Monday, November 4, 2013

BT EPIC 2013

Two Magnificent Konas headed to The BT Epic

The morning AFTER the BT Epic I woke up holding my stomach and trying to figure out where I was.  I was in the back of my car, swaddled in blankets and laying in a pool of sweat.  Within seconds of waking my husband peeks in the window and quickly hands me some coffee.  Hold on, wait a second.....It takes several seconds for me to piece it all together.  It was just a dream. Whew!  I told Jim of the dream I just woke up from.... I was in (our) Dr Williams office and he was telling me it was okay for me to ride pregnant. Wow! The BT Epic never disappoints.

Arriving early Friday evening never works for us.... We get there when we get there. Registration, as always, is a breeze.  I was checked in as number 193, handed some sweet socks and a lotto/schwag ticket for Saturday sfter the awards.  Browsing the tables there was a LOT of awesome gear to choose from.  Everything from Garmin 800's to bike pumps.  They were also giving away 10 bikes.  Crazy cool huh?

Weekend captured beautifully (photo J. Davis)
Jim had made our bed in the back of the Subie before we left home so we would have time to visit with friends.  It didn't take long for us to find a friendly roaring campfire.  After a couple beers and some great conversation, we searched and found the perfect place to park and sleep.

Morning always comes too quickly on race day.  I do not sleep well the night before big rides/races, however this morning I felt well rested.  Good thing 'cuz I was going to need it.  As I forced down a couple pancakes I though about my goal for the day.  I decided on "surviving with no blood loss".  I was confident I could pull that off.

Wearing my Harden the F*ck Up bracelet

As I positioned myself toward the middle/ back of the pack for this race/ride I was asked, "Did you do this last year", to which I replied "no, it's been two years for me".  That is when IT happened!  I started researching my mind.... when was the last time I rode at least 57 miles on my mountain bike? Hmmmm. This isn't what I had planned, not what I had envisioned when I was signed up.  Either way, my riding was consistent.  I was missing the LONG piece of it. Oh shit, what am I doing here?  Within minutes I was pedaling and there was no turning back.  The gravel climb, several miles, strings the 300 cyclists out a bit before we hit the singletrack.  My legs are awake now, I hope I picked the right gear.

The weather was a bit chilly, almost made me miss my extra fat layers.  Pedal faster to stay warm I kept repeating.  By the time I reached the singletrack I was more than warmed up, yet only to get cold again on the downhills.  (This was a constant battle all freaking day)   Despite the weather ups and downs, I felt comfortable with my pace and positive vibes of finishing were firmly placed in my head.  The Ozark and Berryman Trail's can be quite challenging if you lack skillz or have a shitty attitude.  Lucky for me I brought some newly acquired skillz and of course a superior attitude.  

My magnificent Kona Big Unit, geared at 32x20, was in perfect shape to handle the miles. I was sporting Specialized Ground Controls, tubeless, LOVE THEM. (blog review coming) Since my frame is equipped with only one bottle cage, I wore a small Camelbak with about 45oz in it on my back.  It's a lot easier for me to drink from a tube than worry about losing or dropping my fuel bottle,  this worked well. A mountain feed bag on my bars carried my bike tools and emergency bonking supplies.

Sweet singletrack (photo J.Davis)

I have to tell ya.... I felt amazing on the singletrack.  I haven't ridden here in two years and I remember walking a shitload of it.  This year not so much.  In fact, I rode damn near everything!  I rode a lot of technical stuff through folks who had hopped off to walk.  I rode that steep rooty shit and wasn't scared and even liked it.  Truth is.... I have been working on riding technical, rocky, rooty stuff this year.  What's awesome is seeing it pay off!!  And not being frightened makes it taste even sweeter.  My hubby rode behind me for a bit and gave me props, then he dropped my ass and beat me by 15 minutes, whatever.

I was happy to have landed among the "cool kids" in the race. We were all fighting for survival at the back of the pack.  I ran into this guy wearing a Maplewood jersey who says " don't you remember me Wendy"  It took me a minute but I remembered him from Syllamos revenge, that was a mutha. We spent the better part of that race hopping each other.  By the time we hit that grueling 6 mile climb and those slippery stairs we had gotten to know each other rather well.  Anyways, Buck it was nice riding with you, again.  There were about 20 women and 275 men registered, I did not see any women after mile 20.  The fellas I rode with were very nice and extremely supportive.  They did not have a problem if I wanted by and even let me take the downhills first.  That right there made my day.  Seriously, I bombed those downhills, hell, I even pedaled down, something I have only recently gained confidence in.  It has taken me five years to get here and I can tell ya I am hella proud to be here.  I took corners with speed and without brakes!  Can I get a HELLYEA!?!

Around mile 30 my body gave me the finger. It was revolting in the worst way. I felt I was going to burst, stuff coming out of both ends. Not good.  I kept pushing, it pushed back.  The one thing I hate to do more than anything is throw up, and here it was coming up my throat.  I could taste the bile rising as I continued to pedal. Oh Geez, what is worse, throwing up or shittting yourself?  STOP! my mind screamed.  My head started to spin... so I stopped.  My breathing was whacked, totally whacked out, I had sweat running down my face and I was cold.  WTF was going on?  Is this what it feels like to fall apart?  Am I bonking? Anxiety started to rise.  Can I get myself out of this?  I kept walking until those feelings passed and drank and nibbled on my Payday bar.  I was able to get back on only to have this feeling lay me out two more times before the finish.  I can only describe it as going to the "darkside".  To have everything hurt, your world is spinning, you are not be able to breathe, you feel either too hot or too cold, to be so uncomfortable all you want to do is vomit or shit yourself.... and all I have in my mind is to keep pedaling, forget the rest.  I was able to get myself together, only to come across this feeling two more times.  I hopped off the bike, drank and ate until I calmed down. Luckily, I did not toss my cookies.

Around mile 50 I went to a dark place, a very dark place. My nind was filled with black clouds, my thoughts were not very nice. To rub salt in the wound....  I could see the gravel road from the singletrack, it was like it was teasing me.  Soon I would be on gravel, that meant about 5 miles to go.  I like gravel, don't mind riding it one bit. HOWEVER, I prefer to be on my cross bike. Pedaling those last miles was excruciating.  Spin, spin, spin.  I was alone the entire ride back.  I took out my Ipod at this point, hoping it would cheer me up and get me to the finish quicker.  I heard there was beer there and I totally deserve one or two or several.

As I crossed the finish line Jim handed me a beer and gave me a hug.  I had survived, stayed upright, did not have any mechanicals, and lost no blood.  I call that a successful day!

Each participant was given a lotto ticket, very simply if your number is called you get to pick a prize.  I felt super lucky.  The first winner picked the Garmin 500.  The second winner picked the Kuat Rack.  The third winner was my husband.  He hooted and hollered his way up and chose the Garmin 800 with all the bells and whistles.  What a super prize!!! and I can't think of anyone elses who deserves it more than the Trail MOnster.

We went for a hike the next morning to stretch our legs and take in some amazing Fall views.  Thanks for knowing where all the cool places are babe.