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Tuesday, April 23

Derp and also duh.

Firstly, I found out there was one other strong single speeder in front of me when I quit, so had I went on and finished, best case scenario... prolly fourth.

Quitting pays.

Secondly...

Mild hypothermia:

High blood pressure, shivering, rapid breathing and heart rate, constricted blood vessels, apathy and fatigue, impaired judgment, and lack of coordination.

I can for sure say that there's not a whole lot that's "mild" about mild hypothermia.  I mean, obviously moderate and sever hypothermia would be worse, but if mild is the starting point, it's the medium fries at McDonald's with no logical smaller option. 

I've been mild hypothermia positive a few times before this past weekend's Bootlegger 100.  I can remember a solo 24 hour race at Snowshoe when I found a fleece jacket in the mud, slipped it on, trudged onward, and stayed at the halfway point next to a kerosene stove until I stopped shaking.  For sure, the Double Dare weekend when Captain Morgan and I went a little too deep into the night, and after crossing South Mills River a thousand times, we paid for it coming all the way down Clawhammer soaked to the bone on fixed gears around midnight.

You wanna talk about "impaired judgment" and "lack of coordination?"  Shit, we started our twelve hour (and ten minute) day that way.

It crossed my mind that normal people just don't find themselves in this situation that often.  I mean, ask your "normal" coworker how many concussions they've had in their lives...

Normal people have "allergies" and "carpal tunnel" and "texting neck."

On the ride back to Lenoir in the van, there was way more happiness than shame regarding our collective decision to quit.  We all agreed we'd suffered worst in the past (one of us had battled cancer, so...), but mebbe that kinda suffering isn't gonna be the reward we're looking for now.  I still wanna do hard things, but also enjoy my time on the bike, not take unnecessary risks, and still get to see my little friends.  I certainly don't want The Pie or Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever getting the call that they found my frozen little body knocked the fuck out in a ditch on Pineola Road.

Because that thought went through my head multiple times as I bobbled all over the place like a two week old baby had VNC'ed into my cerebral cortex and decided to take my adult body for a ride.

The funny (or not) thing about all this was that when I decided to go ahead and stay on the hundred mile route, I thought the quitting option was off the table.  I'd have no idea how to get back to Lenoir on my own.  My phone was back in my car, so there would be no way to navigate a route.  I did that on purpose, BTW.  I wanted to finish this race.  Both Watts and Garth had told me how terribly difficult it is, but also what an incredible time they've had doing it these last couple years.  Strange that I end up in the van with them... and they both said they felt bad that this was my first taste of the Bootlegger.

Once again, oh well.

Better to have loved and lost or some other quip about not sitting on the couch watching whatever is on television on a Saturday morning.

Monday, April 22

The 2019 Bootlegger 100 (57)

Spoiler alert.  My Bootlegger 100 ended in a DNF.

If you're not interested in reading a very long post about a non-finish, I suggest you go elsewheres.

Get to the parking lot earlier than I needed to, because I worry about things like finding a spot for my car and also finding some chamois cream to borrow.  Find Watts's Adventure Wagon, say hello, ask for a dollop of taint-do-well.  I take note of how most everyone else is dressed for the day, and I'm immediately filled with doubts.  I convince myself that my GORE Shake Dry jacket will be too much for a 41-50° day, head back to the Honda Fit of Rage, put a second sleeveless base layer under my sleeveless jersey... stick the Shake Dry in my jersey  pocket... just in case.

Left behind in my car:

GORE TEX cycling cap
Long sleeve GORE Wear base layer
HandUp cold weather gloves
GORE Shake Dry jacket with a hood
GORE Wear C5 All Mountain baggy shorts

Roll up to the line, say hello to little friends... more clothing analysis.  As per the usual, answer the "I thought you didn't race gravel" queries lobbed my direction.

Go.

Head outta town, I see Garth "Sideshow Bob" Prosser up ahead.  I pin myself to close the gap, knowing full well it's not in my best interest.  Pull past Kelly P, but I'm too outta breath to say a word.  Get up on Garth's wheel, blurt out a "Hello, Garth," and begin my drift back into the pack.  Goodbye, Garth, Kelly... everyone...

