Saturday, March 19, 2011

Conyers 6 Hour

In an ideal world, this would be a journal entry about hiking the Escalante Route in Colorado. My brother is finishing that up right about now. I had plans to go with him, but when my job disintegrated a while back, I really had to choose between it and the Huracan. The Huracan was logistically easier, so it was an easy choice, but I'm more than a little bummed that I couldn't go.

Such is life though - full of trade-offs. In this case, not being in Colorado meant that I could ride the Conyers 6 hour. Ok, let's do that.

I was tired last night, so I'd planned on heading to bed early and getting up early to get my gear together. Then, suddenly I realized I needed to wash my bike clothes, and ended up getting all my gear together while they were washing. Apparently there was some sort of minor divine intervention involved there, as this morning my alarm didn't go off and I woke up early enough to get to the race, but not early enough to get my gear together. Score.

I usually like to eat at Waffle House before one of these things, but there was no time for that either. Gas station bagels for me.

I saw lots of bikes on the drive over. Lots.


They were everywhere. It looked like I was heading in the right direction, but then when I got there, for a minute, I did question whether I was really in the right place. There were dozens of runners with number plates on their jerseys, jogging around, getting ready, warming up. It was the South African candy aisle all over again. Quickly though, it began to make sense. Dirty Spokes was having a trail running race there prior to the bike race. Just beyond the runners, it looked a lot more like I expected.


I saw everybody in the world that I know. Too many people to name. Maybe I should mention a few. I saw Sunny, but she was there without Russell. I also saw what appeared to be Travis' old bike, but somebody else was riding it. I randomly ended up pitting with Chris Brown. Randomly because I set up my gear in a chair in an empty spot, and the guy next door said he was trying to save that spot for his buddy, but I was welcome to put my chair there. His buddy ended up being Chris Brown. Smallest world ever.

Ok. So. The race.

Lap 1 was fun. We had a long start on a gravel road that spread everybody out pretty well and I was able to get what seemed like reasonably close to the front. Right as we went into the woods, there was a tricky little downhill thing. Two guys stopped abruptly in front of Carebear, and if you've ever tried to trackstand, downhill, half-wheeling the guy in front of you, you can understand how futile such a thing is. He went down, all the way down, tumbling 30 feet down the side of a pretty steep hill. Then I saw him pop up and start climbing back up with a pretty frustrated look on his face, but otherwise unharmed. You can't kill the Carebear. The rest of the lap was uneventful. The course was wild. Chainbusters has a knack for taking trails I've ridden 50 times and creating an unrecognizable route through them. It was like I was riding somewhere else. They included some of the horse trails too, which, except for a few hoof prints, were narrow, smooth, luxurious, and otherwise very un-horse-trail-like. It might just have been me, but it seemed like they managed to extract about twice as much climbing out of the new route as well.

Lap 2 was also fun, except that Bill Riddle passed me. Either he's getting stronger or I'm getting weaker. Maybe both. It is early in the season, I've been getting a maximum of 6 hours of sleep each night for weeks, I didn't get to do anything last weekend at all, the pear and cherry trees are blooming, the group rides don't start until next week and as yet I haven't figured out how to commute to my new office. Yeah, I'll go with that list of excuses.

Lap 3 was work, but I was stunned to find myself without anything even vaguely resembling a cramp. I did pass Shane Shreihart in need of a power link. "Oh, I have one..." No. I didn't have one. It was sitting in a baggie back at my chair. Dangit.

Lap 4 was also work, and I managed to forgot to pick up my powerlink. I did have a little bit of cramping in my hamstrings, which is really weird. I never get hamstring cramps. Who knows. I also managed to get a stick wrapped up around my cassette. I pulled it out, got going and it felt like I had two flat tires. For about a mile, I thought my brake was dragging. I pulled it a few times. No. Well, maybe my wheel wasn't tight and it was moving around. I stopped, checked that, it was fine, but I noticed that another little stick had gotten jammed up in my derailleur cage, dragging on both jockey pulleys. When I pulled that out, it was like I was riding a whole new bike. Onward.

As I left for lap 5, I did manage to grab the bag with the powerlink, and check the time: 3:29. As in, I've been riding for 3 hours, 29 minutes. Not that it was 3:29 in the afternoon and I only had 30 more minutes to ride. It took me a second to figure that out. I had time for 2 more laps, but not 3. About halfway around, the hurt set in, big time. I'm not sure why, except maybe that it was "hot". I say "hot" instead of hot without quotes because it was maybe 85 degrees, but seeing as it's been in the 60's for a while now, 85 felt like touching the face of the sun. Norma passed me about 3/4ths of the way around. I can usually gauge my fitness by when she passes me, which is usually in lap 5, so I felt good about it until she said she was doing the 9 hour race, not the 6 hour. So, maybe my fitness wasn't so good. Tim Winters got behind me for a while, and at first I thought it was Wild Bill (Riddle) lapping me because of the crazy hollering he did when he first rolled up. Tim, you're crazy.

