It's funny how after an exciting event, the memories keep popping up randomly, for example, before you go to sleep, when you wake up, and when you are driving. That's what's happening to me these days. The bits and pieces during Boggs IV kept flashing back, which prompted me to write them down before they fade away.
Before the race: While Carlos, the director of the event, was making pre-race announcements to the racers lined up at the start, two dogs playing ran away with the ribbon marking the start line. Dang it, they got a head-start! I also found that I left my GPS on the charger at the cabin. Dang again, I might get lost!
Lap #1: I was in the fourth group to leave the start line with a few more starting behind us at 2-minute intervals. Topping out on Boggs Ridge Trail, hey, there was someone I knew! "Hi Daryl!" It's always good to see a familiar face. Throughout the lap, there were riders all around me. Wanna pass? No problem. Or, maybe I should just go a little faster. Before I knew it, I was back at the start line. Looking down at my stop watch, I had to blink my eyes twice to believe what I saw — 1 hour sharp. My brain started churning: "That's 10 minutes faster than I have ever done! What did Carlos say? The cut off for final return is 9 hours. That means I can fit eight laps in. Holy shmoly! That's two more than I have planned for (I only prepared six water bottles). Oh, well, I'll worry about that later. Where is my pit stop — the blue Tupperware container? Dang, I must have missed it. Oh well, my current bottle is still half full. I'll make sure to find it next time."
Lap #2: The line on the trails thinned out a little. Whew, I can relax a little now. This lap, I cleaned everything without dabbing. Yes, I should just take my time and pick my line. Feeling good. 1:01 for this lap on my watch. Not bad. Oh, there is my pit stop. Cool! "Hi Stephenie!" Erik already pulled two full bottles out of the container for me and they were sitting in front of the container. How sweet of him! I swapped the bottles and rode on.
Lap #3: Oh, Someone was calling my name behind me. It's Krishna! Holy shmoly, he already lapped me! Go Krishna! Go Mud 'n Crud! (Yes, until another team signs him up, he is on Mud 'n Crud team and he is our ringer.) Uh oh, I need to pee. But where? Oh, there is that vista point on the top of Boggs Ridge Trail. I'll pull over there. Okay, I'm close. Wait, the guy in front of me also pulled over. Obviously he had the same plan! Dang it, but I'm sticking to my plan. Guys can just pull over and do their business without getting off the bike. It's not that easy for us ladies, but this is where my skirt comes handy. Oh, this is not a thick bush, but WTHeck, I have my skirt. "Hello, nature!" That guy 20 feet away from me was chuckling with his back facing me. Yeah, I know. You are not used to it. But hey, this is a lot more personal space than when two rock climbers are on a 3 foot ledge hundred feet off the ground on a cliff. So, enjoy the distance. I picked up my bike and rode on without saying hi and bi — this is a moment when we should pretend we are invisible.
Lap #4: My right foot is going numb. Dang it, I must have tightened my shoe lace too tight. I don't want to stop to fumble with it. I'll just keep wiggling my toes and changing the angle. I can live with it. Oh, hey, who is that in front of me? That's my husband, Erik! Uh oh. That's not a good sign. He is supposed to be a stronger and faster rider than me. Me catching up with him is an indicator that something has gone wrong. Oh, he is a big boy and he'll handle it. "I love you, and bye!" I passed him and rode on.
