Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mammoth 8 Hour

The Danimal and I sat around after Boggs with Jason King and started asking each other a number of questions that, to the untrained ear, would be followed by some sort of retirement party or a simple, "I quit."

"Why did we just do that?"
"That was really dumb!"
"What were we thinking?!"

Fast forward a few hours, (and a few beers) and the conversation changed dramatically:

"I could do that again."
"At least we know how to pace."
"It wasn't that bad."
Mammoth.  Excellent
Somewhere along the way we discovered another 8 hour race by Global Biorhythm Events.  The production was super grassroots and low-key, which is to say, pretty fucking cool.  Not to mention that we were racing in MAMMOTH, which is like, totally rad, brah.  Bike racing 8,000 feet in the air?  Bring it.
Hi-Viz Pink.  Because I can.
Because I take my racing very, very seriously, I decided to have two very, very delicious beers the night before the race.  And four slices of pizza.  And half a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips (Nicole ate the other half).  And a giant Jamba Juice smoothie.  And a pretzel.  That's serious dedication. The type of dedication that makes your stomach hurt.  You know, on account of the dedication.

The crew.  Pre-race.
The cool thing about this race was the 12:00 p.m. start time!  The not cool thing about this race was the 8:00 p.m. finish time!  Because Dan, Sara and I did not have to be racing until noon, we did the only logical thing that bike racers of our caliber can (should) do: McDonald's breakfast.  That's a lot more dedication than you can probably handle, I'm sure, but understand that we are top-level-sort-of-serious bike racers and in the presence of greatness (Sara).  Sara stuck to the cold oats.  I had the McMuffin.  Then a second.  The only thing better was the delicious brew of McCafe coffee.  It's the McCafe.

The Race
I'll say right now that even though I enjoyed my race, and appreciated the timing, the organization, and the way the race was run, the course itself was....okay.  Apparently a downhill section had to be removed, and was placed with a 35 mph downhill fire road.  The good news what that it only took a gaze upward to remember that I was in fucking MAMMOTH, and that it was GORGEOUS!  Then I told myself to stop bitching and pedal harder.  The bummer of the deal, for me, was the lack of a really good downhill section.  Because of the higher elevation, the course designers kept the climbing under 900 feet per lap.  Instead, the course had a lot of cool flow sections where, if you pedaled correctly, speed could be maintained and style could be maximized. 

My Race
My race sucked instantly.  At the end of lap one I crossed the line with searing back pain that made me curse all the deadlifts I had decided to do the week before.  Also, I vaguely recall my competitors talking a bit about this high elevation thing.  (Maybe there was something to that?)


My race continued to suck at an all-time high.  After not really getting passed on the first lap and for most of the second lap, things began to unravel.  
Dano, shredding.  Focused
My race continued to suck but I told myself, "Dude.  Like, totally lighten up, bro.  We're in Mammoth shredding some loose-on-hardpack.  That's sick." 

Then it rained.  And the dirt got super tacky.  Then the sun came out.  And it got dusty.  Then it rained. Then it hailed.

It totally hailed.  And then it stopped and the thunder and lightning start cracking and flashing.  Then it really hailed.  And the hail stung.  I let out little "yips" and "yeeps" whenever the hail hit in just the right spot.  And the sun came out.
Dan lapped me but was nice enough to wait up for me so we could share lunch.
My race started sucking again once the weather stopped.  The suckage was confirmed when Dan lapped me sometime during the fifth hour.  I don't remember much.  I did curse him.  I think I told him to fuck off under my breath before cheering him on out loud.  Either way, I'm sorry dude.  Good job.  Your bright yellow shoes would've gone great with my bright pink socks.  That's all.
Fires in the Fresno Valley area threatened the race on Friday, but come Saturday morning, clear and clean skies prevailed.  It wasn't until the 7th and 8th hours that the smoke began creeping back.  

I crossed the finish line with 8 laps sometime around 6:45 p.m.  This meant one thing: One more lap!  And so it was shred time.  

Did I mention that the leader of the Women's 8 hour race had been nipping at my heels all day long??

Sara is the funniest person ever.

Gender War
To clarify, I have no intention of negating anyone's achievement.  Furthermore, it should be noted that I'm a horrible bike racer.  One of the worst, to be sure, and not really worthy of a super sexy Pivot 429. 

Throughout the race, on any portion of the course that was going uphill, I noticed that there was a very strong and focused female from Team Helen's about 20 to 30 meters behind.  I'd lose her on the downhills and flats but my climbing prowess is such that everyone was getting my on the uphills, including Liz Dunham.  

She charged through the pit area each lap, and the story was no different leading into our last lap.  I sat idly by sipping a cola and chatting with my girlfriend, Nicole, who so graciously decided to operate our pit area.

Man rules specifically state that you have to give it a go and definitely NOT lose to a woman.  And so I did, catching and passing her on the downhills, leading into the main climb of the day.  Finally, whether it was the altitude sickness, the lack of speed, lack of desire, or whatever, but I decided that enough was enough and eased up.  Within moments, Liz passed me up and disappeared.  Then I threw up.  Altitude?  Not sure.  But it was clear that my brain had cracked as the rice-filled vomit shot from my mouth.  I chased hard to keep up but the mini "race within the race" was lost to a stronger rider.

It might've been the chocolate chip that passed through my nose, but at some point I told myself to suck it up.  I hammered home as fast as I could (not fast) and crossed the line in 5th place of 20 riders, the first rider with 9 laps, completed in 7 hours and 35 minutes, and one minute behind the women's leader.

Stud.  Muffin.

The Danimal finished in an impressive 2nd place with 11 laps in 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Sara hauled the mail, finishing in 3rd place in the women's open with 8 laps in 7 hours and 14 minutes of total riding time, just nipping on the heels of some very established female riders who spend lots of time training.  A truly impressive ride.

Thanks to Eric for getting my bike dialed and supporting the three of us with jaw-dropping kits.  Kits that scream, "cover your eyes."  Awesome.

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