Sunday, May 25, 2008

WVMBA #5 - White Oak

The Perfect Storm
A Dummies Guide to a DNF

The White Oak race was the culmination of every little thing that could go wrong. Any one of the events, when taken separately, was a minor inconvenience. Together, they created the perfect storm of misery.

Let me list my many mistakes:
not quite over my chest congestion
rode the day before the race - was an easy ride but my recovery time is not good
stayed up late to watch the Pens lose
ate a bunch of junk food rather than the normal routine
not enough water in the days leading up to the race

So then Dave and I arrive at the at White Oak. We hook up with Don and Aarron and a couple of other guys. Pre-rode the course a bit (another mistakes as my legs already didn't have any power and any preride was a bad thing).

The race started up a long, steep hill. I just kept a steady pace, knowing a fast pace would blow my legs out. The first lap (approx. 8 miles ) went pretty well. Not quite as fast as I'd like, but I felt okay. Made it up all of the hills, passed quite a few people.

Finished the first lap, and realized that this was going to be a loooong 17 miles and that I was a bit short on liquids. Second lap began with a huge hike a bike. This was the beginning of the end for me. Legs started shutting down. Ride down this hill was rocky but fun, that is until a root directed me into a tree. Ouch. And felt really bad for the guy behind me that had to ride off into the woods to keep from running over me.

Got more into the second lap when it hit. I had to ride up an incline that on the first lap was no problem. All of a sudden I had no energy in my legs. I had to get off and push. Usually I mentally give up on a hill before I physically have to. But this time my legs were done. People started passing me, even the tandem.

Cross the road and head back some long trails. Started getting light headed. Not good. Pushed for what seemed like miles, tried to ride when I could. Oh, and it was hot!

Cross back over the road and head toward the finish line. All I wanted to do was finish the race, even if it took me three hours. The experts were starting to pass me, asking me how I was doing as I guess I looked horrible.

Then when an expert gave me the double take, stopped, and asked if I was sure I was okay, this is when I started to think about things a little more seriously. At this point I was light headed, no legs, nauseous, thirsty, and hungry. Was I sweating? Not really sure. I was going slowly, so maybe I shouldn't have been sweating.

Or was I in the first (or later) stages of heat exhaustion? I felt mentally not too bad, or was I losing it a bit? Yes, it's embarrassing to not finish a race, but more embarrassing to collapse, go into convulsions and be taken out by ambulance. So I did the smart thing (though I hated to do it) I returned to the road and road back to the parking lot.

I was wiped out. Had Dave drive us home. In about an hour I started feeling better. Another hour later I finally had an appetite.

Learned some really hard lessons, but ones that I will never forget. Which may be good timing as I have the Big Bear 24 hour race upcoming in two weeks. Note to self: avoid the perfect storm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

WVMBA #4 - Henry Clay

Henry Clay - 2:16 - 6th place master's sport - 17 miles

Mud, rain, lightning, more rain, and oh yeah, mud. That pretty much summarizes what I remember about this race held at Cooper's Rock, WV. Dave and I rode and got registered. While getting ready it started to rain and was windy enough to actually be somewhat cold. By the time we lined up for the start, the sun decided to poke its head out - mostly just to tease us.

The race started on the paved road, but much lower than the previous year. I did better than normal on the road this time, but still entered the singletrack more than half way back in the pack. The dos niner ate up the rocky decent down into the valley. Started riding up out of the valley, but was pretty sure I was off route as I was trying to ride up a creek. No, I was on the trail though it was better suited as a creek.

The riding was pretty much a blur, lots of loose rocky uphills, fun downhills that never seemed long enough. As is my usual routine, I passed a lot of people once into the groove of the race but I think I only passed two riders in my category.

About halfway into the race, the rain came down in earnest. My brake pads were wearing quickly with all the mud on the course, and the trail was only getting worse. And then the lightning came. Luckily it wasn't directly over us, there was a delay between the lightning and the thunder, but it was way too close anyway.

Going down a hill, I tried to make a sharp left in the mud and rocks, but my bike decided to go visit some trees and shrubs instead. My brakes were really worn down. I quickly adjusted the mechanical Avid brakes and was off.

A number of experts passed me, all being very encouraging as they went by. That's what I really like about mountain bike racing, everyone is pretty courteous. They thank me for letting them pass, other riders quickly pull out of my way when it's my rare turn to pass.

I was under the impression that the race would end of that last really steep uphill, but either they changed their mind due to the weather, or I wasn't listening closely (probably the latter) but the finish was on top of the hill by the parking lot. The only thing worse than doing that last hill is when you think the whole race that you won't have to.

Anyway, my overall time was way worse than last year. But then again it was a dry course last year, and this year, did I mention it was muddy? I'm currently in second place in the overall point standings. This is quite humorous to me. My finishes don't warrant a second place standing, but I think there is only a handful of us that have done more than one race in the series so far. Of course I leave that little detail out when they people at work ask me how I did in my "bike race."

Oh yeah, had a chest cold all week. Probably shouldn't have raced, but I don't really listen to that little voice in my head that tries to reason with me. I am completely exhausted today and I took a big step back in recovering, but in the end I'm glad I went. And a big congrats to all the Pittsburgh racers. Dave, Aaron, Don, and Jason all had great races. Now if only I could ride as fast as those guys...