Monday, May 20, 2013

Royal fail

Big slice of humble pie and DOMS on deck for me this morning after the Royal 162 race on Saturday. Having previously finished this beast in 2011 on a day with conditions best described as appalling, 2 years more experience, and a solid training effort, I felt ready to give this race a good hard run.


Early in the lead pack (on the left):
Photo by Cornbread.

I felt really good at the start and tried to contain myself as much as possible. I still ended up riding off the front of the pack in a few sections at the start only to ease up on some of the hills and just work with their pace on the climbs until the lead group was whittled down further and further. Roughly 45 miles in the final group of 4 was selected and I was sitting in it. I really didn't think I belonged with that group and knew at least 2 of the other riders were really strong contenders, but I still felt pretty good and was able to take my turns pulling without too much effort.

Letting it roll:

Keep up the pressure on the rollers:

Don't forget to smile for the camera:

Photos by: Craig Lindner

At mile 63 we had our last pass through town with any guaranteed services. 3 of us pulled in and made a quick stop to reload on water and take a pit stop. The other rider kept rolling towards the next water point at mile 90 or so. I had only loaded 3 of my 4 bottles planning on rolling into the town with a slightly slower group and having time to reload there, plus grab a coke and possibly a solid food item like a sandwich. I forgot to grab the coke (mistake #1), then let the other 2 start to open a gap about 5 miles out of town (mistake #2), and didn't pack any true solid/non sugary food with me (mistake #3).

I was ok with rolling off the back of the other 2 as I was sitting in 6th at the time as a 2 rider chase group had passed up the refuel town as well. We could see them when I fell off our group of 3. I think part of the reason I fell off is that our lead rider was very intent on hunting down the 1st place guy and I was sitting 3rd wheel behind a 120 lb 5'5" gal who was throwing off no draft. I couldn't get any respite and was fighting going into the red again before we even hit halfway.

After I got dropped, my plan was to keep riding at a good steady pace and just finish out as best I could. I had finished the race 2 years ago in 40 degrees and rain, so I was relatively confident in my ability to keep on rolling solo considering it was upper 70's and sunny with light winds at that point. One of the chase group guys backed off and as I passed him, he said he was just going to finish it out at a much slower pace so I was back into 5th overall. By mile 80, my stomach turned completely sour though. I felt it coming on and tried to down more of my nutrition and drink, but it just wasn't settling well and I ended up slipping into that downward spiral of eating less and less even though I needed the calories.

Just past mile our 100 we rejoined the course with the people doing the 100 mile route of which there were over 1000. I was looking forward to having some company and hoping that might lift my spirits a bit. I was still rolling ok, but I could feel my energy levels dropping and nausea getting worse. At one point I forced myself to down a couple shot blocks knowing I had to eat something. If I hadn't gotten a rush of fresh air from a downhill, I'm confident I'd have puked while riding. Our checkpoint in a state park was coming at mile 121 and I forced my way there. I finally got passed by another rider in my race about a 1/2 mile before that and was back to 6th.

At the checkpoint I tried assessing the situation, but it wasn't looking good. I didn't need water, but I headed off to the spigot at the ranger station looking for any excuse to get off my fucking bike. I loaded my bottle back up and laid down on a bench to hopefully collect myself for a few minutes. Finally, I faced reality and went slinking around the corner of the building to a slightly less conspicuous spot and found myself on all fours puking against the side of the building.
A few minutes after the dry heaves subsided, I felt very slightly better. I decided to go ahead and roll out of the station and try nursing my way the final 35 miles to home by easing some food and water back into my system. I made it up the first climb out of the park and a few of the smaller rollers afterwards, but on the next big climb, I found myself on the flats prior to the climb in my next to easiest gear barely able to turn the pedals. I hopped off to walk the climb and a wave of nausea blew right back over me as I trudged one foot in front of the other barely making it above 1 mph. I pulled the plug at mile 128.

As luck would have it though, another rider from our shop happened to roll by at that point and decided to walk with me. His dad was waiting for him in a town another 5 or 6 miles down the road and could give me a lift. However, after assessing my condition, he offered to call him to see if he could come backwards on course and find me to pick me up. I ended my day watching a stream of riders trickle past while basking in the sun and sprawled along a grassy ditch. After getting back to the finish line, I found that the 3 riders I'd made the final group of 4 with came in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd with the winner being from the group of 3 of us that made the stop together.

Post race with 4 awesome dudes:

I need to say a big thank you to my wife and family for giving me time to train, the guys at Rasmussen Bike Shop for the service and support, Oakley for some kickass eye wear, and all my riding friends for being a killer group of people to ride, race, and hang with.

Race Rig:

2012 Salsa Chili Con Crosso 100% stock build with only a swapped out seat and seatpost. Aero style seatpost mount dual bottle cage holder, Revelate mountain feed bag and tangle bag, plus a Banjo Brothers cue card holder.

I'm playing the sad sack alternating game of "what if" and "kicking myself in the ass" this morning. I can live with the DNF; it happens. I've had to pull the plug before and at some point in the future, it won't surprise me if it happens again. I was happy with my effort and my overall race right until I blew up. Worse than the DNF, worse than tossing your cookies in front of a bunch of strangers, and worse than 40 hard miles of nausea, honestly, the worst part for me was having my older daughter ask how I did in my bike race and seeing the puzzled look on her face when I had to tell her that I couldn't finish it because I got sick and couldn't keep going. That part really sucked.

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