45k - I could feel that something was wrong. I was beginning to cramp in my thighs and occasionally in my calves. I thought I had prepared well, nutritionally speaking but alas there it was. I was typically fine unless I was driving up a hill, that exertion seemed to bring on the cramping more than anything. It was the first time I realized that mentally I was strong, my lungs were strong and I was not overwhelmed with the discouragement of the mud (by now I had probably carried my bike 3 to 4 kilometers) BUT that my body could actually overrule all of that and simply shut down. I pressed on as best I could but my pace was slowing.
49 or 50k - My legs are going to physically cease turning the pedals if I don't find some energy for them. I remembered that I packed a granola bar on a lark. It probably saved the entire day for me as I could feel some energy come back about a km after I ate it.
If the race ended here I would have been golden.
54k - Cheering spectators are beginning to appear in clumps. Must be close to the end. Please let it be close to the end. Some guy with a British accent yells out to us "Keep pushing. Only 3.6 km to go." He seemed so precise, and raised my hopes but he was off by a few km's. That really messed with my head!
58k - There are easily as many people walking their bikes now as there are riding them. I was fifty-fifty. Even the smallest climbs seemed huge to my aching legs. Unfortunately (but I loved it!) the pitch to the finish is very steep. Seems like it'll never end. I have long since given up any consideration of my overall time. I resolved long ago that a victory for me is to finish.
59.5k - I'm walking my bike up the climb and a spectator yells "You're almost there! Throw that leg over the bar!" It occurs to me that yes, he is right, I don't want to finish this race walking. So I get on the saddle and somehow push through the last of the hill, passing one last person as I do so, to finish.
All I can think of now is, "Where can I get some food?"
- After carrying my bike as much as I did I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I had carbon-frame envy!
- I saw a lot of broken derailleurs but mine was never one of them.
- I never did puncture, something I was certain would happen. I do wonder if I had punctured if it would have broken me mentally though.
- Unicyclists are insane.
- Tandems are insane.
- Fixies are insane.
- All the arrogance I observed before the race melted away on the course. We were suddenly all friends, joking with one another as we raced. It was awesome camaraderie.
- I lost at least 10 minutes waiting for the police to move us through busy highway intersections. This was the great equalizer. People that I had passed minutes before were caught up to me again.
- Even one volunteer or spectator at the side cheering you on is a really big deal.
- My gears shifted arbitrarily throughout the race because of the mud caked on everywhere.
- You can't tell a book by it's cover. People wearing Nike running shoes and khakis on a 40 pound Sears special were beating me. Whereas I was passing some who looked like they were outfitted for the Tour. Go figure.
- You loose all pretense on a race like this. At some point I was just competing with myself to finish.
|Happy but exhausted. A lot of mixed emotions at the finish.|
|This is after I removed about 2 fistfull's of mud already.|
|My commuting bike is still wondering what just happened!|
|This is the first wave. I was in the third wave. By the time I crossed this same spot 1000 riders had come before me.|
In the end I finished something like 786th out of the total number of riders. Including all the teams and such I heard that there were over 2000 racing, so I guess I did ok. They had trouble with the timing chips and I think are still trying to fiddle with it, but as of right now it seems the 60k took me 3 hours and 40 minutes. That's 40 minutes shy of a goal that I thought was very attainable. Oh so humbling.
I would do this again in a heartbeat though. To wit, I am searching for other races on this years calendar.