Monday, August 1, 2016

Big M XC

Brian and myself before the start
Things always start out with good intention. I was up on time to make the trek up to Big M in Manistee. 2.5 hours with a 12:30 start time. Not bad. I left the house just after 8am. 

When I arrived there was a DNR officer waiting with envelopes for the parking fee. I filled it out and chatted with Jimmy before heading to registration. Last time I was at Big M was last year. I was there for LJ100. A successful ride of 100 miles. Today, I was planning on about 18 miles and a fun day on the bike. I wandered to registration where I ran into Brian. We chatted for a few minutes and I headed back to the Suburban to get ready. 

Brian and I did a short warm up and headed to the start area. With temps in the low 70's it was a gorgeous day to ride. Little did I know what was coming.

Brian and his wave went....big group....16 people. Awesome to see more people racing. There was another class and then time for the Clydes. One thing I noticed was that there were 8 of us. Another thing I noticed was a guy that didn't appear to be anywhere near 200 pounds. Yet another is that I was by far the heaviest person in this class. Anyway.....8 people....not bad.

3, 2, 1 GO. Three people shot off the front. I dropped in behind 2 other guys in 6th. The pace wasn't bad and I was doing alright. Then the trail ticked upwards. Not a big hill. Just a little one. 7th and 8th passed me like I was sitting still and that newly formed group disappeared. My legs were like "ha're funny" when I tried to power up the hill. As I crested the hill  saw the group wasn't too far so I tried to close the gap. Never happened. Trail kicked upwards again on a super long, not steep, climb. Blown. My legs were blown up 2 miles into the race. I just didn't have anything. No power to put on the pedals. All the groups that started behind me were streaming past me like I had a flat tire. 

How would this be?
2 miles in...and I am done?

3 miles in and mentally I was already checked out. To say I went into survival mode is an understatement. A group of beginners caught me and I rode with them for a while. Then an awful crash. The guy at the front stalled and created a chain reaction behind him. #4 put a foot down....but there was nothing for his he stepped on the downhill side of the bike. He went down and took a woman down with him. Poor lady went tumbling down the hill like a sack of potatoes. I stopped and made sure they were okay, which they were, and then pressed on.

Before too long I was alone and struggling on even the tiny hills. Ugh....I could puke. Maybe I should. I wondered out loud if it would make me feel better. As the miles slowly rolled past I talked myself into being done. Cramps on the front line...ready to attack. Crazy headache. Stomach ready to erupt. I figured it was smarter to mail it in than it would be to continue and risk injury or some other illness.

I was reminded of Boyne a few years ago. I was miserable on my last lap when a guy caught me on a hill. He looked at me and said "sometimes you're the nail". It has stuck with me....and this ride reminded me that everyone can have a bad day on the bike. Setback? Not at all. Illness? Possibly. I was pretty miserable the rest of the night. I am feeling about 75% as I type this. During the race yesterday I was roughly a low 21%. 

So reality check. I am surely not a climber. I know this is not a secret. But I was hoping for a better result than a DNF at a trail where I had my biggest cycling success ( finishing LJ100). All I know for sure is that I will continue and hope for the best. The bad next race has "hills" in the title. 

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