Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Exercise in Ecstatic Exhaustion

I looked up the word 'rapture' and found it to mean" the state of mind resulting from feelings of high emotions, joyous ecstasy ". Reading that had me sign up for the 12 hr solo at RIM. This would be my second 12 hr, on a course I had only heard about. Knowing this was a Team Seagal favorite race only sealed the deal. I was ready to experience rapture, but the in misery part left me confused. I did not realize how true these words would be.

Jim and I headed to Crowder State park Fri afternoon. We watched a huge storm develop from the Hwy., just before we reached Trenton. It was unfortunate that the storm was headed in the same direction. After driving over 4 hours, we set up our tent and canopy in the rain while observing the lightning. I was not prepared for this. It turned cold quick and I wished I had packed some jeans and a hoodie. No kidding. What effect would this rain have on the trail? We were assured it would drain well. I hope so.
While enjoying frothy beverages with Mitch the Mashor we listened to Greg Ott snore and talked about everything bike. Around 1030 I was ready to turn in. A short time later our teammates, Storm and Coach, rolled up. Coaches fiancee, Ashley was in tow to cheer us on and stay level headed so we could document it later. Around 11 pm, Jason Pryor and Gunshow Busken , joined our tent city. Apparently the Holtmans got a late start and a hotel room. SMART.

Waking up to a cool morning led us to assume it would be a nice day to ride for 6 or 12 hours. Never assume. By the noon time start I swear it was 110 degrees under my helmet. The humidity was off the charts. What was my goal again?

After a short run to the bikes, RIM was underway. Jim was doing the 6 hr, so I new it would be at least 6 hours before I saw him again. After completing Lap #1, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and realized that I may not possess the effort that was going to be required here. I flipped the switch to survival mode early and just tried to keep a sustainable pace for the next 10 plus hours. I also threw out the 9 lap goal.

I wanted to throw in the towel after 1 lap. I remembered that we drove 4 hours and I did pay $55 to do this, so I wiped my forehead with the towel and pressed on. The desire was still there and sometimes thats all you need to get you through.

Connor, my bike, was in great shape, except when the brakes started making a loud shrieking noise. This scared the hell outta me, especially on that water bar descent. Storm assured me " as long as your not losing power you are good".Damn! I could not pull out after 2 laps and cry bike mechanical. Keep pedaling. It did help that the faster solo riders were passing me and offering encouragement. Stoney, from TRW, tried to sneak up on me and smack me on the ass like usual, but I heard him squeaking before I saw him. I was prepared this time.
I made sure to sip on my Sustained Energy, which is really gross when its warm. I filled my 50 oz. camelback with ice every stop. It kept my back cooler and was quite refreshing to sip on while the ice melted. That in itself kept me going. The aid station at the dam was manned by the best volunteers I have encountered. The music was loud and the lights were bright at night. I do not try new things during a race and would not encourage anyone else to. However, the orange Gatorade saved my life. I never drink this stuff. I am rethinking that. I could fit the small bottle in my bra and it helped to keep me cooler. Plus , I really did not have anywhere else to put it and I could grab it easily.

Lap#4 is a blur. Heading out for this lap I finally noticed the huge timing screen set up . I was in 4th place. " Whatever, just ride" is what my mind told me. I remind myself I do not do this for hardware. { Although trophies are nice, I only need the pain in my legs as my satisfied reward. I also thought of Bob Jenkins, who was hopefully still in the game at the Leadville 100. I knew he was struggling also. As if on cue, Christine Ford rolls up behind me and says " I hear your not feeling well" Understatement!! She then says " Not giving up is the sign of a champion" Under my breathe I say" or a dumbass". I am thankful she said that. I replayed it over and over the next few laps.

Lap#5 I was greeted by Jim holding out a can of chicken noodle soup. He wont admit it , but I believe he stopped his race to help me. I am lucky he supports me even thought he may not get why I do it. On this lap I learned how to throw up and keep pedaling. Its easier than I thought . Stopped again to get more Gatorade. I hope this stays down. It is on Lap #6 that I change socks, shoes , and my jersey. I did not have the luxury of a shower and a fresh kit after each lap like some people I know!!! The NightRider lights I borrowed from Gino were attached by Storm and I was off. Why was I still doing this? Was this fun? It was not fun. It hurt a lot. Finishing Lap 6 was going to take everything I had and I wasnt even going to enjoy it. The air was cooler now, chilly,cold sweat is not easy to get used to after you have baked all day. The trail was pitch black by now. After completing 8 plus hours of riding I felt I deserved a full night lap. I wanted to see if I rode the trail any differently. I was right, I did. This lap was both the most fun and the most painful. I had to dig deep since the start of this race. What I was getting in return was totally worth it. Several of you know what I am talking about. I got " the rapture". Did you? I also got the misery part.

I rolled in at 11pm more than ready for a Pabst. I was satisfied and in need of a shower. My legs had been covered in mud since lap 1. I let the mud act as a sunscreen and insect repellant . You know , like the pigs do. It worked, dont knock it till you try it.The after party went on until about 3am. I dont remember anything.

Ps. I did get a Garmin Forerunner 101 as my prize. The women were picked first for the podium. That was really nice!


  1. So happy for you! Tenacity = wendy aka sasha.

  2. Way to persevere! That race was brutal.

    You got lucky my front brake was squeaking, but I'll get you next time.

  3. Ha, ha...the whole calculus of racing....you hurt, you wanna quit, but if you stick it through, good things usually happen. Congrats on the podium (savor every one you make) and the cool prize - Forerunner, eh? You gonna buy some new Brooks runners? lol.