Saturday, September 25, 2010

Georgia State Singlespeed Race/Ride

My posts have been few and far between lately as I haven't been doing much...I got much sicker after my 8 hours of TNGA and spent the next week trying to shake whatever bug I had. The next week was just some easy runs and rides as I was still not feeling great, but was tired of sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I actually was feeling so sorry for myself, that I had to read "Touching the Void" again, so that I might be able to pull myself out of the pity pot. Of course it worked - reading about how much pain and suffering Joe Simpson went through to stay alive made my fatigue, fever, and rotten sore throat seem pretty damn insignificant.

So by Wednesday I figured I was ready for a CX practice, which I smartly went to after doing a 5 mile run and boy did I feel it in my legs. It was the first time that I had touched my CX bike since last season, and I was pretty much a mess on the practice course. I didn't know what the hell to do with all the gears I had, forgot that I had nifty top mount brake levers, was quickly reminded that I was NOT riding a 29er MTB when I nearly ate shit in almost every loose corner, and best of all my legs had zero interest in generating the instantaneous power required for quick accelerations. Lots of work to do before the first CX race, which I have the Frogtown 10 mile trail run right before, so I may have to sit the first race out if I'm completely destroyed from the run.

So that leads us to today...a little ride/race put together to replace the Georgia State Singlespeed Championships that didn't happen this year. Since this was a no entry fee - no restrictions type of event, out of staters could compete for the title (which wasn't official, but who cares right?) With that Ursula and Carey showed up representing AL and TN respectively. I thought I had made a wise gear selection with a 32-21, but soon learned that both Carey and Ursula were running 22's. Damn...they always one-up me! I knew there was a good bit of steep climbing and knowing that those two already mountain goat climbers would have it just a little bit easier was unnerving.

We started on the road in front of Mulberry Gap, heading towards Shakerag Rd and Gates Chapel towards the road that leads to the lower Bear Creek parking area. I felt ok on the initial climb but got stuck behind a fixed gear rider on the descent, was too afraid to cross the deep gravel in the middle of the road at high speed, and had to hit my brakes and watch 4-5 people come whizzing by. Grrr... Once I hit Shakerag, my legs were already revolting from all the fast spinning. Ursula passed me, Bruce passed me...things were not looking good. I kept my heartrate in check and just rode my own speed which kept Ursula and Bruce within sight.

Once we hit the Bear Creek singletrack, I cleaned the creek crossing, passed Ursula and Bruce, then promptly chose a bad line around the first switchback and had to get off my bike. I ran a bit, right next to Ursula then jumped on my bike and powered through the next steep bit. It was pretty miserable and hard, but it got me a gap so it was energy well spent. It seemed like that hard effort blew all the crap out of my legs because I seemed to feel a good bit better after that. I continued to climb, never seeing anyone in front of or behind me, so that was kind of comforting. I hit the Bear Creek descent which was bone dry and lighting fast. Somewhere along the way my clif bloks and fruit roll up flew out of my moutain feed bag, so that kind of sucked.

Pinhoti 1 was tough, but I knew I usually ride it with a 19, so I told myself that I had it easy today. The miles went by pretty fast and soon enough I was at Pinhoti 2..still no one in sight in front or behind me. Right after I hit the downhill singletrack on P2, I heard a "ping" noise and my front break lever went completely limp. Not loosing pressure limp..the pin had fallen out of the lever and it was now completely useless limp. Always some sort of adversity...I looked at Jayden's picture on my bike and laughed. I figured I lived through Fools Gold and I still had one completely functional brake and the trails were dry today, so no worries. I was riding conservatively but I guess picked up a bit too much speed on one of the steeper downhill straightaways that has a turn at the bottom. As I hit my rear brake, the back wheel started skidding like crazy on the pinestraw. I had two options at that point..1 - continue my skid trajectory and hit very large tree on outside of turn or 2 - continue straight, run off trail into woods and take chances. I chose option 2 which wasn't too bad until I had to hop a small log about 6 inches off the ground, at relatively high speed. Somehow I escaped unscathed and got myself back on the trail. Ok, ride MORE conservatively!

I made it down to the road, pushed my bike up the wall and had to basically tip-toe my way down the next steep, downhill section. Thankfully there were flatter sections between the steeper pitches where I could scrub speed without skidding. The worst was a steep gravel path right near the Finish line. I started down at nearly no speed, but was slightly out of control by the bottom...thankfully there was nothing except pavement down there to run it out on...well, that and a lot of witnesses that would probably heckle me if I crashed in such a stupid place.