Lap #5: Wow, half of the ride is behind me now. Suddenly, my legs started feeling a little heavy on the climbs. Oh, my granny gear, I love you! Wow, some riders are still going strong. They passed me at a speed as if they were still fresh. And almost all of them passed with enormous courtesy. I'm severely one-sided, so I usually feel uncomfortable when people pass me on my left side. Plus, we are out on dirt trails, so there are no cars on the left side and no curbs on the right, correct? Most people had no problem at all when I asked them to pass on the right side. Occasionally, a few would go, "On your left. Oh, right? Okay, thank you!" They rode on. One time (I think it was on Berry's Trail or maybe Crew), an interesting conversation took place. I heard someone coming up behind me fast, so I started scouting a spot for him to pass. A voice already came up to me, "On your left!" Hmmm… I don't think I'm very comfortable with the right side even though I know it's not that bad for good riders, so I replied, "You go right!" He was obviously taken aback by that reply, "What? Why don't YOU go right?" I couldn't come up with a smart ass answer to that question, so I choked, "uh…" The truth is, I'm not as good a rider as you are, and I see my line on the left and I'll stick to it. Plus, when did this become negotiable? Suddenly, we are at the little climb with one narrow hard-packed path in the middle of some loose rocks. Obviously, he did not feel comfortable to pass there, so he complained, "Oh, now you are really holding me back!" Thankfully, the climb was very short, and it opened up at the top. I slowed down and pulled to the left side and said, "Go, go!" I did not take it personally. Maybe he was racing for the win. The whole episode lasted no more than half a minute I think, but it made me wonder where this "passing on your left" stubbornness comes from. Roadies! (I have nothing against roadies, by the way.)
Lap #6: I'm having side stitches. Oh, yeah, it's the waist band of my tights digging into my stomach that's causing it. If I hold it with one hand, I feel immediate relief, but I can't ride this way! It took me two more laps of yoga breathing to make it go away. Probably a big gulp at the gel that Erik handed to me at the pit stop helped too. By now, he had stopped riding (after five laps) due to excruciating knee pain.
Lap #7: I don't know who this guy was, but he was talking to me from behind. "You are still grinding away? You must be riding solo! I think I've seen you a few time. Good job!" Oh, thank you! It's always good to hear encouraging words. Okay, here I am again, at the fire road climb after Crew Trail. Hmmm… Why am I feeling tired? That's okay. Bear Bones Trail is an easy climb, and after that, it's all sweet rolling and downhill. I so look forward to it. And suddenly, I'm done with Lap #7. I still have more than one hour and half before the final cut off. Erik told me that I already won. But, I still have one more lap to go to meet my goal — ride as much as possible. I did not stop to take the bottle from him because mine is still half full. Riding on.
Lap #8: Yes, this is the last time I'll see every part of this course. I love this course and all, and I feel fine enough to ride further still, but I think I've had enough of this particular course for today. I'm glad that this is the last lap now. Is Coolest 24 at Boggs going to use the same course? That's just insane! Okay, I should think pleasant thoughts. What are they going to feed us for dinner? Pasta? That sounds good. Actually, anything sounds good right now. Wow, there is nobody in front of me and behind me! So quiet! I love it! I'm close to the finish line now. I can see the crowd and I can hear them too. I've gotta look good. Okay, smile! Now, stand up and look strong! There, I crossed the finish line at 8 hours and 32 minutes! Erik came up to give me an enthusiastic high five. Ouch, my hand hurt upon impact, but we both had a big grin on the face.
Post-race: Do you know how a mud worm moves around — at a steady pace. My eight laps were all within 5 minutes of each other. I think I lived up to my name pretty well. I was glad that we brought our twin camp chair. After the pasta dinner, we bundled up and got comfortable sipping hot water out of our mugs. Carlos’s voice was loud and clear out of the speakers. And he kept the crowd engaged. We woo-ahh'ed at the winners. To me, the most impressive winners were those from the Men’s Masters 50+. They walk at a mud worm’s pace, but they sure ride fast! My name was called. There I was, standing on a podium for a sport event first time in my life! (I had a couple of 2nds running or biking in the past couple of years, but for various reasons, no podium was involved). I met my goal and beat my expectation! At 5′4″, I felt tall standing on the podium.
P.S. I know, I said "Dang" or "Dang it" too many times. But this was an emotional event for me, and Erik does not allow me to cuss. So here you have it, Dang it!
P.P.S. I also have another post on this race.
This picture my friend forwarded to me from Facebook has me in the front (#377):