Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

As I stood at the start/finish, I ran a few things over in my mind - I did all I could do to be here - I deserved to ride and have a good outcome - I put in many hours on the Major One. I was strong now. Seven laps would be tough. But I was ready this time. I had planned for everything - I would not fail.
Kevin Bonney agreed to be my pit crew. Karma baby! I had trail karma built on this very trail. I put in a lot of time here and learned how to ride 90% of this trail. As the smoke bombs were lit I said out loud "YOU WILL NOT QUIT"

The first lap is the hardest. Races are won and lost here. Frustration and tension are abundant. Its tough to pass and someone usually has a mechanical. I recall seeing two flats and two broken chains in the first couple miles.
Someone also pissed off some hornets - Myself and several others found this out the hard way. Over and over I was stung by the same hornet. He was stuck in between my legs.... I stopped to check everything out at mile 4 - the climb. Reached for my fuel bottle. It had bounced out.
This was going to be a rough day.

I started feeling squirrely around the rock garden and took a hard spill. The last climb destroyed me. I was just under two hours. My plan was to do steady 140's. I had already failed on lap 1. I replaced my fuel bottle. Topped off my superior state of mind. I did not want to seem like a wuss so I did not mention the sting.
Bad move.
It turns out, when you are stung by a hornet/wasp/bee, they shoot venom straight into your system. Everyone handles it differently - then it swells and itches something awful. My system did not like this at all. I felt drained, had trouble breathing, and picked a lot of bad lines.
At Enough, Storm's wife gave me some DayQuil - Lap 2 took about 2:10. I walked the entire last climb. Kevin looked worried so I told him the truth. He found the medic, Eddie, who gave me ice + Benadryl. I dont think he was happy when I told him I was going back out. He knew he couldnt stop me. He also knew he would see me later - in about 8 hours.
I changed my kit, which totally changed my attitude, ate some chicken noodle soup, and pressed on. It was still early - I can do 6.

Kevin wanted to try out his new 29er prototype so he accompanied me on Lap 3. I know he just wanted to keep an eye on me. The lap was hard, the Benadryl kicked in and so did the yawns. Kevin pep talked me through the whole lap. I finally got my smile back at mile 7. I did take one hard spill on the right side during this lap. Luckily I didn't really feel it until hours later.
Lap 4 was a roller coaster. I would feel great for a while, and then terrible - up and down. The caffeine in the GU's helped counter the drowsiness I felt. I drank a Starbucks cold coffee before heading out on this lap in hopes my energy would return. I heard about lots of mechanicals and some bodily injuries. It turned out that some fella smashed his face, another his tibia, another his foot, several had holes poked in their hands and legs from bad rock landings, and that Mia had snapped her wrist. I survived lap 4 and still wanted to do 2 more. Kevin attached my light to my helmet and off I went into the darkness. Damn, it was really dark.

On lap 5 I tried to make peace with myself. I guess others would have quit by now. I was told I had nothing to prove to anyone. I did not agree. I felt like I was letting my team down. Letting myself down. I guess if I had any bike issues i could have used that as an excuse. I had zero mechanicals, no flats, Connor was perfect. Farinella magic! As I walked the first climb, Busken stopped to walk with me. His day had not gone as planned either.
We stopped at the Team Seagal tent to drink a Pabst and celebrate what we did accomplish. It was then that I decided this would be it. I was riding everything for the last time. I would take my time and roll in with a huge smile. I got to talk with Mashor around mile 7 . He said he wanted to finish with me. I convinced him to go and finish without me.

At the spillway I fell hard. Very hard. It happened so quickly that I could not clip out on the right side. I fell over with my right shoe still attached to my bike. I was in shock. I had fallen on my left arm. It felt wet. I couldn't see it. Fear entered my mind. With less than 4 miles left... please, no blood. Every rock and root I rode over shot pain throughout my body. At the last climb, my teammate Nico graced me with his presence. I had him look at my arm. He very calmly said "Sasha - we are gonna walk this last climb together" When we reached the cardboard dude I got on my bike to ride out that last piece. Absolutely mind-numbing pain. I had a huge goose egg on my elbow, that I could not see, but from everyones reaction I understood it was something impressive. After a shower, the medic worked his magic once more and wrapped me with ice.
The after party was off the chains. Thanks to friends my cup was never empty. After the awards the party moved to several campsites.
And as you know - What happens at Burnin', stays at Burnin'
I am not going to pretend I am not disappointed . I planned for everything except to fail. It will suck to wait a year to get a do over. On the positive side, I heal real quick and there is still one race left . The BT EPIC. There will be no goals and no expectations this year. Its just a ride.

I am still struggling with this.... If i had not followed my mind I would not be battered and bruised right now. If I had quit my body would be okay. However, my mind would absorb the suffering. Did I make the right choice?


  1. Sounds like a rough day. But two good things about the day.... You were surrounded by good friends that gave you the support you needed, and you didn't quit despite all the obstacles. Great Job! See you at the BT Epic.

  2. Security does not exist in nature...Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. - Helen Keller

    You survived a great many tests. Soldier on, Wendy!

  3. I know it's hard because it's all still so fresh, but hopefully in a couple of weeks (or months) you'll be able to look back at this as a personal victory. That's how I see it. To me it was an amazing ride of courage and mental toughness... one which mere mortals would have quit. But not you.

    You should be proud. Congrats on one helluva a race! Seriously, you did an amazing job regardless of the outcome. And isn't that why we do it all anyway? Again, Great job!