Just a bit more and I was back around at the finish. I managed to hold onto second, but Ursula was not far behind. Carey took the crown as expected, and was awarded a homemade chainring-bling necklace. My race wasn't stellar, but it definitely got better as the going got tougher and my legs got warmed up. I'm sure it was a shock to my system to do any extended intensity since I've been having to take it pretty easy this month.

Tomorrow is an Orienteering race on foot, and next weekend the Frogtown 10 mile trail race. I think I'm actually in better running shape at the moment, so hopefully Frogtown will go well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

TNGA Sections 1 and 2

So rewind to about a week and a half ago... I arrive at my daughters school to drop her off and there is a big sign on the door of her classroom. "We have a confirmed case of strep throat in this room". Ugh...Seriously??? Another case of strep throat? One of the toughest parts for me of being a new parent is the constant onslaught of bacteria and viruses that Jayden is exposed to. Not only does she get sick, but it is nearly impossible to prevent the spread of germs to mom and dad.

So the Sunday a week before the race Chris says he is feeling like he's getting sick and Jayden gets a fever and is lying on the floor wailing away, miserable, and me feeling completely helpless. We give J some tylenol, which helps tremendously, and she goes to bed to sleep off her illness. Monday morning she doesn't have a fever, and she seems perky so I take her to school. I had a super busy week at work, so staying home with her would have been tough to do. When I arrive, her teacher sounds like hell and could barely speak. Fantastic.

Monday night Chris suggests we should make he passes me his germs, and I fight them off by the weekend. I should have taken him up on the offer but instead I said to stay away.

Jayden continues to have mild cold symptoms all week but I'm still good till Thursday night. I wake up Friday morning with a sore throat and slight fever...NOOOOOO!!! I had already bought all my food and gear for TNGA, taken Friday off to pack, so I got everything ready and figured I had to at least TRY to give it a go. Chris was only sick for a day, so I thought if I rested well on Friday I might have a chance of riding through it.

I felt pretty good Saturday morning so I was optimistic. We arrived at the SC border and rolled out about 8:30 am. The first four hours were pretty good. I felt ok riding at just a moderate pace. I lost about a half an hour on the way to Dillard as I didn't have a bike computer (thought my map and cue sheet would be enough) but I made a wrong turn that cost me a lot of extra elevation gain. Since I didn't have a computer, I thought a minor intersection was one I had to turn at, and ended up going down a big hill just to have to come right back up. Grrr... I wished I had gotten a chance to preride this section, as then I wouldn't have wasted that time and energy. The riding itself was pretty difficult and not terribly fun...lots of steep climbing and the descents were challenging in deep, loose gravel.

I hit 441 and waved to my boss who just happened to be up there camping for the weekend. How cool is that? To have a boss that would sit in the car for 3 hours just to watch me ride by as say "whoo hooo!". She's a keeper..

Anyways, after Dillard there was some pavement and a big climb up to Patterson Gap. That road was pretty crappy...big loose gravel, steep climbs, and a bunch of hunters with dogs doing some sort of organized hunt. Lots of traffic. When I hit FS32C, it got even worse...big RR track size gravel that was freshly dumped and hills that were straight up. I won't lie, I pushed the bike some here. I was starting to feel "feverish" and I noticed that I had a slight wheeze going on. By the time I hit 76, I was not feeling too good. My legs were fine but the fever felt like it was getting worse and I had started having to cough every so often. I was at about 8 hours in and already deteriorating. I had estimated 56 hours finishing time, so given my current state, the likelyhood of finishing was pretty low and I would only run my body down more if I kept going. I had raced for 24 hours in January with similar symptoms and ended up with pneumonia, which wiped me out for two weeks, and I didn't want a repeat of that.

I decided I would call Chris from Mocassin Creek State Park and have him pick me up there, since he was waiting in Helen. It was definitely the right decision, but watching the race now from the sidelines, I can't help but wish just a little bit that I was still out there. My strength lies in knowing that I have completed 2-3 day races before with little to no sleep and I already know how to fuel for those types of events. I'm already thinking about next year, wondering if the timing will be better.

Now it appears to be a three-man race, which is exactly what I expected. It also looks like none of those guys will finish in my expected 56 hour finish time, so I may have been out there longer..or maybe not...who knows...

Chris said I could always do the race again on my own, as an ITT, when I'm 100% healthy, but then I don't know if I have the drive to do such a long and painful endeavor if I don't get some sort of bragging rights. That makes me sound terrible, but knowing that people are watching is a huge motivator for me. Next year perhaps? At least now I've pre-ridden the first section!