Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Mess

The Cohutta has come and gone, and left me with my first DNF on a NUE race. I could complain about alot of minor things that went wrong, but in the end, it came down to weather.

Started off the day right by forgetting to take my vest off before the start. Not really an issue to ride no hands and get it back in the pockets, until I realized I put all my food in the vest pockets and not the jersey pockets... Got that fixed, and made it over the climb. Apparently my speed was appropriate to my current race placing in brush creek, as I never caught anyone until the end, and dropped the train I was leading 3/4 through.

Old Copper road was lonely again, as I was passed by a few geared people and unable to catch onto a wheel. Made it to the whitewater center and started some singletrack climbs feeling great. I caught 2 SS guys who passed me on old copper road and had another in sight, and then CLICK!

I looked down, and my right pedal had fallen out again... WTF? It was definitely torqued, especially after it came out in a previous race. I stood there in shock a minute, and tried to thread it back in, but the threads on the crank were slightly crushed in a place. I managed to borrow an 8mm and chase it back in and tighten it on. I figure it was a good 5 minutes gone.

I started the furious chase back on, and went a bit harder than I should have. 30 miles later, My pace slowly drifted from passing people like crazy, to riding the same speed, and then to falling off the back... In my mind, the event was quickly becoming a "ride" and not a "race."

By this time the fog was dense, temps were dropping on the ridge, and the wind was crazy strong. There were even some giant headwind sections on some of the climbs. I made it to aid 3 just before the torrential downpour began. I only had summer wear and the vest, and I knew if I didn't make it down the mountain before it rained that I might not make it down at all.

Of course I made it 2 minutes into the 12 mile descent and the rain came. The descent was crazy. Torrential rain, 5o ft of visibility with the fog, and huge crosswinds that I had to lean into and still got moved across the trail. I was good for most of it, but my body fat slowly lost the battle to the wind and rain.

As I approached Aid 4, I was slowing, shivering uncontrollably, and had no sensation in any of my fingers... It got to where I would brake and I could feel the bike slowing, but couldn't feel the bars or that I was braking. It was hard to even stand up and hold onto the bars they were so stiff. Got to aid 4, and hung out for a bit under the tent as people streamed by. I knew I was done when I took my gloves off and all my fingers were completely white and waxy, with no sensation at all in the first 2 phalanges of any fingers.

If I was racing, I might have convinced myself to go on, but the combination of the day defeated me, and I accepted a ride back to the start after 65 miles... I really don't know if more clothing would have been enough, I would have had to bring fleece gloves to make it down the descent, and even then with the rain, it might no have been enough. One more thing to worry about, I guess.

Kudos to those that finished, it was an epic day for sure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Cohutta 100 has finally arrived, and sadly, it is my first real race of the season... Should be a good shock to the system.

Elizabeth is doing alot of the SERC races this year, so I've accompanied her to Chickasaw and Tsali for some SS action... The first race was a mudfest, and I ended up slipping back to 5th after figuring out that the XDX tires were great for the clearing the wet course the first lap, but not as great on the 2nd lap when everything turned slick as snot...

Tsali was less fun. I made it 5 minutes into the woods, hit a bump, and wound up on my top tube... I looked down expecting to see a broken chain, and instead noticed I didn't have a right pedal. The threads were still good, so it seems to have just unthreaded itself for no reason... Of course I had every hex except the 8mm I needed to tighten it back on. Eventually someone had an 8mm that I borrowed to save myself a 10 mile walk, and I managed to finish an impressive 30 minutes back. I did beat one guy though who had his left crank arm fall off. "Hey man, do you have an 8mm?," he asked.

So back to Cohutta... It will be my longest ride of the year thus far. I tried to do a run of the 65, but the fireroads were all icey snowy. The picture below is the start of a big fireroad descent. We turned back after a few wrecks...

I'm going for the whole "I've done way too many of these fricken off-road centuries, maybe my experience will pull me through." I'm running the 32x20, again, for the third year in a row. Every year I think I should use a 19, but then I get on those hills and am glad I have the 20... We'll see how it goes!

Stella shares my current excitement level