The second round of the Snake Creek Gap TT series, where to even start. It is impossible to try and put in to words just what was going threw my mind for this race. I had several moments of what the hell was I thinking and some of those were even before I started.
Last month I rode the 17 mile route. I was wore out when I was done, but content with my time. I figured that I could take some time off of that with a little effort. I had decided to race the 34 mile option this month just to get more miles in for the trip. One of the problems was that I didn’t get on a bike since the last race. Then if you add the fact that I built up a new bike a couple of days before the race and the weather was supposed to rain all day, I was really wondering why I was heading to the 34 mile start and not the 17.
We were in one of the front buses. This is good for getting there and not having to wait in line to start, but this also puts a lot of people behind you and when most of them passed me, it was not helping. The start had a few miles that were too flat for a SS and several were already flying by me. I had to make my first stop to raise my seat up some. I guess it was not the best to just ride the bike around in the driveway before it’s first big ride.
This section is not the best warm up for me. It is better then the climbing on the 17, but still not ideal for me to be ready for what was next. After several good mud puddles, I rolled up to the creek crossing. One guy rode threw and others were walking. It did not look too bad and I just got off and walked it. I probably could have rode, but I didn’t want to mess up any more bearings. Yes, the water was damn cold! Good thing it was only knee deep or so. It would not have been pretty if it was a little higher.
There is a long climb after the creek and this is where my day started to go down hill, or well I guess it was actually up hill, but I think you know what I mean. Some of the trail was very muddy and I had to put more effort to keep traction and moving. I did not climb some hills that I should have been able to because it was slick and I was already getting tired. Pushing up the hills was not easy either.
I had to make a quick stop to tighten my headset. I guess it was not completely set. Other then digging out my tools, it was not a big deal. I really needed a break anyway. After a little more climbing I found myself thinking that I was just about wore out and I was not even half way threw the first half. My back was really starting to hurt and that kept me from climbing the steeper sections.
I felt like everyone had passed me, but more people kept showing up on and off. I kept moving as much as I could, but I was trying to think of a good reason to drop out. Even if I could have came up with a reason that sounded good enough, I was in the middle of the woods with no idea of where to go to get back to the car. When I hit the gravel down hill it was a huge motivation builder. I had some time to coast and actually get some where. This also let me do some much needed recovering.
I was still feeling bad, but was getting closer to the rest stop. Just kept turning pedals over and trying to enjoy the trail as much as I could. I kept telling myself that if the sweeper catches me before I get tot he stop, then I was done, but that didn’t happen. At the rest area I grabbed a gel, oiled the chain and tried to remember who I was. I also had to tighten the headset some more. I really hope it is finally seated. I really should have purchased the Cane Creek headset (sorry Chris), but I was running out of money to get the build completed.
I was feeling better on the climb from here then last month, but it was still not easy. I did feel better that there were still other riders around me on and off. I even passed one or two riders. This half of the trail was very dry compared to the other half. I was feeling better for the second half, but still not the way I should have felt. I ate more mustard for the whole ride then I should have needed, but I had cramps most of the day.
I had some good moments and some bad ones till the end. The wall didn’t seem as bad as last month, but I was too tired to ride as much of the rock section after as I did last time. Even all the way to the end I had people around me. This made me feel better, but knowing that they probably started a lot later then I did.
In the end, I am very happy that I pushed on and finished. When I did cross the line, I wanted nothing to do with a riding a bike, but that is starting to fade already. This is the most I have pushed myself since the Mohican 100k last year. There is just something about pushing yourself so far past what you think can be done.
I finished in a time of 5:46. It was not the fastest, but not the slowest either. I am sure if I actually ride a bike some before the next month, I can take some time off of that. Also, after looking at the profile, I could understand why I wanted to quit 6 miles in. It is almost all up hill from the start to there. It took a while, but the bike is mostly clean. I still need to get the chain looking better and tighter. My jersey has a few dirt stains and the white grips now have some shade of tan. I will have to see what the weather is does for next month to decide my route, but I would like to see how much time I can cut off of the 34 mile route. I am training for the Big Frog 65, so might as well do it right.