Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The p36 (part 2)

So, at the end of stage 2 when I came down Cove Creek for the fourth time of the day I was feeling really good, all things considered. My legs still had some life left and I wasn't tired. I was burning through water and calories at an alarming rate and looking forward to stage 3.

I was thinking it was going to be Farlow in which case I was going to take my running shoes and just run out and back on the trail but when I got the passport it was Summey which meant I was in for another long gravel spin. It also became clear that once again this was a race of attrition. I had been thinking in stage 2 that most people would be getting back about the same time as me but as it turns out people were still leaving and very few were in and the causalities were already piling up. Cook had gone for a ride so I headed over to my pit area to start getting ready. It was 3:30 and I wanted to be rolling out no later than 4.

Zach and Dennis were both back from stage 2 and had wisely already quit the race and they quickly scrambled to help get me ready for Summey. I shouted out a quick half dozen needed repairs and adjustments to my bike to Zach and Dennis helped me get my food ready. Dennis asked me if I needed chamois cream and I said yes and went to find it but somehow got sidetracked and never returned to it. Within minutes Zach had switched out my cog, lubed my chain, adjusted my saddle and checked my brakes. The man is a master with a wrench and his help was greatly appreciated (thanks, Zach and Dennis! you guys were a huge help!). I needed to charge my ipod and Eric said he had a quick charger if I had an adapter which I thought I had so I ran to my truck to get it and then back to Eric to get it charged. It turned out I had the wrong adapter but a few people got a kick out of watching me run around like a fool. After running down a quick checklist Zach said, "If you have everything then you have to go." So I went.

Looking at the passport I couldn't decide whether just to get the mandatory or keep racing Brad and pick up a couple of more. On my way up 475 I felt really good and made Glouchester in good time as if I was fresh. I decided that in order to mentally stay in the race I needed to keep racing and keep picking up cp's so I made the right onto Pilot Mountain Rd. and started the long, hot walk to Farlow. The sun was hanging directly overhead and was absolutely brutal. I didn't ride a single inch of the road and wasn't about to try. I draped my jacket over my head to try and bring some relief from the sweltering heat and ate and drank and dreamed of swimming in Courthouse Falls once I made it over there.

Nothing lasts and I made my way to Farlow where I stopped and allowed myself to take my first break of the race and actually even sat down. The heat had killed me on the way up and it was much cooler at the gap and the bugs started eating me alive so after stuffing my face for a few minutes I rolled on down to Summey.


I had gone through three liters of water while climbing Pilot Mtn. Rd. so I stopped at one of the bridges on Summey to get some more water. Brad kee and Matt Fusco (who had suffered a broken derailleur hanger earlier in the race) were coming down the trail from the cp and stopped for water and to chat. Me and Brad talked about the early morning when we went our separate ways on 276 he said he had planned to go the same way as me but made a last minute change in plans. I asked if was going to ride all night and said yes, he might as well and that "Maybe we'd finish it early and have time to drink some beers." We then lamented the loss of the keg and how grateful we were that Eric and Errina put on these races so we can ride our bikes in the woods. We both had places to go so we bid each well and went our respective ways.

I had no intention of taking my bike up and down the Summey hill so I dropped it right away and then walked to the top and then ran down the other side to the cp. On the way back up I realized I was getting tired and started dragging. I put on my ipod and reminded myself to keep stuffing food into my mouth whenever I could. Charlie Roberts passed me coming the other way running down and said "this is ridiculous" and that when he saw my bike thought it was a good idea and then stashed his own. Shortly after another rider passed me and we exchanged a few words and then I bumped into Emily Brock. We talked for a few minutes and I expressed my concerns about doing a gravel grinder on a single speed in the middle of the night. She said she was feeling good and was going for it. It was a pleasant conversation and I was tempted to just sit on the side of the trail and wait for her to get the cp but knew that would be foolish so we both rode off into the setting sun.


I walked all of the climb on 140 and then on 5003 I started getting off to walk anytime I thought the road might start to climb. I didn't know what to do. I have no real experience with sleep deprivation and was hallucinating mildly and was very curious to know what the gravel grinder would be. I've done a lot of Eric's races and have gotten good at guessing what is next and was honestly guessing Bent Creek Gap or the North Mills River Campground, neither of which sounded like fun. No matter what it was I was going to be walking. I felt as if I was barely moving and couldn't figure out why Emily or the other rider hadn't caught up to me yet. I also had to decide if I wanted to get the Butter cp. Part of me thought the best thing to do would be to go down and get Kuykendall which would be a long way, then come back up and get Butter and get back to camp late but with 4 cps. That would send a message and perhaps give me the motivation to walk the rest of the night.

But when I hit the gap I just couldn't make the turn onto 471 and went down 475 instead. 475 was very sketchy and scary. It was a 30mph downhill and I was having a hard time seeing potholes and ruts and there were many close calls. A high speed gravel crash did not sound like fun but after walking so much I desperately wanted to make good time. Coming back into camp I wanted to walk up the road but sucked it up and actually road into camp minutes after 10.

Stage 3 was good for 22 miles and 7000' but only 2 cps.


I got the passport and took a look at it and all the wind went out of my sails. Walking all night to Bent Creek Gap just did not sound like fun. I could have done it but even if I did it would I still have enough time left to finish the race? I talked with Eric who tried to get me to go back out but he said he wasn't dropping a stage and I just kept doing the math and no matter how I did it it was equaling DNF. Cook and Jonathon were both hanging out and tried as well to get me back on the bike. Jonathon had me fed and hydrated in minutes but I just couldn't get back on. I had a beer and then another and listened to the stories from those who had survived stage 2 and heard about the ones who were still out.

Around midnight I was ready to go back out but after a few beers was very concerned about how safe it was. I was in this race to push my limits but not to be reckless and get hurt. So I crawled into my tent and set my alarm for 2am. I had a tube of pringles in one hand and chapstick in the other and keep waking up to eat and then put the chapstick on. I got up at 2 but couldn't get out of my tent. I changed clothes, set the alarm for 2:30 and went back to sleep. At 2:30 I got up and got out of the tent and tried to get ready but just couldn't do it. I fumbled around trying to get my helmet light plugged in and couldn't find my stage 4 food bag which should have been impossible to miss. I was out of water but told myself to just get the food and get on the bike and then stop on the trail for water but just couldn't bring myself to do it. I can come up with infinite excuses but what it comes down to was I quit. It was too hard and I didn't want to walk all night by myself only to still dnf in the end so I quit.

I'm proud of how much I did ride. 22 hours is my longest day with a bike yet and I pushed myself further than I ever have before. I really have little experience with sleep deprivation and didn't want to test it out for the first time at 4am on Yellow Gap Rd. There was very impressive riding by everyone who showed up Friday Night and I can't wait to do it again.

After finishing Brad Kee came up to talk to us for a little bit. His son, who can't be more than three, came up and looked at my bike and said:

"You ride bikes?"

"Yeah, I ride bikes," I said. "Do you ride bikes?"

"Yeah, I ride bikes," he replied.

Yeah, I ride bikes.

1 comment:

  1. Good write up! It sounds like one heck of a day on the bike.

    Congrats on putting in all the time and miles that you did do.