I got to the race early and cheered on some friends in other races. The bikes and people were looking pretty muddy. As it turned out the course was in a lot better shape then I thought it would be, but the top half was pretty sloppy. Rideable, but a little slick in places.
So I throw a Stinger Waffle down my neck, get to pumping some Hilltop Hoods in my ears, and start warming up. I'm racing in the single speed class this year, and in usual fashion I show up late to the start line. I wasn't gonna win this thing anyway, but I get sick of starting from the back row.
The gun goes off and I actually got a great start. I weave and bob in and around people and find myself about mid pack as we go into the woods. I'm pretty happy at this point, because I always suck getting off the start line. Only problem is that now I need to keep up with the group. The mud isn't bad, but it is just enough to get your attention. I push way harder than I wanted to just to stay in my spot in the train. As we head up the first hill, a gap develops between me and the 8 or so guys in front of me. I try to close it, but my legs and lungs politely say "no bueno señor". About this time I get to the "rock garden", which really isn't a rock garden, but it is full of a lot of hecklers. To bad for me, as I glance up, I see some familiar faces. Sure enough, the word is out and I'm spotted. Let the heckling commence.
photo cred: Street Ghost/Kevin Thompson
I also noticed a lot of beers in hands when I glanced up. This was bad as my legs are in anarchy at this point and they see the beer and start screaming at me for tacos and beer. Now I say to myself, why the hell am I thinking of tacos and beer on the first lap of this race. I actually start picturing sitting on the deck of El Torito in Santa Barbara, looking at the pacific ocean sipping Tecate and eating chips….WTF?!?
Suddenly, I get bumped by someone "on my left". I slap myself in the face and keep digging. I jump on Ritchie's wheel as he goes by me and hang on past the start line and back into the woods. This is when I notice the "problem". Is it a mechanical? A flat? No. The "problem" is that I haven't redlined my heart rate like this in a long time. I'm in decent shape, but I just haven't done much (any) high intensity. I start getting a cramp in my side. It gets so bad, that I have to back off and slow way down. Four or maybe five guys go past. I spend the next two laps trying to recover. The mud has made it necessary to pedal on the downhill section, where I'm usually recovering and not having to pedal. Mud is slow like that and likes to give you that gluey feeling on your tires. Just ask Gerry. In the pic below, I'm sure he is winning a 100 mile race somewhere…….
G. Pflug, photo AE Landes