I should have written this sooner but I just didn't have the time. We'll see how good my memory is!
Race started with the first wave at 10am. Everyone except Dan and Charles decided to meet at our place around 6:15am and caravan over to Hastings, MI. Kendal was registered to race, but would not be racing for the following reasons:
- Her All-City Macho Man was not ready to go (still needed to be built up, missing parts)
- Her graveyard shift schedule put her at around 2 hours of sleep that night
- She didn't want to race due to uncertain road conditions that could dump her
- She didn't want to race because of the arctic temperatures
But that just meant that we had a crew! Everyone got her phone number as the emergency contact in case they needed to get picked up and a SAG vehicle wasn't around. Just about everyone had arrived my 6:15, were packed, and ready to roll! Except...where's Joe? Joe got a bit lost on the way to our place! Not a good omen. But soon, we were on our way to Hastings!
We met Dan and Charles on the highway and they led us most of the way. I say 'most' because I had to stop with only a few miles left to go before we arrived at the local high school parking lot. I have never had to pee so bad in my life! I tried to wait it out. But it became pretty clear pretty quickly that there was no holding this one back. Did not want to drive the stinky pee car for the next several years. So we stopped at the first gas station in town. Yes! Single user, private bathroom? No! Occupied??? No!!! One person in front of me? OMG NO!!!! It took deep breathing and great concentration to keep things under control. My forehead was sweaty with the magnitude of will power being applied. I was actually scared for humanity. The images in my head were that of my bladder bursting, followed by images of the biblical flood!
But it was finally my turn. Relief! After finishing, I noticed something disturbing. In my hurry to undress and do my business, the strap for my bib tights had touched the bathroom floor! In a very wet spot! Awesome. I would be wearing pee bibs for the race. Bad omen.
In any case, we arrived at the parking lot and met up with Dan and Charles. After getting ready, we still had a bit of time before the race start. The girls were smart. They hopped in Geoff's car with the heat blasting and the seat warmers on. The boys stood around outside fidgeting with gear and freezing our butts off! I decided to run my tires at 40 psi, in anticipation of mud.
Kendal (back seat), Danielle, and Mary
We did snap a team pic before heading off for the starting line!
No one knows why we look so happy!
I wasn't certain if I was going to 'race' this race or just ride it. I decided to just go with the flow. So at the beginning, I just went a pretty moderate pace over the pavement section heading out of town. And unlike my last race in Lowell, I decided to draft a bit if the opportunity presented itself!
The first section of dirt was a small downhill followed by a couple easy rollers. As we started off on the dirt, we all learned this would not be a muddy race as most anticipated (feared?). The ground was frozen solid with a fair bit of ice! Eek! I kept taking it easy since I usually take 20-40 minutes to really warm up (and I'm not one of those racers serious enough to get on a trainer or rollers prior to the race start to be in peak efficiency to start a race).
The first major hill started at around 10 minutes into the race. It only reaches a maximum grade of around 16%, and only briefly. Most of the hill is between 10% and 13%. But it's early enough and long enough to thin out the herd a tiny bit. So far, I was feeling pretty good! About 30-40 minutes into the race, I started to push a bit to see how my body would respond. And when I'd catch people, if I wasn't going way faster than them, I'd hop on their wheel and take a short breather. When faster riders passed me, I'd catch their wheel and let them pull me for a bit. It was working out pretty well!
The race was pretty treacherous though. There were a lot of riders fixing or walking their bikes on the side of the road. And the course was littered with dropped or ejected water bottles. I'm sure I saw at least 100 bottles on the road. Not exaggerating!
I realized I hadn't take a drink in a bit. Due to the rough course, I decided to use my CamelBak! Brilliant, right? Well...
I tried to get some water from my CamelBak but nothing was coming through the tube! I reached back to feel the CamelBak. There was definitely water back there. I tried to look at the hose. It felt super stiff. I determined it was frozen. Disaster!!! What would I do?!?!?!
I started to reel myself in and ride slower to conserve energy and perspire less. I wanted to get through the race without feeling like I was going to die. Then I decided to try to thaw the hose. I unzipped my jacked and my jersey and tried to pull the hose against my skin. I messed with that stupid hose for miles and miles. Finally...resignation. I would have to ride conservatively.
About half way through the race, I did catch a guy that went a very good pace for me. So I latched onto his wheel. My plan was to follow him all the way in. His pace was just perfect. I wasn't taxing myself but I wasn't loafing along either!
So freaking thirsty!!!! I really thought I'd find another ejected bottle on the ground. I had made up my mind to pick up the next one I found and drink from it! But all the ejected bottles were at the beginning of the race. Sad. The thirst and dry mouth made it so that I could not eat my Honey Stinger Waffles either. No fluid or nutrition for this race. Sad.
Nothing to do but trudge on behind the wheel of the guy in front of me. Then it happened.
Happened so fast. One second, I was on this guys wheel. Next second I was on the ground cursing and grabbing for my calf. My bike had just slid out on the ice. I fell on my right side. I was in the middle of the road. After getting my senses, I realized my right calf had cramped so bad that I could not stand. So I crawled to the side of the road, then grabbed my bike and dragged it to myself. I can't remember the last time I cramped. It was quite painful! Eventually, I was able to stand and try to stretch it out just a bit. Looked over my bike real quick. And decided to keep going. Had to take it real easy at first so as to avoid cramping up again. Also noticed that my right hip and knee hurt like hell.
After a mile, everything loosened up and I was able to get going again at a moderate speed. Still had to be very careful of my pace and exertion since I was without food, water, and trying to avoid cramping again.
With around 14 minutes to go, Charles made up a 12 minute stagger and caught up with me! I was pretty dead by this point. So he took off and finished the race with a average speed of a hair over 18mph! Not bad at all!
I limped in a couple minutes after Charles finished, with just a tiny bit left in the tank for a "sprint" of 28 mph at the finish. I wasn't even going to sprint across the line until the guy next to me stood up and tried to mash. Had to beat him. I did. Sometimes, it's about the small victories! :)
Eventually found Kendal. I learned that Mary flatted 11 miles in and was enroute to the finish line via a SAG vehicle. And Joe's rear derailleur cable snapped, but he decided to soldier on with his chain stuck in the smallest (hardest to pedal) cog in the back. Kendal had relocated the car so I we walked back to the car to load my bike, Mary's bike, and I put some warmer clothes on. By the time we got to the finish, Geoff and Danielle had come in. We found Joe. And Dan followed soon after. Geoff had wrecked pretty bad and rode very carefully and gingerly the rest of the ride. Dan, who always is prone to cramping problems, suffered from bad calf cramps and had to stop several times to stretch.
Overall, though, it was a team success! Everyone but Mary finished. No one got lost. No one was seriously injured. AND! We did not come in last as a team! We came in 34 out of 38! Success is relative! And for us, I think this was great!
We all went to an Applebees afterwards (figuring all the downtown places would be packed with 3000+ people there). Had a meal and went home!
After getting home, I learned two annoying things:
1) My hip and knee were purple and bloody. My bibs had coagulated and stuck to my wounds. Not fun to take off! Stupid knee and hip hurt for several days!
2) My stupid CamelBak was NOT frozen. I went to clean it and noticed I couldn't get water out of the hose. That's when I realized the valve was locked!!! I have no idea how I locked the valve. So. Stupid. Am. I. *shame*
So now I know my CamelBak has a valve that can get turned on and off! Every race is a learning experience!
Next up? The Ann Arbor Velo Club Spring Training Series and Willow Time Trial!
Take a look at a short video I made of Barry Roubaix: