Monday, June 22

Cowbell Marathon 2009

Saturday evening when I got home from the Cowbell I tried to piece together the race when The Pie asked me how it went. The 115 degree heat index was not only still messing with my body, my brain functions were definitely on some lower level. I felt like Jon Krakauer when he wrote the first draft of Into Thin Air. The facts were all hazy, and the sequence of events jumbled as I tried to figure out everything that happened between the hours of 10:00am and 3:30 pm. Here's how I remember it.

Before heading out to the race I woke up with a weird idea. Since I turned 40 this last Wednesday it seemed like fate was pushing me towards pulling out of the single speed class and entering my first master's race. I got there, swapped classes, enjoyed the Stabby shuttle into town for the start, and peed before the start (I would not pee again for @ seven hours).

The start was a heinous paved section 6.3 miles from the trail where we would be doing six 8 mile laps. I'm not sure how the superstar single speeders do it, but I can never stay with the main field very long in these kinda conditions. I was well off the back by the time I rolled into the Fisher Farm trails and looking to sift my way through all the folks who had put me behind them on the road.

All photos from Big Worm

I found myself in good company on the first lap. I was with SSlOhio Rob and local Eric Hagerty, and I could see Carey Lowery and Rebecca Rusch from time to time up ahead. I did my best to not over exert myself on the steep climbs remembering that I attacked them last year and ended up dropping out from all the stupid efforts I made throughout the course of the day.

Here's where things get fuzzy (not Fuzzy) in my brain. At a spot where I can't imagine some one would ever wreck (and according to local trail coordinator Mark Sullivan I'm probably the first person to do so) something happened... I clipped a pedal or hit a root or something... and was chucked into the air and landed down in a culvert on the opposite bank onto (and my memory is fuzzy here again) some rip-rap. I gathered myself outta the ditch and felt some pain in my shoulder, pinky, and left thigh. I checked over the bike and everything looked good, so I figured I would get rolling before I got stiff and do a better analysis of my condition on the fly. I wasn't too badly beat up, but I did suffer a nasty contusion on my thigh that felt sorta like a cramp in progress.. a Charlie horse I guess.

When I cleared the singletrack and headed out to the hot, exposed field section I reached down for an overdue drink of something only to find that my bottle had probably ejected during my unplanned flight. Heading out on the most exposed part of the course where I planned on doing the majority of my drinking without a beverage was a bit of a concern as the temps had to have been well into the 90's by this time. I did get a swig of something that tasted a lot like urine from a fellow racer, and it was by my best estimate the same temperature. Better than nothing, but I did wonder if that guy had bet his friends he could get Team Dicky to drink his urine...


When I went out my third lap Dejay was busy goofing off and wreaking havoc in my pit when I thought he should have been busy winning the SS class. We rode together for a bit talking and what not. He told me he was gonna do four laps and quit. The heat was stupid, and it was near impossible to stay hydrated. I hung with Dejay as long as I could, but since we were on different agendas (I actually wanted to finish) I rode on slowly and languidly.

My thigh was none too thrilled with my decision to carry on, and my leg didn't really want to keep bending. My pace reflected my inability to use my left leg like a... left leg, and I started dropping back into an unfamiliar place in the main field. As I was finishing up my fourth lap Harlan and another top male came by me, lapping me, which was something I hardly thought would happen. The top four females were outta sight, and had been for quite awhile. I recalled my goals from last week for the race were "to not suck, quit, or get hurt". Apparently the only one still on the table was "not quit".

I headed out for my fifth lap and my stomach continued to feel like it was fatally attracted to my spine. My leg was really protesting any more movement, and I just couldn't see the point in going on. About a mile or two into my fifth lap I pulled the plug. As fate would have it right at the point where I decided to bail Big Worm was standing there with a camera (just like last year). We chatted for awhile, and then I headed over to the timing tent to turn in my transponder.

Before I handed in my chip race announcer Bruce Dickman gave me his usual set of verbal jabs and dumped some ice on my head. I decided I wanted to know what place I was in when I quit, just for piece of mind. I heard the timer guy mumble something that I thought sounded like ninth, and I thought that was a great reason to finish my day. He then did not mumble when he said "Second, you're in second in the masters class".


I have quit way too many races while sitting in second (including last year's Cowbell). It stings more than you would know (unless you have done it five or six times in the last decade). I decided I would rather keep moving and hope for the best knowing that I would rather go out and cramp in the woods and die trying than to just quit in the comfort of my pits. I went back to the point on the course where I ditched and started back up at it.

Those last two laps were some kinda struggle. I did not know if I lost a place or two with all the time I spent quitting/not quitting. At least I wasn't gonna quit this thing, thus achieving one of my three goals, and keeping my record clean of DNF's this year. My leg felt like a brick, my shoulder was too tweaked to really stand up hard on the climbs, and my stomach reminded me every once and awhile that something was rotten in Denmark.

I came in from the sixth lap and finished in something like 5:30+. After I got my head straight (er) I went over to check the results to see that I ended up third. Stranger still, Dejay (who was going to quit) ended up passing all the other single speeders who didn't drop out (attrition was incredibly high that day) and won the SS class. My hat goes off to everybody who managed to stick it out for 55 miles under such conditions. I heard the EMS crew kept busy throughout the latter part of the day assisting riders who went just a bit too far.

That night as I watched Benjamin Button on TV my middle toe on my right foot cramped in a very downward pointing position. I went from screaming to laughing as I'd never seen such a thing. I even called The Pie over to look at the anomaly. I guess my toe had taken the brunt of the heat and action all day. I never knew.


Chr1st1 said...

bit of a drastic way to lose body fat before the breck - leaving it attached to a tree - Just because you are 40 doesnt make you any less likely to fall off hah!

misfitpsycles said...

atta boy dicky!
quitting sucks.

Leyonce said...

Good job staying out there. Thanks for convincing me to stick with it. The heat was brutal.

Anonymous said...

CALL ME!!!!!

You know who.....

dicky said...

Sorry, your number's been busy.

Shawn T. said...

I got you to drink my urine....and got 10 bucks off my pitcrew that do you know what pee tasts like?

That stuff was InfinIT custom blend. That was my hot day formula with lots of extra electrolytes. It workes great all day and kept me from locking up and cramping.


Mike said...

You so need a white belt to go with those white cycling shoes!

Gregorio said...

Great job suffering it out to the finish and a podium spot as well. That has gotta be a mental boost for the Breck Epic, you're gonna kick some ass.

EndlessBikeCo. said...

Way to stick out the heat this weekend and get on the podium! It was nice meeting you.

newtonfreak said...

That was a tough day! I remember doing a hike a bike behind you, you mentioning something about your head exploding, but all I could focus on was your feet moving in front of me. thanks for that, if I hadn't seen them, I probably would have just stopped and slept. :) Good luck in Breck,