Ride Hard....Roll Fast

My adventures as a triathlete, Mountain Biker and aspiring bike racer.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Photo Essay

18 hours following my crash in Flintstone, I was on a plane headed for the West Coast. Michael's family was allowing us to stay at their house in San Diego for a much needed vacation.
Unfortunately, my road bike had been shipped before Rocky Gap, and never saw the light outside the bike box (arm muscles were too jacked-up to ride). I made it to the beach (although was unable to surf or swim), and we fit more activities into a one-week trip than I would have imagined. Instead of bore you with the details, enjoy the photo essay below....

DNF....Did Not Finish

Rocky Gap was named as such for a reason.
If you don't like rocks, I don't recommend riding there.
My second XTERRA had some unexpected surprises...and in the words of Sue Haywood, "I'm sure it makes me a better person, but I'm sure there are easier ways to become a better person".
I arrived in Flintstone, MD (I kid you not) on Saturday afternoon with my coach, E. We set up camp, literally, with our friends Pierre, Dr. Kathy and Roger. And Valerie, who may just be the cutest 18 month old out there.

We pre-rode the bike course around 4pm, and it was obvious from the start that I had not fueled myself properly during the week. Never wanting to be full of excuses, I know that I had eaten poorly for a few reasons, the main one being that Saturday was the 4 year anniversary of my Mom's death, and that anniversary is always accompanied by stress and a non-appetite. So there I was, not 18 hours from the start of a race, with very little nutriution on which to build, and a tough course ahead of me. The pre-ride was tough...the trails were very rocky and the climbing took a lot out of me. But we managed one loop, and headed back to the campsite for dinner.
Many thanks to Roger and Eric for their amazing foods...camp pizza and zitti! Mmmm. The s'mores afterwards weren't too shabby either ;)

Race morning was beautiful...and then it got HOT. My swim (or shall I call it run-swim-run-swim-run) was not too bad. The format was a mass start, with all 300+ athletes charging into the water at the same time. Only here, they gave us about a 400m sprint to the water to thin out the field. Once you completed the first loop in the lake, you got out and ran another 400m back into the water for a second loop. I came out of my first loop just ahead of Dr. Kathy, so we got to swim the second loop together. It's amazing how much fun two women can have, and never say a word!

Then there was the bike. You had to complete two 7-mile loops to total 14 miles. I started out feeling ok, managed to make it through the two major rock gardens unscathed, and pushed my way through the first half without too much drama. But I could feel the energy in me draining quickly. I reached the bottom of the infamous "Emmitt's Revenge" and started grinding my way up this awful climb. (note: I don't know what Emmitt was angry about, but someone needs to get that man some therapy!) I wasn't even a 1/4 of the way up when my body just said "nope, no more". I did something I've never done in a race before...I got ready to quit. I tossed my bike to the side of the trail, and sat up on the ledge, watching all the bikers as they passed. I sat there for about 10 minutes, trying to figure out what to do. I had about 3.5 miles to go in either direction, so I had to ride. If I rode the rest of the course, I could make the decision of whether to continue once I completed the first loop. If I rode the course backwards, or at least towards the nearest Aid Station, then I'd have to quit, as it would be too late for me to change my mind. The battle ended with a very selfish reason: I didn't want to have to say "I quit". If it was going to ever DNF, it wasn't going to be because of a decision I made. Now how forebodding is that....
Back on my bike, I finished the lap and headed out on the second loop without much thought. Just get it done, was the monologue in my head. Then, all of a sudden, I started to feel great. The second time through the two rock gardens was even cleaner than the first, and I got excited. I could turn this thing around. Emmitt's Revenge forced me off my bike (as it did many riders) and I pushed my hunk of aluminum up the hill for what seemed like eternity. But with every uphill comes and equally, if not more, satisfying downhill.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. On the final descent, no more than 200 yards from the paved road that would take me back to the end of the bike course, my front wheel met an unyeilding rock that stopped her in her tracks. My bike stayed put...I, on the other hand, went sprawling over the handlebars (called an "endo") and landed not-so-delicately on my left elbow. I thought for sure I'd broken something, and it took all I had just to drag myself and my bike off the trail. The next rider to come by went for help, and I escorted myself (and my dang bike) down the rest of the hill to the road. My friend, "Scud", loaded me and my bike into his car and took me back to the finish line.

My arm was not broken, but when the swelling peaked, it did look as though I had a bone sticking out of my elbow. Bruised, cut, and sore, I got to watch some of my friends cross the finish line after putting forth brave efforts all around on what was a tough course and even hotter day. Crashes and DNFs happen to the best of us, so while I'm disappointed I didn't finish, I know there will be a next time. The silver lining? My first bike loop (which was timed) was the 4th fastest in my AG, including the 10-minute pouting session at Emmitt's Revenge! So you're saying there's potential.....

To Rocky Gap!