Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There's a First Time for Everything

My bike was ready, or so I thought ...

Maybe it was when I was struggling up that first hill thinking "I was sure my cross bike had a triple" that I realized the race wasn't just going to be a disaster—it was going to be a monumental train wreck.

Everything started out okay. I didn't do as much preparation as I intended to, and I certainly wasn't in shape, but at least I got my bike into the shop ahead of time to have it checked over and have the brake pads replaced. I may not have been ready, but at least my bike was. Or so I thought ...

I planned to take the bike out for a spin after picking it up from the shop to make sure everything felt okay, but I never quite got around to it. That was my first mistake.

The line for the port-a-potties was out of control.

My second was how I dressed. I was freezing before the race, and I started with two pairs of gloves, a balaclava, base layer with short-sleeved jersey, tights, bike shorts and a warmish jacket. I can never really get it through my head that if I am warm enough at the start line I will probably be far too warm during the race. Intellectually, I know it's true, but it's hard to make myself follow those rules when my fingers feel like they're about to fall off.

Luckily, Jack saved the day by offering to take some of my extra clothes back to the finish line and drop them off for me. I don't think that was cheating.

It didn't take long for me to realize that my front brake was rubbing horribly. I was already out of the shape and the brake issue clearly wasn't helping. Everyone was passing me.

Soon I was all by myself in that place where I am so used to being, and my battle with myself began. I thought about grabbing a ride in one of the numerous SAG vehicles that passed me. I had myself nearly convinced to just do the beginner loop of 23 miles instead of the longer Sport loop.

I figured out the disposable timing tag thing out without too much trouble, not that I really needed it.

But if there's one thing I have going for me with racing, it's resolve. I finish. No matter how slow I am, no matter what obstacles I encounter, I just haven't been able to make myself give up. I thought about how I would feel, even if I finished, about only doing the beginner race. And I realized that yet again, barring any major mechanical or significant injury, I would remain on the sport/expert loop. And that's when everything went to hell.

As I would find out later, my brake was not only rubbing, it was rubbing on my tire. That eventually caused me to flat, and as luck would have it, I had also forgotten my seat bag with all my supplies for fixing a flat. After about 40 minutes of pushing my bike down the road I finally caught up with the SAG, but not before my run in with the law. You see, a guy from the local sheriff's department, presumably disgruntled from having to spend his Saturday directing traffic not to hit racers at the busier intersections along the course, took issue with me pushing my bike on the shoulder. That's right—he actually chastised me for pushing my bike down the side of the road. The conversation went something like this:

Fuzz (sporting surly, disapproving smirk): Do you need something?

Me (looking quizzical): Nope. I'm just trying to find the SAG. My bike's out of commission and I'm not going to be able to finish the race.

Fuzz (dismissively): Well, you're going to have to get out of sight. You're distracting the drivers.

Me (downright dumfounded): Really?

Lobster bisque saves the day!

But all was not lost, and thanks to some fun conversation from the witty volunteers who brought me back in the SAG, my spirits were quite a bit higher when I arrived at the finish line. Then, lo and behold, I ran into the way cool Ali B., who invited me to eat with her and some other folks at an interesting place called "The Bib." In addition to a strange mix of ceiling and bathroom art, there was good company and tasty food. The labels on the bathroom doors caused some momentary consternation, though. At one point, I was unsure about whether or not to enter the door marked "Gulls." It was all made clear when I spotted the other door, marked "Buoys."

Ali and Glen pondered a photo of some racy artwork from the men's (sorry, buoys) restroom.

By the way, for those of you who didn't realize it, this was my first DNF. Ever. But it was a brilliant recovery, all things considered.


Anonymous said...

Haven't heard the term FUZZ since back in my rookie days.DG

Ali B. said...

I love the term FUZZ! Excellent summary aka RACE REPORT! I actually enjoyed reading this one... maybe because I was a part of it??? ;) Great to see you & can't wait until the next time!

p.s. Are my eyes REALLY that squintish? hehe