What a drift backwards it is.  At first, it's a tidal wave crashing around me.  Eventually, it becomes  packs of riders, probably two to ten at a time.  Finally, Gardner pulls up next to me and tells me to hop on his wheel.  I explain to him just how detrimental it would be for him to slow down to the maximum speed I can maintain on the mostly flat ride outta town on my 32X18.  I knew I'd be alone for most of the day, and I'd already made my peace with that when I decided to do this race.

"It's okay, I'm not really in a hurry."

So we ride side by side and chat.

A loud noise comes up from behind, and then a fat bike passes us.

Fuck me.

I tell Gardner to just leave me in my own filth.

"I know what's coming... big climb."

Gardner also tells me about the weather forecast during our conversationally paced group ride.

"A lot of people only looked at the weather down in Lenoir, but there's a good chance of a wintery mix up on the Parkway."

I'm in that "lot of people" group.

Fuck me twice.

The course does finally turn up, and I say my goodbyes to Gardner.  I knew it would go like that, but it doesn't make me any happier once having company and now losing it with something like a million miles to go.

Hitting the first really significant climb around mile twenty, I catch up to fellow single speeder Gabor.  I pass him, wait a minute or so... look back... he's stuck on my wheel.

"You don't mind if I stay with you, do you?"

Fuck me thrice.

*in my head... of course I don't want you on my wheel, I wanna be left alone and never see anyone else in the single speed class the rest of the day so I can just focus on finishing and not placing*

Out of my mouth, "Sure.  C'mon."

And there he is, a man much larger than me, sticking to my wheel up the climb.  I was just getting ready to turn on my music and tune out... and he pulls alongside me and starts chatting. 

And it was actually nice.  I've raced against him quite a few times in the past, so it was pleasant to talk to him for once IRL and not just on FaceBook.  We get over the top, and on the backside, I'm able to put a small gap on him in the more technical parts of the descent.  I paid a small price tho, as my hands got too cold, my thumbs went numb, and my core felt the chill.

Gabor catches up to me on the following flat road.  I see a smart person stop to put on a jacket...

"I think I need to put my jacket on."

"If you stop to put on a jacket, I could stop with you and pee."

I commence to pull out my jacket and put it on while rolling.  Dick move?  Well, I have a decision to make soon, and I'd like to make it alone.

We'll be riding up to the split in the course for the 60 and 100 miler.  I'm thinking if I roll up to it alone, see most of the people in front of me splitting short, mebbe I join them.  I'm already fantasizing about getting home early, going to the Spoke Easy 4/20 Party... hitting the Backyard Trails on Sunday with fresh legs.

But Gabor is still with me when we get there.  I explain to him my dilemma.

"What else are you going to do today?"

So, I figure that he's been keeping with me on the climbs, so mebbe we'll get through this whole thing together. 

It's about a ten mile climb, some of it just plain stupid steep.  We're riding up into the mist, and I'm glad I still have my jacket on, despite the effort being put in.

Gabor is right there with me... until he isn't.  I don't know when it happened.  It just did.  I could no longer see him anywhere behind me back in the misty air.  Meh.

Fuck me for an amount of times that I've lost track of.

Up at the Parkway aid station, grab some vittles, zip up the jacket, and go.  The Parkway section is gentle, but the weather is not.  A drizzle, a mist... a little bit of hail? 

Fuck me infinity.

I bang the left turn on to a gravel road, and I know what's coming because of everything Gardner had told me earlier.  Something like a fifteen mile descent, the longest of the day.  Mebbe this will be fun?

It is the total ass opposite.  First, the hand pain from the cold.  Then my thumbs go numb, to the point that I can't feel my drooper lever... I take turns with my right thumb to give its compatriot a break.  The shivering starts... also the out loud swearing.  I feel muscles in my back start to lock up.  My head starts to shake back and forth like a bobble head doll.  I'm having trouble hitting the brakes s-o-f-t-l-y and controlling my bike is now difficult.  I'm a human Shake Weight tossed off a cliff.

