Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tumbling Creek 6 Hour

The Tumbling Creek 6 Hour was originally scheduled for Saturday. We had a party scheduled for Isabel and her friends on Saturday, so I'd written it off, but bad weather all week pushed the race to Sunday, and woohoo! it was back on the schedule.

On the one hand, racing is fun. On the other hand, my ribs are still busted from Unicoi and I've been preparing for the race by getting sick, pigging out for 2 weeks and not riding. It could be ugly.

The line-up was stacked with the usual suspects, but everyone was playing an odd role. Russell was working in the timing tent. Johnny was on a team with Travis. Matt and Vonnie were pitting. Only Baldwin and Ursula were in character, racing solo.

The ugliness began with 38 degree weather and a LeMans start. Ie. running around a lake before getting on your bike. I hike a lot, but that's not the same as running. I really didn't want to run in my bike shoes, or with pockets full of stuff, so I wore my trail shoes, and put my bike shoes, helmet and all my crap by my bike, which, in retrospect, wasn't the best plan. I was dead last leaving the start. Annnd... I'd stolen the seat off of my road bike last night, but didn't get it adjusted right, so like a minute later I had to stop and fix that. I made it better, but not great. All day I was sitting slightly off the back, and now I have a knot in my left butt which might go away, or if I'm lucky, might become an epic saddle sore. We'll see.

At any rate. Lap 1 and 2 were fun, I made my way through the crowd, picking off riders left and right, but my ribs hurt pretty bad. Around lap 3 the rest of me started hurting and my ribs just sort of blended into that. The rest was a blur. I sketched pretty bad twice. The greenway sections were muddy. The trail has nine million exposed roots.

Vonnie was all "go Muse!" every time I came around. Matt gave me food and water. It's good to have friends.

At Tumbling Creek, you climb and descend, but neither are long and neither are steep. You're always on the gas. No rest. Even so, I had energy all day, but toward the end everything hurt and I had to fight with myself about using said energy.

I also realized today, that for the first few laps, there are spectators, photographers, and course marshals out there, all interested in how you're doing, all encouraging. Toward the end, they're gone, the course is empty, even the riders are spread out. When you're at your lowest, you are also at your loneliest.

It was 38 degrees when I started and 78 at the end. 40 degrees! There is no way to dress for that.

All of this is ugly. 9 laps ugly though, which was fine with me.

Baldwin bailed after 6, so for the first time in history, I actually beat him racing.



Johnny gave me a coke. 20 minutes later I felt alright.

I may be addicted to racing. When I look for words to objectively describe today's experience, "pain" comes to mind. Just pain. I mean, it was fun until it hurt, and it was gratifying to be able to push it that hard, but if I had to describe it in 200 words, the first 198 would be pain, and the last 2 would be fun and gratifying. And yet I'm drawn to it.

Post race I drove around the back and walked over to the wetland pavillion and relax a bit.

 Tumbling Creek Wetland Pavillion


 Tumbling Creek Wetland

Walking back to my car, I saw some dude checking it out, looking inside. He caught sight of me walking toward him and took off down the street kind of fast, but also trying to act nonchalant. I waved to him as I drove by and he turned his head so I couldn't see his face. Naughty, naughty.

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