Wish I had done this race last year! Incredible course and organization etc.. Things were run very smoothly and the course was superb. I WILL make a point to go and ride some of it again and again (glad I brought my new gps and "mapped" it as I rode too btw). It was also cool to see so many great people out for this. The top end of the field was STACKED compared to any of the endurance races I've been in yet- which was pretty cool to see. I wish I'd been able to keep up a little better just to see the moves that would serve to separate that group out...
So far as my performance- mostly frustrating with some embarassing mixed in and not much more to say, but I'll do my best to make it sound interesting.
I got sick ten days ago and kept pushing too hard down in Decorah and over last weekend. I wound up taking the entire week off from work and seeing doctors twice- more or less desperate to get enough rest/medecine/whatever to at least be able to finish ok in this race.
Luckily, by the end of the week and race day I was feeling well enough that I thought I could give it an excellent "go" (I've still got some congestion, but that's about it. The actual lingering effects on my power/endurance are anyone's guess). The race started ok, but I quickly saw that I wouldn't be able to make the real selection that took place around mile 25. A group of 10-12 were "gone". I fell back and into my own pace. I almost caught a (the?) large group around mile 35 or so? but bent a couple chain links at the top of one of the "king of the mountain" climbs and had to stop for a moment to fix it. Jim Palmer came by and was very nice about asking if I needed any help, thanks man! Soon found a rhythm again and got back into things- the race wasn't going as planned (obviously I'd wanted to be with the lead) but it was still going well and within my expectations and reasonable goals. I passed a couple people and then passed Mr. Palmer tinkering with something on his bike (he didn't need help).
At this point I began riding with Heath Weisbrod which was really excellent. I was working too hard most of the time to talk much, but I enjoyed the company and riding with someone I have a lot of respect for.
I badly wanted to keep my pace "up" and to see if I (we) could possibly catch a legitimate chase group and I pushed too hard through a corner and went down. I was immediately up and after banging my handlebars and bar ends back into place I was continuing. At the time I knew I had hit pretty hard and slid on my hip, but the adrenaline was going and all I knew was that my hip was a bit sore.
Heath and I rode on and pretty hard until about mile 51 where we saw a group in front and he put the hammer down hard to catch them. I knew I didn't intend to stop at the 55 mile checkpoint (other than to get maps) and decided to let him go figuring that I'd latch on regardless. This was true- I latched on with him leaving the checkpoint, but the other riders were still there when we left town.
I was feeling good at that point and probably put down the most effort of the entire race for the next 12-15 miles. I passed the 62 mile mark just under 3:40 elapsed time- an excellent mark for me riding hilly gravel roads mostly without the benefit of a draft. Heath and I never really worked together consistently for most of the 30ish miles we rode together, but he certainly did help me some when we got up on top and had to battle the winds (I hope I helped him too). Around mile 70 another fellow caught up to us and we caught up to another guy as well.
We now had a group of 4 and I figured it was time to rest and plan some sort of an attack. I probably should have been thinking how nice it was to have a group to share the task of battling the wind with and how we still had a lot of miles left... I was was also finding myself struggling from time to time with my positioning on the bike and the growing tightness in my hip.
I rested for a while and only took short turns at the front, then I took the lead up one short climb around mile 75 and accidentally broke the group apart. It was me and the guy who had caught us from behind (Jason Stukel I think) and when I glanced back we had opened up a surprisingly large gap. I got excited and worked with him for 3-4 minutes and we were able to get "out of site" after going down a very long downhill. Of course this was the RAGNAROK so we immediately had to climb all that vertical right back. The climb went fine energy/power wise (I let him take the lead and kept my energy level down as much as possible), but I knew by the time I got over the top and "cooled down" a little that I was in trouble. I simply couldn't make a comfortable smooth pedal stroke due to my left hip and the right side of my back and neck all getting tight.
I pedaled on quite a bit further, but the discomfort didn't go away and neither did the nagging thoughts that I should quit so that I didn't make it harder to get back to riding after the day was over. I remembered the nagging back pain that I'd had for 4 or 5 weeks after that day back in January when my seat had slide backwards on the post.
I gave in at mile 89.xx
I feel like an idiot for not finishing
I feel like an idiot for attacking Heath and the other rider and then quitting so soon thereafter
I feel like an idiot for not assessing the situation better and just quitting back at mile 40 when I fell (if I was gonna quit)
I feel like an idiot for having so many damn excuses
I'm looking forward to getting back to training and the upcoming races on my schedule.
So far as my injuries go- I was surprised to find that I'd bled all over my bibs and also from my right forearm and elbow. My clothing hadn't torn much so I had assumed I wasn't cut up. My hip is pretty gouged, but more importantly is very swollen. It is still flexible and I think I will be able to at least commute to work tomorrow. I've been icing it a lot and taking advil etc.. My back and neck are a bigger question mark. I had some trouble getting out of bed this morning and all day with flexibility. Regardless, I will be fine sooner rather than later and other than the lingering effects of my cold I'm feeling pretty motivated to get out and ride.
thanks for reading or what not
Hitting the Hero Gravel. - I wan't able to ride Monday due to Gymnastics and with rain predicted all day today into Thursday I really wanted to ride on Tuesday. Well, in the morning...
11 hours ago