And I still have a long way to go down.

I see another rider pulled over, blowing into her bare hands.

Is she smart for stopping for self-care, or am I smart for trying to get this over with as fast as possible.  I'd bet my money on the former, but I'm more familiar with the latter, so whatever.

My knees feel like blocks of ice, and I'm wondering if I'll be able to turn my legs over when this descent is done.

Finally, the road levels out... sorta.  It's still slanted downwards, but I stand up and pedal frantically in an attempt to get my blood pumping.  Wrenching the bars back and forth, exaggerating every movement.

I finally coast into the aid station at the Mortimer general store.  There's only a couple other riders there... I'm too delirious to notice all the bikes lying around.  I grab some tiny potatoes, try to drink a cup of Coke without pouring it all over my face, my hand shaking out of anything close to control.

I hear the aid station volunteer tell another rider that going straight will put them on the rest of the 60 mile course, short cutting back to Lenoir.  Still, town is about 25 miles away.  Take a right turn, and you have the rest of the 100(7) mile course, about 50 miles to go.  I don't even know what to do.  In theory, I'll get warmer? 

But that last decent, that was dangerous.  I was very unsafe, and the only way I coulda made it safer would have been to walk?  Down gravel?  50 or 25 to quit?  I can't decide.

And then Watts pops his head outta the general store.

"What th-th-the f-f-fuck are you d-d-doing here?" I stammer.

"Quitting."

I quickly realize that if I go on and finish now, I should be in third... assuming I can keep Gabor away AND live through the rest of the day.  Still... fifty miles... four more hours?   I have no clue what I'd be in for.

I watch as Watts tries to pour a Coke into a cup.  He's in bad shape, the cup and the can violently dancing around in the air.

Watts tells me that he was able to reach out to Dorothy, and his van was on the way.

"I quit t-t-too."

We head into the general store... and it's packed with shivering bodies.  It's a strangely comical and scary sight.  There's a whole lotta people in bad shape, obviously all victims of our own lack of preparedness for the deteriorating conditions.  Some are laughing at the sad state of affairs, while others are just shivering, soulless husks sitting and shaking in silence. 

Oh, and Garth is in there... and our new friend Lucas... who happened to have a phone on him, thus allowing Watts to reach out to Dorothy to arrange our timely evacuation.  After much shivering and seeing people with no such option come and sadly go either back out to finish or fail, Dorothy arrives and we commence our long drive of shame back to Lenoir.

That was hard.  I'm not thrilled with quitting, because I know I've done harder things in the past.  That said, I was unprepared, and I paid the price.  Going on might have been dangerous, so I'm stupid but not that stupid.

Interesting enough, we got back in time to see the winners finish the 100.  Nick Bragg came in third wearing just a kit.  I talked to him... and yeah.  The fastest riders got up and over the Parkway before the weather went to shit.  Us mortals and slightly faster than mortals got unlucky... well, the kind of unlucky associated with not carrying some warmer clothes just in case.

Oh well. 

100(7) mile DNF Podium (l-r): me, Lucas, Watts, and Garth

Thursday, April 18

More garvel?

I wouldn't say the prospect of this weekend's Bootlegger 100 (107) terrifies me, but perhaps it does fill me with a certain amount of dread.  I can't remember the last time I propelled my human form on a bicycle over this kinda distance.

That and my almost complete unfamiliarity with any of this is cause for at least a modicum of concern:

I think someone told me that some of this is similar to the Mountain Mania course, which I did almost two decades ago...

Well, kinda. I got lost and ended up riding back to the finish and then went backwards on the course looking for my "friends" to ride them in. You see, I got them to sign up thinking it was a "mountain bike race" because NO ONE was doing garvel races back then, and the internet wasn't so much a "thing" where you could find out "stuff."

