Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Sunday In Hell

Not really.... I actually had a really good day despite collecting my first DNF in years. The title seemed kind of appropriate as the Sylvan Island Stampede happened to be on the same day as The Hell Of The North (Paris Roubaix). When I did get to ride, I had a blast. The trails were very technical, the course at Sylvan Island for this season was the most technical course of any course that I’ve raced on in Iowa or Nebraska. Very tight, very twisty, lot’s of wet rocks, lot’s of wet roots, lot’s of steel and lot’s of concrete. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a bad race, so long that I really don’t remember the last time that I did have a bad race. So I’ve probably been long overdue.
The next time you go out for dinner the night before a race, I’d recommend taking a pass on the fish stew. As soon as I finished my last bite, I could tell that something was amiss. I woke up at about 2am with a strange feeling in my gut, the kind of feeling that made you wish that you could blow some dirt, you know, the kind that makes you go ‘Aaaaaaaaah’ as it makes it’s exit. Well, that never happened. I woke the next morning and still felt off. At the time I didn’t really think much of it because I didn’t really feel that bad. There were just a few things going on that weren’t quite normal, like my stomach feeling a little off and I had no appetite.
The race wasn’t until 2, so we had a lot of time to sit around. During that time I never did get any kind of appetite, which is highly unusual for me, even the day of a race. WWJ and I packed up our stuff and headed to the course to do a little recon. During my recon, I was going through a pretty technical section of the course with a little too much heat. My front tire hit a wet root and knocked me off course enough that I was re-routed into the path of a tree. I had enough time to react that I was able to steer my front tire to hit the tree, rather than my handlebar. My front tire speared the tree, my body flew forward and my groin area slammed into my stem. If it wasn’t for the sweet Louis Garneau chamois in my shorts, the damage probably would have been pretty severe. As it was, it stunned me for about ten minutes. During that ten minutes of pain, I rode real slow like so that I could focus my energy on somehow making the pain go away. I did manage to land both feet on the ground and not fall over, so I kinda looked like I knew what I was doing. That, more or less, set the tone for the rest of the day, little did I know!
As we were lining up for the start, I saw the Lalonde brothers lining up at the start. At that point the rest of us knew that we would be racing for 3rd. Jesse and Marko Lalonde are a couple of Pro’s from Madison, WI and both race for the Gary Fisher factory 29’r team. Jesse won the 2007 Chequamegon 40, on a singlespeed no less and Marko is the 2007 Singlespeed Cyclocross National Champion and both of them pretty much dominate the WORS series up in Wisconsin. So yeah, you could say that they are pretty fast!

The brothers Lalonde, preppin' to slay all foes.

The race started and I got off to a pretty good start going into the singletrack in 5th or 6th. Shortly after we got into the singletrack I knew that something wasn’t right with me. I was riding like a bull in a china shop, I felt really clumsy and off balance. I really struggled to hang on to the wheel in front of me, especially on the flat open sections where I can usually do some damage. I lost the wheel in front of me and shortly thereafter, the guy in front of me was out of site.
I could tell that I had a long line of others behind me because I could hear their bikes rattling over the rough terrain. Eventually, over the course of a lap, everyone of them passed me. I tried to respond every time that I got passed, but there was nothing there.

This is what I look like when I'm fixin' to pull the plug. Busted out the old steed, thought it was going to be a little muddy. I was wrong.

I think it was probably shortly after the start of lap three that I decided it was time for a staff meeting. Mr. and Mrs. Legs were telling me that I should think pretty hard about bailing out. Common sense was telling me that I should bail. General Well Being was telling me that I should minimize the damage and bail, just in case I was in the process of getting sick. However Mr. Pride was making a very strong case for gutting it out. I decided that maybe Mr. Pride was on to something and I tried once again to up the pace. It kind of reminded of the movie Star Wars, when the Millennium Falcon was being chased by Imperial Cruisers. Chewbacca hit the hyperdrive in an attempt to go into hyperspace, the hyperdrive wound up and then quickly ground to a halt… Only Star Wars geeks can really appreciate that analogy. It was at that point that common sense finally prevailed and I pulled the plug.

WWJ didn't get lost, had a great race and brought home 5th overall.

There was a positive to my racing misfortune however. My Mom, Stepfather, brother in law, sister and niece were there, so I got to spend the last hour of the race hanging with the fam, watching the Lalonde brothers show everybody else how to race a mountain bike like a pro.

My little sister Scooter and I exposing Kennan to some of the finer qualities of the lifestyle of a mountain biker.

They finished 1 / 2 to the tune of about 10 minutes over 3rd place. They’re fast.
I’ve had a couple of days to reflect now and I’ve come to the conclusion that I had a mild bout with food poisoning. The loss of appetite, the mild ache in my gut, I felt really cold throughout the race and my simple inability to ride a bike without running into something pretty much summed it all up. It’s two days later now and I feel perfectly normal surprisingly enough. I’ve had food poisoning before and remember being knocked out of commission for the better part of a week. It could have been a lot worse, so I consider myself very fortunate!
I’ve done very little high intensity training, so I’m thinking about venturing up to Seven Oaks this Saturday to do the dirty short track criterium that my buddy Sea Biscuit is hosting. I also am planning to both Iowa City races the weekend after. Until then…

Thanks for reading,


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