|I hope this all fits in the bag|
Jeff Yielding put this two day gravel race, The Tour Of Hermann, out there in late 2012. I wanted to sign up immediately but life has a way of getting in the way of me doing cool stuff so, I could not commit until the last minute. I secured a sitter for Saturday and got myself / bike together. I have had the pleasure of riding Hermann gravel before and am aware of those fuggin' hills. Some of them are ridiculous. I was going anyway, it would be good to see where I am at in my training. Plus, I knew Jeff would not disappoint as he puts his heart and soul into every production.
Rolling into the parking lot at Stone Hill Winery I saw smiling volunteers and several familiar faces and like-minded peeps. My heart started to thump wildly! I get to ride my bike. Yay! I had plenty of time to get changed and prepare for the ride. My hubby took the day to go kayaking with friends which made me feel a bit out of sorts. We usually travel together and meet up during the rides or after. A few of my Seagalmates were in attendance, which was good since I forgot to put on deodorant. ( Thanks Coach)
I checked in, picked up my race number, maps, t-shirt, and WON a bottle of wine. I picked red. I was also handed a mason jar to put gravel in. Cool idea! I wanted to be a social butterfly but I really needed to get my shit together and get my head right. This was going to be a long day with a huge effort.
My bike had a brand spankin' new saddle and a re-fit at the HUB Bicycle Co making it ready to go. I organized my fuel choices and bottles to make a quick transition between loops. I thought I was ready...
|Thanks to The Hub Bicycle Co|
Race time came and Jeff gave us some necessary instructions. He also mentioned that the farmers would be out today cutting grass and mabe tilling and planting, we should give them a wave. Oh crap, I forgot to take my allergy pill. This could get interesting.
There were roughly 70 of us lined up to kick some gravel ass. I hoped it wasn't going to be the gravel kicking my ass instead. A truck led us out onto the road portion and we followed it until we were dumped onto the Katy. The front group was a little faster than I was feeling so I fell off the back. Alone. I kept pedaling and enjoyed the scenery.
|Let's get this gravel party started|
The course was marked well, the weather was decent, my bike felt "right" and my legs felt good. I made a new friend, a fella named John. He was on a single speed and informed me he had signed up this year to do the Dirty Kanza. He was speaking my language. We were going to get along just fine. I informed him that I have been there, done that, and was also going back for more this year. I answered his questions while we pedaled. Time flew by as we chatted. We both wanted to meet the cut-off to go out on Loop 3, which we heard was 2:30pm. Totally doable! That is if you don't get lost....
|Dan Singer Photography|
Somewhere about mile 25 we made a wrong turn. Many others did do to we weren't alone in our error. Getting lost can suck the life right out of ya, if you let it. I was not going to let it, stay positive and keep going, think bonus miles. However, those 5 bonus miles cost me time, time I had not factored in. Fuck.
|Dan Singer estimated me at 45mph here|
John and I quickly refueled and headed out on Loop 2, this loop was super hard, lots more hills which meant some steep downhills. I haven't ridden gravel even close to this since DK back in June 2012, I hoped for the best. John and I got separated about 10 miles in and I was all alone. I brought along my Ipod in case I needed it, good thing because I need it NOW. My mind started to screw with me and I needed the negative voices to shut up. I heard "there are so many people in front of you, you are so slow, why do you do this anyway" and " why are you pedaling so slow, what is wrong with you" and "I think you are lost again". I hate it when my mind starts to melt, it's rare but it does happen on occasion. My music helped a bit, I still felt like I was pedaling in quicksand and didn't see anyone. I started to get worried and checked my map. Shit, I think I should have turned at the highway about 4 miles back. I screamed at the top of my lungs. What the hell!!! How could I be so stupid to not consult the map, wait a minute I did follow the map but my mileage was off by 5 or so miles and I couldn't wrap my head around my mistake.
|Dan Singer takes awesome photos|
I had no idea what time it was, I was sure I wouldn't make the cut off. Now I was extremely pissed at myself and kinda scared. Where the hell was I? I started to head back the way I came. After a few miles I saw bikers coming down the hill I was climbing. John was with them. He had gotten a flat tire and wasn't prepared, he will NEVER do that again. I was exasperated and wild eyed by now. I had to inform these guys they were lost too. Turns out... I wasn't lost and roughly five miles from the finish. I should have kept pedaling. Grrrr. It was myself and five? guys now high tailing it to the finish. Someone in the group mentioned the cut off was 3:30 not 2:30. It was going to be close. Pedal, Pedal.
I pedaled as fast as I could to keep up with them. I was the last in line when we reached town and kept an eye on traffic to keep us safe. I yelled 'CAR" like a pro. I even said something like " so you guys let the bitch hang on, I will be the first to go down if a driver gets squirrely". As we approached the HILL into the winery I hear GO WENDY!! Damn, I was going to walk that hill. Cory's loud mouth drew everyone's attention to the guys and me climbing up that sadomasochistic hill, I had to push through it. I stood up and gave it everything I had when Cory yelled " Are you going to let those guys beat you". In that moment, I hated her and loved her. A couple of them got me, a few didn't.
As we rolled in to the check point Jeff said "Wendy, are you going for another?" WTF? I made it in time? Yup, the cut-off was 3:30. I had plenty of time to refuel and get out there. Sasha was ready and would have gone. ( My alter ego is so awesome) The problem... Wendy is a MOM. Wendy needed to get home to two kids and relieve my sitter, whom she would be using again in two weeks. I needed to drive my self home about an hour and half away, ALONE. Sasha could have cared less. It was like having a good angel and the devil on my shoulders, fighting back and forth. Sasha fought hard but in the end... Wendy is responsible, I had to quit. The words "NO Jeff" tasted awful but was the right thing to do.
|That was rough|
I cleaned up and headed home, head hung low. I put on my Pabst cowboy hat and tried to cheer up.
I DNF'd. I don't do that. I always finish, it's not pretty buy I always finish. I knew I made the right decision when I pulled up and my daughter and nephew were excited to see me and help me get my stuff out of the car. I had made it in time to have dinner with them and tuck them in.
Sasha will be back for Cedar Cross! She will have a driver and a sitter for the duration.... however long it takes.