So, yeth.  "Friends."  I mean, we still hung out after it was all said and done, but I would imagine they might still hold this against me.  Especially the friend who ended up with post-Waffle House diarrhea who was super disappointed that the only port-a-potty on course had fallen victim to arson a couple nights before the race.  Such a sight, a melted blue port-a-potty up at School House Gap... or so I was told, since I never even got that far into the actual course.

I figure I can finish the Bootlegger... I guess.  Old man legs and generous cut-offs throughout the day favor the ignorant but stubborn.  The only shit part will be the frustration of riding such a stupid bike over miles and miles of paved sections. 

Had to dig out the tiny little Topeak commuter lights I thought I was done using for awhile.  Rule compliance and whatnot.

I'm really hoping I can find some little friends to keep me company along the way.  I definitely had some lonely moments at the Pisgah Monster Cross last year, so mebbe there will be someone out there with a similar goal of just finishing in a reasonable time with minimal discomfort.

Most importantly, this event will fill the bill of "racing" my way into fitness.  I'm only two weeks and change away from PMBAR and then a month or so from Trans-Sylvania Epic, the closest things I have to what athletes would call "A races."

Yeehaw.

Wednesday, April 17

Whilst I was elsewhere

Ohio. Visiting family. Of course, bring bike.

I never realized how close The Boy’s house is to the Mohican State Park. Thanks to Trail Forks for pointing out the obvious. I couldn’t really meet up with anyone I know here in the South (part of Ohio) because when visiting is occurring, rides happen on a very flexible schedule.

Mang, Mohican is sweet. I’ve only ridden some of it in the Mohican 100, and I haven’t done that race since 2008. The year that I traveled up with Niner Mike and three kegs of beer… so my memory is a wee bit cloudy on that one.

I didn’t pay very close attention to the stats for the trails. In my mind, there was only 21 miles, but in reality, over 24. That and I assumed it was relatively flat, but upon further review, I see it has close to 4,000 feet of elevation gain.

Doh.

Let’s just say my dick was kicked in, and the two organic toaster pastries I ate hours before were all but burnt up.

Of course, I ran into people I knew out there. One guy from Arizona that used to do NUE stuff back in the day that now rides with Tom Vassago and also Joe Worboy, AKA Trailer Park Racing. Also, of course, it was when all the riding was over and done with, so my ride time was spent solo.

Sunday… wait for the earth to warm up… ask The Boy if there’s any gravel nearby.

Yeth.

Head out in search of it and get a right proper Ohio road ride under my butt. Dilapidated heavy equipment, barns falling in on themselves, a chasing (mebbe playful) loose dog, cows and calves, random sweet cars in someone’s yard, and I got coal rolled at one point.





All in less than an hour and a half.

Monday, I just wanted to get out. Waited for the sun again, but it didn’t do such a great job warming things up this time. Went out into a strong head wind for a greenway grind and an about town(s) ride about.

I've lived in the south long enough that I sometimes forget that there are places where you can drive through a building and have beer handed to you without ever getting outta the car.



And yeth, I did do the things I went up there to do in the first place. Hang out with family.


Baby play and help The Boy do various things about the house (and learn a plumbing thing in the process, yay).

So all in all, decent groundwork for the Bootlegger 100 this weekend?

Prolly not but whatever.

Tuesday, April 9

6 Hours of Warrior Creek '19

Full disclosure.  Last year, we were second outta six teams.  This year, there's only three teams registered.  Obvs, we had a lock on a podium spot, assuming one of us could successfully complete at lap (I guess).  One team is half of last year's winners, Jarmz.  The other half woulda been second last year, had his partner decided that he didn't wanna go out for that last miserable lap of mud, cold, and rain.

We (I) did go out, and in the process, moved up a spot.

The other team registered came in third last year, also moving up a spot because they went out for that last lap as well.  They were close enough to keep us honest and obviously aware that the race ain't over until it's over.

I figure it's only fair to be up front about this kinda stuff regarding a guaranteed podium.

