Sunday, June 14, 2009

4 Hours of Cannonsburg

I couldn't believe it when I woke up yesterday and it was raining again. Seriously, it has been rainy and wet at every race I've done this year (except the winter ones, of course). I was not really in the mood to ride for eight hours in the rain, but there was no way I wasn't going.

Since I went off my winter training schedule, my riding has been more sporadic than I would like it to be. I definitely wasn't prepared for this race like I should have been. As the pack pulled away from me at the starting line, I struggled to keep my legs, which felt like lead, turning. The first hill, which is really more like a gentle slope, felt worse than anything I had ridden at Yankee or Poto. My goal of doing 10 laps began to look like a serious pipe dream.

At the top of the hill I decided to pull over and regroup. I know I'm not in great riding shape, but I am in good riding shape. I also knew that because there were only three women riding solo, I was guaranteed a podium spot as long as I could complete a lap. I decided what I always end up deciding in races, that I will do the best I can, not worry about where everyone else is and just try to have a good race. Then I put Sugarland on my MP3 player for company and started riding again.

My first lap was painfully slow. I was at least a half an hour into it before I really started to feel warmed up. I'm beginning to question the whole idea that you don't need to warm up if you're doing a race that's more than an hour long. It makes sense, but I think I'm just one of those people who takes a really long time to get warmed up and it may not be a good plan for me.

The first lap ended up taking me 54 minutes to complete. I could probably have walked it in that amount of time. I did end up walking three uphills, as well as walking around a log pile that seemed really high. I promised myself I would ride it on at least one of the laps. At this point, I also had a serious case of the curse of the Camelbak, which is a syndrome I get when riding with my Camelbak during a race causes my shoulders to hurt.

I stopped long enough at the pit area to take off my jacket, get rid of my Camelbak and wish I had two water bottle cages on my bike. For now I would have to alternate a bottle of water with a bottle of Heed every lap. (I was drinking the Heed that tastes like bubble gum and thinking I knew the flavor wasn't really bubble gum. When I got home and looked at the container, it said "Mandarin Orange." WTF?)

My second lap was much faster. I felt better overall and I was beginning to really like the course. The most fun thing about the whole course, in my opinion, is that near the end there are all these berms. I've always been scared of berms, but as I gained confidence I was flying through them. There are four of them right in a row and I was having a blast.

I only walked one hill, which I didn't I'd ever be able to ride, although I did see one person doing it. The only thing that was mildly demoralizing was when I got lapped near the end. But when I emerged from the woods, I found some blue sky had emerged too, and the weather would continue to get better as the day wore on.

I stopped for 10 minutes at the pit to eat something and fill up my water bottle before starting the third lap. Suddenly, I felt out of power again, but I plugged up the hill and it got better. Unfortunately, about half way through I got a stitch in my side that didn't want to go away. I stopped for a minute or two, drank some water and started riding again, more slowly. Eventually, I started ramping up my speed again and I was back to full on by the time I hit the berm playground. The stitch was still there, though, and I decided to take another 10 minutes in the pit.

The fourth lap started out okay, but it was to be my undoing. There was a small log pile which dropped off a bit on a downhill. It's exactly the sort of thing I normally avoid. (Ask Anne about my aversion to going over downhill log piles, which she had to beat out of me one day at Burchfield.) However, the first time I saw it, it was too late to avoid it, so I just went over it slowly and it was fine. I rode over it every other time without worry.

On the fourth lap I don't know what went wrong, other than the fact that I was going much faster when I hit it. The next thing I knew I was in the air doing a spectacular endo. My shoes came unclipped and one of them actually flew off my foot and I had to go looking for it.

I got up, dusted myself off and rode a bit cautiously for a while. Then, just when I started getting my confidence back, I crashed again. This time, similarly, I don't know what happened. I wasn't going that fast, and hurt a lot more than it seemed like it should have. Before I finished the lap, my bike started acting up when I was shifting and I dropped my chain 5 times.

I sat around in the sun in my pit area for more than a half an hour, trying to get myself motivated to go back out there, but I just couldn't do it. I felt like I had been steamrolled (and I felt even worse when I woke up this morning). As I drove back home, I felt really crappy about quitting. I know it doesn't really count as a DNF, but it sure feels like it. On the bright side, at least I shouldn't have any trouble beating this performance next year.

Next up: Regrouping


Anonymous said...

I really,really think you need a helmet cam. We could make a fortune.

SpeedyChix said...

Way to keep at it!