Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whipping Post

My theme song for participation in El Tour de Tucson was Whipping Post, by the Allman Brothers, recorded live at the Filmore East.

I'm the whipping post, the whipping post.  Sometimes I feel like I'm dying.

Too appropriate.

Yesterday I ate so much food and drank so much I was rather miserable.  I ate dinner at 3:00 pm, hoping to have cleared everything by race time.  I didn't want to have to invoke Gandolf's fight against the Balrog, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" during the race.

But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

I had it all planned out...what to take for fuel and when to eat it.  The only thing I wasn't sure about was if and when I'd have to stop for water.

But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

I had also mapped out a cue sheet of when I expected to be where on the course, and what I expected to do next (effort-wise).

But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

I did exactly what I didn't want to do.  I started out too fast because I was too far behind the fast groups.  I had to skip between packs and as a result I was cramping well before mile 50 (of the 111.7 mile ride).  I spent a lot of time punching and massaging my left thigh to get it to loosen.

That early start forced me to be very weak at my strongest point...hills.  In fact, someone I'd been riding with said he looked forward to the hills so he could catch up with me.  We were tooling up the biggest hill, I'm just trying to avoid hitting the cramp stage again, so I'm not working very hard at all.  We're talking and sharing stores, in particular riding experiences.  I mentioned it was my first tour.  He asked how long I'd been riding and I shared that about 14 months ago I was around 300 pounds.  That almost cause a small accident as riders ahead jerked their heads back to see me.  At the time we are pace for 5:20!

I caught my second wind and the cramps went away for a while.  I cooked along with a group for about 45 minutes and we smoked at a steady 28-30 mph!  That was freaking sweet.  During that portion of the race a young lady asked to buy me a beer after the race.

I stopped to get water and use the bathroom before the last 28 miles, which are always the toughest of this course, and in particular today because of a strong wind directly in our faces.

After stopping for water, a few of us rode a half mile down the road only to be stopped at the train.  Not a bad thing as a large group formed, which allowed us to make better time into the wind and up the hill.  The group proved very fast, almost 30 mph uphill into the wind and I soon began to cramp again.

I dropped out of the group after 12 miles.  I still had 16 to go and found myself facing the wind and steady climb alone with cramping legs and that internal heat that says I've redlined too many times already.  I rode along pushing as much as I could.  I looked for my last cliff bar...couldn't find it (it fell out in the car!).  I recovered on the bike and went along as best I could before eventually catching another group.

When I finished I had a decent push, pulling ahead of my pack for a while...but then the cramps struck again and I just coasted in, not pedaling at all.

My unofficial time was 5:49:20.  My chip time will be quite a bit faster.  Either way, I wanted to break 6 hours and even if I hadn't, my effort was superior.  I've never worked that hard at anything.  I pushed and pushed and had nothing left...then I'd push some more.

I didn't ride alone today.  My brother-in-law, whose company sponsored me, joined me.  He's been riding just 3 months.  He did the 111 mile route and completed it in 6:40!  Wow.  Quite a special day.

The highlight of the day:  Seeing my wife at the finish line.

No comments:

Post a Comment