Jarmz is lined up a row ahead of me.  The race is on, and he pulls away right then and there... along with what feels like everyone.  It's a hard start on the pavement for a single speeder who can't spin up the gear and peg the heart rate to the max out of the gate (that would be me).  Riders start coming around... last week's Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte champ, Jason.  Female Charlotte honch, Bonnie.  Local rivalries are real.

We come into the slick 180° roundabout in the campgrounds...

And there's already evidence that someone went down, a rider scrambling to get back on their feet.  I yell "CAREFUL CAREFUL CAREFUL," as I make the turn, and I hear more riders go down in the corner behind me.

Nobody ever listens.

We get into the power line cut that gets us back on to the proper trail, I make a dicey (for me) pass on Bonnie through the rough, and start looking for carrots up ahead.  I doubt I'll ever see Jarmz again, aside from standing around in the pits between laps.  I do see Jason tho, so I start making moves to get up on his wheel.

As always, the trail is packed with trains of multiple riders.  I get it that the guy running the engine at the front shouldn't have to pull off the trail to let the whole train through, but the guy in the coal car needs to start getting to business IMHOMO.

I do what I do.  I start making noise, hollering, cheering riders ahead to make a move, mocking when necessary.  It's my job as lead rider on our team to get us back up where we belong, and not where my shitty start put us only ten minutes into the race. 

Burn.  All.  The.  Matches.

Make a move, make more noise, make another move.  I get around Jason, and now I feel like I somehow just won the Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte by some sort of default.  I'm dealing with a problem tho.  My riding is pure shit.  It takes awhile before it dawns on me, but not only did I not get a good night's sleep, I also only had about 12-16 ounces of coffee when it normally takes 24-32 to get my morning right.  I can't focus, and it shows.  I bauble a few corners, screw up the top of the first rocky section I've cleaned like a billion times in the last million years, and almost come out of the top of a couple berms, still slippery from yesterday's rain.

Gads.  Need to do something about this sad state of afffairs when I get back into the pits.

An hour and twenty something minutes later, I come into the finish.  I'm looking all over for Nick and yelling his name... we never really had a chance to talk about which side of the road, how far up from the finish line... and there he is.  Way up there.

At least he's there (unlike me once last year when I totally wasn't).

Nick goes off...

photo cred: Daren Wilz
And I grab my pizza and the Coke I'd planned on drinking before my third lap in the hopes that the caffeine and sugar will get me back among the living before it's my turn again.

Stand around, no results posted... prep for my second lap... clean tag with Nick and go.

This time, the trail is dry, and my mind isn't total shit.  My legs are tired, but I'm having fun.

photo cred: Daren Wilz
I kept my streak alive of never being passed once the race got into the woods, put up a decent time, tag Nick.

Check the results.

Well.

We're far enough from first that they could have a semi-catastrophic flat and still win.  We're ahead of third enough to have a non-catastrophic flat and hold our place.  And somehow... the time is gonna come up way too short for Nick to get a sixth lap in before the time runs out.  As a matter of fact, barely any teams are gonna make it to six laps.

Sigh.

Still gotta put the work in, so Nick comes in, and I go back out, hoping to keep our gap steady on third, trying to keep the local rivalry with Jason and Noel in our favor without blowing my load in doing so.

I do all that.


Of all the images of the podium I found on my phone, my contemporaries did a much better job keeping what we'll call "some sort of decorum." 

Nick and I, fourth time racing Duo SS, third time in the bridesmaid position (although I've been there once before our relationship started).

Golly, that sure was fun.  And painful.  Mostly fun tho.

There are possible changes in the air for the event next year.  My fingers are crossed, and it's not just a head start for geriatric single speeders either.

Monday, April 8

6 Hours of Warrior Creek '19: Preamble

Friday night.  There's going to be a teenage sleepover under my own roof.  That does not sound conducive to a good night's sleep to me.  I decide to crash at Bill Nye's House, since he's gonna be joining Nick "Dip 'n Spray" and I for the trip up to North Wilkesbermo because his broken body won't let him do much more than spectate and gimp around.

