Wednesday, September 3

ALL THE EXCUSES, 2014 Edition

Well, before I get into my list of excuses for my less than exemplary performance, let me congratulate my travel buddy, Jordan Salman (The Hub/Pisgah Tavern) on finishing her first hundred miler in way, way under eleven hours AND getting 11th place in the women's category.  I made her put a light in her drop bag... something she will never let me live down.

Ride bikes, drink beer, eat food, beat Bill Nye.

"There's only sadness in my bowl."

Now more about me.

photo cred: Chris Merriam
The real reason I faltered at the SM100?  Chris Scott pulled a Jeff Gillooly on me.

I pretty much knew I'd be a sack of shit going into the Shenandoah Mountain 100.  Too much racing in May and early June followed by built-in lethargy and no races to motivate me to stay in shape.  I predicted my downfall well before the "season" ever started.  My pre-work rides started becoming shorter and shorter as I found little reason to roll around on my work bike in 80°+ degree morning temps, cotton t-shirt soaked in sweat, messenger bag covering 70% of my back, breathing fumes and standing at stop lights.  Not helping matters much, the drive train on the Fastest Bike in the World is so worn out... the grinding, crunching, and clicking.  Mind numbing.  I have no excuse.  Makes every ride worse than a night in an Abu Ghraib prison.  My employer pays for my work bike parts.  Apathy is not an excuse... except when it is.

photo cred: Watts
No ORAMM to get me over the mid-summer hump, no Breck Epic anvil to harden me TFU.  No one to blame but me there as well.

That trip out West?  It didn't help nor hurt my fitness.. I don't think.  Pretty sure I spent as much time drinking beer and watching movies with Bill Nye on his iPhone as I did actually riding. Whatever. Mancation.  No regrets, although Bill Nye wishes we woulda spent more time with his German fräuleins at the Moab Brewery.

The SM100 Kegerator Kidz Krew

My rides since June have been lacking.  Aside from the four stages of the Tour de Burg (that I actually took part in), I've not really pushed myself.  Not one local mountain bike ride of more than 15 miles.  A handful of mountain rides.  For real.  Lots of fun had though, so there was that.

photo cred: Watts
My bike.  Yeah, I probably shoulda checked it over, maybe even rode it after weeks of hanging in the work stand unridden.  On the way up to Virgina, I couldn't even remember if I had the right gear on it (I did).  On our short pre-ride (longer than ever at 14 miles), I discovered that my front brake lever was dangling in its last 20% of throw, not snapping back to position.  I got back to the van, pushed back the pistons, swapped to new pads (the power seemed tainted, the pads way too shiny), and drizzled lube down into the lever at the push rod.  Best guess?  Contaminated fluid that hadn't been bled in, I dunno, three years, making things sticky.  It was close to working itself out after repeated squeezings, and then for some reason I adjusted the lever throw out so much that I could no longer comfortably reach the levers for the purpose of slowing down.  Because?  Dunno.

I also wished I woulda left the 29 X 3.0 Maxxis Chronicle up front, but the chance of rain was high.  Mud plus 3.0 tire plus a crabon fork not designed for a 3.0 tire woulda meant no more crabon fork.  Woulda took the edge off and meant less fatigue-induced speed reduction... which only makes bouncing down the mountain worse.  A never-ending, exponentially extrapolated shit show.

My psyche.  The day before, I'd sorta tossed in the towel when I cracked my first beer around 3:30PM.  Not (way) too many beers, but more than I knew I should drink before a long and hot hundred miler.

photo cred: Chris Merriam
My sleep was ruined by lack of planning.  I slept on a pleather couch in the back of the The Hub/Pisgah Tavern Sprinter van, with my head at Jordan's feet, doors open to let the air circulate... which never happened.  I spent most of the night tossing and turning and unsticking myself from the couch and my arms from my chest.  It was just disgusting.  A breeze producing fan woulda been a game changer.  Or a hotel.  Or staying home altogether.  I'm just the kind of person that falls asleep within three minutes of staying still... or not at all.

Jordan either kicked me in the head once or I head-butted her feet.  Same end result either way.

Once I realized I wasn't "racing," I stopped giving shits.  I didn't take care of myself and wasn't going to bother.  I wanted to spend the least amount of time possible on the bike by doing as little as possible to take care of myself while not paying any mind to how long I hung out at the aid stations.

Watts does not "hang out."

This race, it has left me in a quandary.  Feeling like (and actually being) a hunk of shit and only ending up forty minutes slower than last year?  Mind boggling.  I was having those "maybe I don't wanna do this anymore" thoughts.  Finish the year, shut down the blog, and just go away.

I have those thoughts often enough to know that's just the moment talking.

I am burning the candle at both ends while holding the candle sideways over yet another candle.  I know the answer is more sleep, less beer, more spinach, a bit more focus... the answers are easy to come by.  Follow-through?  Not so much.  This year has gone pretty much as expected, either a self-fulfilling prophecy or I'm very good at predicting the future.

If you are my FaceFriend, you know I do have spare time in my life.  I just can't get it in chunks that are easily converted into productivity.  If I had a nap chamber, I would make so much great bike race as opposed to spending my day writing on the virtual bathroom wall that is FaceBook (credit Bill Bye for calling FB what it is).

Two, three, of four more "races" to go in 2014.  Yippee or not to yippee, that is the question.


Anonymous said...

You sound a bit burned out.(?) I've been in that spot. You still have the desire to race and "do well" but not so much motivated to train to the point of being able to run up front consistently(?) There is still a lot of fun to be had by just going out and "riding" in the middle of the pack merely for the purpose of having fun and still enjoying the camaraderie that comes from participating in a racing event.

Eric Wever said...

Monster-Cross fixed gear. Do it.

Ross said...

Take solace in the fact that even (maybe especially) when you are wallowing in you're own mediocrity it makes for some damn good reading.

Pretty sure I rode with Jordan off and on for a good portion of the day, I seem to remember a Pisgah Tavern kit. She was putting it down out there, had to get out of her way on a few downhills. In and out of the aid stations fast as hell too.

Robert Clark said...

That last part about the candle pretty much sums up my wife says something about growing up and being a man...but meh

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs more candles!

Anonymous said...

I like to tell my boys that a bad day at the races is better than a good day at work.

SPP said...

Reminds me of when I was in college riding a motorcycle 45 minutes each way year round in Connecticut...made riding suck!

You need to ride for FUN.