Lap 6 was pure suffering. I only even did it out of pure cycling addiction. I had no energy. The slow, gradual bonk was creeping in. I didn't have any more cramps though, so at least I had that going for me. About halfway through, Mitch of South Georgia Cycling passed me. He was on his 5th lap though. At the time, I could not comprehend the physics of that. He passed me with authority. It might have been on that lap, or maybe Lap 5 where Josh Vandall also passed me with such authority that it was upsetting. Neither of them were in my class, but I probably lost 3 places during that lap, at least. Ten minutes later, Mitch was knocked out on the side of the trail with a broken chain, and some good samaritan giving him a hand. Now having a powerlink, I threw him my baggie. Speaking of riders knocked out on the side of the trail, I must have passed 10 or 15 riders just stopped, cooling off or otherwise taking a break. The heat was really a factor on those last two laps.

Done. And it hurt. And it hurts right now. I think it's going to hurt a long time.

There's a gang of spigots in the middle of the field at Conyers and I poured cool water on my head for a few minutes. Indescribable luxury. It could only have been more luxurious if I'd had a lawn chair to recline in while somebody else poured cool water on my head.

Back at camp, Chris had come in, taken a seat and all but refused to keep going. I'm not sure if he ever did. He was describing how he felt. I felt exactly the same way. Everything hurt. Every cell. The cells in my head especially. It felt like I had either an under or over abundance of something in my body and I needed to either add more or get rid of some, but I couldn't tell what it was. I definitely had an over abundance of pain, but unfortunately pain is not a chemical.

While waiting for the results, I laid down on the ground and put my feet up on the end of the table. Again, indescribable luxury. Suddenly, Bill Lanzilotta appeared above me "Did you survive?" "Uhh.." and then he grabbed one of my feet and said "Push against it" then slowly bent my leg in an arc toward my head. Oh, man that felt good. I pushed against it, and he did the other one too. "Man that feels good, where'd you learn that." "It's a great stretch." And bam! he was gone. I never saw him again. Whatever it was, it hit the reset button in my legs and I was up and about directly.

The SGC boys gave me coke, and I met Brian Lord's family, including his three month old twins. His son was sleeping, but his daughter was up, looking all around with that intensely curious look little kids have, while also trying desperately to control her muscles. Brian, you've got some really cute kids man, nice job.

I talked to some the GATR guys - Dave Greenwell and one of his friends who's name I should know. They joked about me losing Tim's GPS. Tim had apparently been insane and almost incomprehensible on one of his earlier pit stops, but he rolled up while I was talking to them and now seemed fine. He has a new GPS now too.

Bill Riddle got 1st in his class. If Josh Fix didn't, then the guy that beat him must have been a cyborg sent from the future just to beat him. I didn't hang around for the awards. My brain was screaming for gas station food and I couldn't ignore it any longer. I got 10th. Out of 18. Hey, top 10, right?

My seat officially needs replacement. It's fine on the road bike, but I can't get used to it on the mountain bike. I like the shape, it just needs a little more padding. Maybe such a thing exists.

So earlier, I mentioned pear and cherry trees. I am allergic to both. It's not so bad that it keeps me from doing stuff, but it's bad enough to keep me from wanting to do stuff, and bad enough to make me do stuff poorly, like having a low grade cold for a couple of weeks. Pear and cherry trees thrive in Atlanta and people plant them everywhere. They are beautiful.

 Cherry Trees

Pear trees have little white flowers with little green buds in the middle. Cherry trees have little white flowers with little red buds in the middle. Cherry blooms a little later than pear. They shed their petals like snow when the wind blows. To most people, they are beautiful and magical. To my lungs, they are the apocalypse. In a few more weeks, the dogwoods will start bloom. Ahh, dogwood, harbinger of my deliverance. Come on dogwood.

Come on dogwood.


  1. South African candy aisle? lol

  2. A good friend of mine visited South Africa a few years ago. Everything was strikingly similar to the US, except for how strikingly different it also was. To illustrate his point he showed me a photo of a candy aisle at a little grocery store. It was all "hey look, a gigantic sprawling candy aisle, just like in the US" except that every item had unfamiliar names and strange-colored packaging. Looking at it made me uncomfortable for a second, like realizing I'd walked into the girls bathroom or something.