Tuesday, September 3

The Tree Shaker Six (?) Hour Race '19

I used to be good at certain things.  Other things, I could at least fake my way through them.

Now, I fake my way through the things that used to be right in my wheelhouse, while the things I used to half-ass...

At the start line, I feel like I'm lined up in the junior class up at the front.  Most of the guys next to me look like they still don't have to shave yet.  They're talking about other races they'd like to do, mebbe next year.

"Have you done the Lumberjack?"

"Ummm... back in 2006," I reply, realizing that some of them probably weren't even old enough to watch a PG-13 movie back then.

"This must be a pretty good course for a single speed, right?"

"Ummmm... "

Memories of all the "good for a single speed" courses I've ever raced flash through my head.  Not misty water-colored memories.  Dark, sad, painful... repressed for a reason memories.

"Good for some single speeders.  Strong riders who can lay down power the whole time."

I'm lined up at the front for my own selfish reasons.  Not only do I wanna be in the woods with the fast riders, the start is on a 2.5 rider wide gravel road (path?).  I can foresee bars banging and riders touching the floor.  I don't wanna be one of those riders.  I tell the boy band member next to me that I really don't like the idea of lying down in the first twenty seconds of the race.  He concurs.

Despite our agreement, our handlebars are locked together three pedal strokes in.  My dog, I love bike racing.

I lose some ground heading up the gradual climb.  It's okay.  No one knocks me over, and as I do see riders skittering left and right in the loose sections, no one goes full Pete Rose. 

Into the woods and Sara G comes around me in the only wide open section I can think of on the course.  Pretty sure we've been in the same zone before at events in the past, so I convince myself that I should be able to hold her six hour pace, mebbe better it?  Her local counterpart, Bonnie, hot on my heels.

Oh... I'm not racing in the women's class, but I've seen Dung Le already pass me early on, just crushing it.  I've already pegged him for the SS win, so I can't even consider us in the same "class."  And Sara and Bonnie who I'm trying to staying in touch with?  I didn't know it, but they were in the three hour race and riding at their three hour pace.  Meh and dammit.  I coulda asked and not just assumed, but that woulda been smart.

Allow me to fast forward a bit.

I'm passing people.  Even more people are passing me tho.  I'm just about at my absolute limit.  I told myself that this would be the type of event where my Wahoo would come in handy.  I should be able to sustain 160+ BPM for six hours.  Just gotta stay outta my red zone.

Almost every time I look down... I'm in the red.  Not even a half lap in and my lower back is screaming.

Hello, old friend.

I've been here before.  I know better.  I can't go this hard on a course like this.  Without some extended climbs that I can stand up and grind out and a descent here and there to take a break, I'm just digging my own grave.  I finish my first lap, pretty sure I'm in second place SS, and then decide that I need to try something different.  It's a six hour race.  Anything can happen.

I dial it back a notch on the second lap.  More riders come around.  A couple on single speed, although I don't know if they're six or three hour racers.  The slower pace means that I'm hitting the chatter and roots instead of skipping across them.  My back is shutting down.


Twice (that I can remember) I've allowed my lower back to get so bad that I was in terrible shape.  Months of doing strange things like sleeping in a hammock in the spare room, painful bike rides, work sucked... life was not pleasant.  All I can think about is, "am I digging a hole that I won't climb out of any time soon?"

Just like that, I quit.

Sure, I still had to finish the lap, but I slowed down considerably.  Roll the rest of the way around, cross the line, head back to the pits... to many jeers and "what are you doing?" comments.

That's that, pretty much.  Obviously, I shouldn't have just entered a race because I had residual fitness from Breck Epic and a free entry from a previously canceled event.  I knew it was a square peg/round hole scenario, but... three day weekend much??  I just wanted something to do, mebbe to fill that Shenandoah 100 sized hole in my heart?

Spent the rest of the morning and afternoon drinking beer, cheering others on, and at one point, loaning my bike out to Daniel from Bike Source when I saw him walking off the course with a terribly wobbly wheel.  Get some advice from Chris W about how to mebbe avoid these pesky lower back problems in the future (homework??).

Oh well.  I probably shoulda just done the three hour event, found a duo partner so I could stretch between laps, or just went for a bike ride (or split up all the shitty house-related work I did on Sunday into two days instead of one long day).

As I've said before, live, learn... forget.


Anonymous said...

Quitter quitter chicken fritter 😱

Anonymous said...

Time to pull the Pflug? Nah!

RPEE said...

Missed seeing you at awards

RK said...

any hints about lower back homework? Cause mine is starting to cause me regular trouble...

dicky said...

From John K on FaceBook (someone I trust):

"Buy Eric Goodman’s Foundation book or look him up on YouTube"