Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Not a Race Report If I Only Last One Lap.

Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you.
-The Stranger, The Big Lebowski (1998)

Man, oh man, did I get eaten by the bar on Sunday in Rainier.

It really boils down to one thing. One that everyone is tired of hearing out of me: I'm sick. Really sick. Sicker than I've been in a few years. The kind of sick that isn't remotely fazed by two straight days of hiding under the covers watching rhythmic gymnastics while overdosing on cold medicine and orange juice.

I shouldn't have even rolled out of bed on Sunday, but pride and stubbornness prevailed over common sense. Rainier may have been my one and only chance to get called up first, and I wasn't going to let a little deep chest cough and debilitating fatigue ruin that moment.

Being sick also prevented me from riding my cross bike during the week and testing the fixes made by the shop on Monday. So, predictably, I started having back derailleur problems at the beginning of the pre-ride, but I thought those had worked themselves out once I had shifted up and down through the full range of gears. Instead of taking it up to the repair tent to make sure, I decided to take a nap in the car.

Coughed and hacked my way through the warm-up and the call-ups. Just 45 minutes of HTFU, that was all I wanted from my body. I think it might have stepped up and pulled through if the first lap hadn't turned into a comedy of errors.

I had a great start....for about 50 meters. Then my bike shifted itself into the easiest gear and would not shift back out. Fifteen riders go flying past me. I curse the bike back into gear and manage to make it though the first 1/3 of the course before it happens again. Bike shifts into easiest gear, but this time no amount of cursing works.

I was lucky to be near the pits and lucky that Shimano is providing pit bikes and wheels for all of the races. I cruised into the pits and was on a pit bike within 45 seconds.

Having a pit bike: awesome. Having a pit bike with pedals that don't quite cooperate with my shoes and with a different shifting system: for me, a bit of a debacle. I ride Crank Brother's eggbeater pedals instead of Candy pedals because the platform on the Candy pedals makes it almost impossible for me to clip out and dismount with my Specialized shoes. I learned this the hard (i.e., faceplant) way at cross practice a month ago.

By the time I was on the pit bike and had some shifting issues sorted out (I ride SRAM, the bike was Shimano), I was smack dab in the middle of the beginner's field and approaching a huge bottleneck on the course....two consecutive short, steep risers as the course moves out of the woods and into a grass field.

Under normal circumstances, this would not have been a problematic section of the course. Build up some speed, weight the bike, climb and ride through. However, that scenario assumes that the riders in front of me are also riding this section.

This was an incorrect assumption.

As soon as I rounded the corner into the first riser, I could see a wall of women off of the bike and walking up the second hill. In order to get up and around safely I would need to slow up and shift into a smaller gear.

Except there was no smaller gear. I had neglected to check where I was and was stuck in the big chainring. And I couldn't get clipped out.

With no safe way to move forward, I laid the bike down into the brambles on the side of the course.

As I lay there on my back in the dirt, still connected to the pit bike, uncontrollably coughing and looking at the steady stream of beginners riding six inches from my head, one thought flashes into my head:

Fuck. This.

I get back up. Cough to the point of throwing up. Then fall back over again.

Maybe on a different day, I would have been up for the challenge of working my way through three fields to try and regain contact with my own. It would have been excellent handling practice. But Sunday was not a "climb every mountain" sort of day. It was a "I am so over this bike racing shit" sort of day.

After reclaiming my own bike from the pit, I finished the lap and rolled off of the course and back to the tent.

Rainier: Fail. DNF. Reboot. Start over.

This week: First priority: get healthy. Second: get bike fixed (again). The weekend brings a new course at Sherwood Equestrian Center. Hm...that means horse shit. Lovely.


Mikey said...

What - no photos? :)

Hope you're feeling better and back to kicking ass real soon!

Lindsay said...

No pictures, although one of me looking like an upside down bug on the trail would have been PERFECT.