Get off work, ride home, pizza, shower, beer, pack the car... head over to Bill Nye's house around 7:00 or so.  I'm fully stuffed, but he made pop corn, and I do love me some popcorn.

Start to watch some movie, Colin shows up as if there's some kinda TV party going on... we end up talking about Jaws because Bill Nye just got the shark Quint drew on the chalkboard tattooed on his calf earlier in the day.

I ask Bill Nye if he's ever seen the Jaws documentary about the making of the film.

"How am I just hearing about this now?"

So we put that on and commence to go deeper into the night.


I only brought over X amount of beers to ensure limited damage points. The documentary will have a hard stop slightly after 10:00, so I should be in good shape.  10:30 and I head to the spare room... and the air mattress that I'd unfortunately pumped up to something like 120PSI.

Roll around on the rock hard mattress, consider letting some air out, and fully realizing that I might let out too much all at once forcing me to have to get out the pump and start all over... I do nothing.  I hear Colin and Bill Nye out in the living room, fast forwarding Jaws to the best scenes and watching them.

I left one sleepover to join another.

A rather fitful night of sleep with random wake ups at 1:00, 4:00, 5:00, 5:30... some of which being slathered in my own drool. 

I might be a wee bit exhausted.

Up, pack the car, stop for a cup of coffee, meet up with Nick in a Walmart parking lot, get to Warrior Creek around 8:30.  Plenty of time before the 10:00 start.

Get my shit straight, dress to 90% readiness, head over to the shitter line to be sure I'm 100% voided.

Some guy in the shitter line tells me that he reads my blog and I respond with my usual empty threats to kill it with fire very soon.  Probably "thanks" would have been the more appropriate response.

If you read this, polite bathroom guy, apologies for lack of a better response to your kind words.

Walk out of the bathroom, look up the hill... people are already lining up at the crowded start line.

Shit.

Run my bike to the front, back it into the line per standard douchebag protocol, ask my Duo SS nemesis Jarmz to hold my bike.

"I'll be back in less than five minutes.  Promise."

Helmet, gloves... what else can I forget that will make the next hour plus of intense effort even more regrettable?

Get back to the line in time, crawl in to where my bike is still being very thoughtfully cared for by Jarmz... listen intently to the rider meeting instructions... go back to nervously anticipating the (as always) sketchball, full-intensity start that is the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.

Thursday, April 4

Varsity Snooze

Hot diggitydam.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek this weekend.  Racing my way into fitness à la Jan Ulrich circa his chubby days.  Then a long weekend in Ohio of intense greenway training followed by the Bootlegger 100.

I got caught sleeping this past Sunday and missed the big price jump on the Greenway Classic at Anne Springs Close Greenway coming this June.  At this point, I'm a little concerned as to whether or not it's gonna happen.  With only sixteen people registered for some or all of the weekend's worth of action and such an appreciable price jump over two months out (for a first year event), it's hard to imagine covering one's nut for a band and all the other stuff they are proposing.  I know it's people like me sitting on the fence not really helping things along, but I haven't seen the levels of promotion I'd expect if this thing is gonna be worth it.  As much as I was looking forward to it, I was also kinda squeezing it into a busy part of the year, so...

Meh.

Did I mention that I registered for the Breck Epic last week?

No?

Now I have.

I'll be racing duo male 50+ with long time Trans-Sylvania Epic and Tour de Burger compatriot and someone I'd call "frand," Chris Merriam.  We should have a delightful time being old lowlanders together on a mountainside, clutching our oxygen starved chests and mocking the youths and all their exuberance.  This will be my (runs to the other room, counts the belt buckles) 8th Breck Epic, but only my second time doing it as a duo.

Although I don't expect to finish on the podium this time... unless there are fewer than four teams again.

Peter and I were only a scant few hours behind the leaders and finished second at the 2012 Breck Epic in the men's open duo.  All this despite being twice their age and half their intelligence.

Stoked that things are ramping up and mebbe I can spend less time worrying about whether or not the grass is ever going to grow in my backyard because I'm distracted by this whole "racing" nonsense.