I signed up for the High Cascades 100 a long time ago, because bad ideas are better when you're financially invested. The winning time there last year was 8.5 hours, so I figure I will be riding over 10 hours in Bend on July 21st.
Obviously, then, I needed to do the Pat's Peak 6 Hour race as preparation, to confirm my theory that racing a mountain bike for over 3 hours is horrible, and that I am going to hate everything about cycling well before the hundredth mile of High Cascades.
The remarkable thing about the race was how I *never* rode very hard, and yet after 4 hours of riding NOT HARD I felt TERRIBLE. Lap one was chill, lap two was chill, lap three was chill, lap four was EXTRA CHILL and yet by lap five my whole body ached. What?
Meanwhile, some totally predictable things (Cary starting faster than me, holding a threatening gap, and then breaking his bike) and totally unpredictable (Pete Smith and THE WILCOX suffering) had happened, and somehow I rode into third place.
But, directly after Cary broke his bike I began a descent into darkness that spanned two laps, two bikes, and cost me two places. I knew I hadn't been eating enough, and I knew my sports drinks were unappealing, but I didn't know how to solve this -- so I just kept riding until the wheels came all the way off.
After six laps I staggered back to the HUP tent, with 1:10 left to race, and started stumbling around trying to figure out how to save myself. I knew that 1:10 was, unfortunately, enough time for two more laps. I knocked my bike(s) over, I knocked water bottles over. I wondered aloud what I could possibly eat, to which Chip (who had already given up!) suggested peanut butter and jelly. So I almost knocked him over.
Just before giving up and zomby-ing my way back onto the course, I saw the pickle jar.
Cool, crispy, and vinegary.
I like pickles when I'm NOT delirious, so consuming one in a bonk-haze was basically the culinary experience of a lifetime. I chased it with a cold coke, swung a leg over my bike, and suddenly... I was a bike racer again. Just like that.
I knocked five minutes off my lap times, and right when I was starting to think I was good at stuff, Greg Jancaitis lapped me. Unfortunately for him, it was right at the end of the big climb, so he couldn't escape me for the next ten minutes. We rode around the only flat, fun part of the course shooting the shit like best buddies (in the 6th hour, we are allllll buddies) while gradually accelerating to the speed of light.
Either that, or my pickles were wearing off.
My thrilling chase/forced socialization of Greg came to an end when I whipped around a corner behind him, went to stand up, and my back wheel clipped a stump I hadn't seen.
I flipped over so abruptly that my hamstring cramped while I was still in the air.
Obviously, I made a noise similar to the noise you would make if you broke your femur, so Greg stopped. In between thrashing around, I told him it was just a cramp, and he could carry on with the ass-whooping bestowing upon the field. So he did.
I finished the lap and decided to apply pickles and coke to the situation once more.
While applying said non-Skratch-labs fuels to my body, Rob Stine headed out ahead of me for his last lap. I had been catching him off and on all day, but losing time with slow pit stops and delirious laps. Now full of vinegar, I set off in hot pursuit.
I chased my face off for the whole lap. Even though Rob had barely a minute head start on me, I couldn't see him, even on the long ski slope climbs. But I was going HARD, and I *knew* I could catch him. Surely if I just kept smashing myself, I'd catch him, right?
Up top on the twisty part I kept hunting for him through the woods, almost hitting a tree at one point as I tried to spy him on another part of the course. He had to be out there somewhere. There's no way I'm not gaining, going this hard, this late in the race!
Into the final descent, and I was on the absolute edge of control. My forearms were so tired I no longer could brake consistently, so I'd let it rip for a while and then jam on the brakes at the last possible second. Rob was nowhere to be found, but going that fast, even a 10 second gap would keep you out of sight. I kept it pinned to the bottom and sprinted onto the final climb, hoping to see him...
But no. No Rob. Somehow he'd beaten me, even as I rode the fastest I've ever ridden a bike after six hours.
However... he was nowhere to be found at the finish tent.
And no one had seen him, either.
It turns out that Rob, realizing he was off the podium, and sick of racing bikes, decided to bail shortly into his eighth lap and go get a beer.
I spent 45 minutes chasing a ghost.
|Coke! Not shown: pickles. These gloves are an IED.|