actually had to finish this lap and still have it count.
|My 6 hour Award!!!! (No, that's not real gold)|
I ended up with 9 laps and a total of 54 miles. Most I'd ever done and I felt extremely stoked that I was able to complete the whole 6 + hours. Plus, I came in first in my division and I earned an award. Bonus!
Oh and that psyche out girl...she placed 1st with 11 laps and a total of 66 miles. Sixty Six!!! I am pretty sure she was actually an alien, but I guess I will never know. Can't wait for next year.