Now finally, the post you’ve all been waiting for – oh wait, it was me that was waiting, no dreading, August 1 ever I signed up for the 70-mile Laramie Enduro Mountain Bike Race in Wyoming since one cold day last February, after all the pain from last year’s endurance races had faded and I couldn’t wait to get back on the bike again. The fact that my husband and a bunch of friends had signed up for it, and the rumors of top notch aid stations and awesome after party entailing free Fat Tire Beer and delicious food made it easy to click the little “ENTER NOW” button.
However, with the daily deluges in Utah this spring, then work, vacations, and something akin to swine flu, my training was essentially packed into the past two weekends and I was seriously worried. Since Drew and I have been on nearly opposite work schedules, we didn’t get to train together like we did last year, which is one of the reasons we do these things. I was fairly confident I could finish this race, but felt pretty sure it was going to hurt, and hurt badly.
THE LEAD UP
The caravan of Revolution/Peak Fasteners race team members Rhandy, Bob, Jim, Steve, Alison, Jen & Shannon, Jenelle & Ryan, Dick, Greg, Jeremy and even our long-lost teammate Brad from Calgary descended on Laramie. Cousin Milissa from Loveland, Colorado was there to support her husband, Christian, who had an even bleaker training schedule than mine and Drew’s. We all went out to carbo load on pasta on Friday night, and the mood became increasingly apprehensive as the rain came down in buckets outside and the forecast was for record low temperatures. Drew seems to thrive on cold, muddy racing conditions, but I am exactly the opposite, as proven by our race results at Five Mile Pass this spring. I went to bed in our deluxe king suite at the new Fairfield Inn feeling scared and wishing I could just stay in bed the next morning watching HGTV on one of the two flat screen TVs in the room.
Saturday dawned clear and cold (45 degrees) but we each felt excited that the day had finally arrived. After the moderately crazy surge of 400 riders at the gun, I passed teammate Alison on the first fun singletrack. Alison has been riding strong this year and on our last long training ride the weekend before this race, she was stronger than me. Teammate Dick N. was just ahead of me on this second road section so I got on his wheel. He seemed surprised but glad to see another Revo rider so we hung together until after aid station two. On the second road section the wind, she was a blowin’, and we worked together (me = 10% of the work, Dick = 80% of the work and some other rider = 10%. Yeah, that’s a team player there, Jube.) I also passed the girl that beat me in last year’s American Mountain Classic (AMC) stage race. When I stopped at aid station 1 to get food, Alison pedaled through. I passed her again after aid 1, but never did stop worrying that she was right on my wheel. I lost track of the AMC girl, so I had to keep pushing because I didn’t know if she was ahead of me or behind me.
All my boys were ahead of me:
(Andy [That's one half of Rhandy. Sorry, no pics of Rhonda, but she was there with us.])
After aid 2, I knew I was slowing Dick down and told him to ride on ahead, but I was still riding like a mad woman for about the first 40 miles. I felt great – like I could go all day at just below my lactic acid threshold. I was pushing a heart rate of about 10 beats per minute less than I do in the short races, which I was a little concerned was too high, but darn it felt good to pass boys! The course was a good mix of buff singletrack and Forest Service roads which made the miles tick off quickly. The rain had produced lots of puddles and a fair number of black, mucky, cow pie-scented bogs. Two non-ridable stream crossings, one up to mid-thigh, did nothing to help thaw my feet, but the rest of me was not cold, for which I was extremely happy. My new ESI silicone grips kept the numb-hands demons away, and my awesome mechanic (Drew) had my bike tuned so well, even the mud bogs couldn’t stop my shifting.
However, at mile 40 and about 4 hours into it, I started to lose focus and became fatigued. The heart rate I could sustain dropped 7 or 8 beats per minute. As evidence to how tired I was, I floundered around for my flask of caffeinated energy goo at mile 44. Confused by my jersey pockets, (Really, jersey pockets? They are not that hard to figure out.) I thought to myself, “You can get it in a couple of miles at the next aid station.” There had just been an aid station at 42 and there wasn’t another until 54. Good thinkin’ there, Jube. You are a total mental machine.
ARE WE THERE YET?
I pulled into aid 5 almost in a fog. I was greeted by Jim. Jim? What was Jim doing here? He normally smokes me.
“Jim, is that you? I can hardly see you,” I said. When I do long endurance rides, my right eye has a tendency to get blurred vision. I think it is because I dehydrate? The doc doesn’t know either. Anyway, both eyes were quite blurry at this point, severely affecting my depth perception. (This is why, I tell myself, I must stop this crazy endurance racing business.) Dick was there at aid 5 too. I didn’t care, I just wanted to push on and was afraid if I stopped too long I would lose momentum. I grabbed some food and headed out for the last 7 miles, feeling, remarkably, stronger but more delirious with each mile. As I began to hear the wonderfully noisy cars on the glorious highway and I could see the forest opening up to the finish line, I wept a little – I had done it!
We were all happy to finish!