Yesterday I rode roving mechanic support for Sunday Parkways North. I had a grand time, riding three loops of the route as a volunteer and then most of a fourth loop with Sweetie after my volunteer shift was over. A little over 20 miles on the day, plus a bit of sunburn on my arms (I forgot to re-apply the sunscreen), but they were slow miles and I felt pretty good. I went home, elevated my feet for the evening and slept reasonably well.
Today I went to work, and left early for the short-track race. The day was cool and dry, with high temps in the low 70's and already cooling down again by 5 pm. I got there a little later this time and couldn't ride more than some of the single-track stuff before my registration shift began. I did an easy warmup, and pulled into the start area about ten minutes before my race -- where I was thrilled to discover that there would be at least five of us in the Womens' Singlespeed race. We talked excitedly and were interrupted by the race official, who asked us if we wanted to start with the Mens' Singlespeed, or start with the Cat II 45+ Women. A lack of consensus on our part relegated us to start with the other women, which none of us really minded. The Mens' Singlespeeders are ridiculously fast and they would only run us over trying to get the holeshot anyway.
I wasn't worried about the parts of the course I didn't get to ride -- how much can they change the moto section, anyway, right?
I should've worried. Tad B. And Company threw in some nasty hairpin turns that went straight into off-camber inclines; if I didn't have my cranks in the right place I would hang myself up on the turns, which I did twice. And then there was the whole back-and=forth, back-and-forth thing; The course had been laid out in multiple rows across the rhythm section, meaning that every time I thought I was nearing the end of a lap, I had to turn and go back across the moto course in the opposite direction. There were at least five of these turnarounds, which I found mentally exhausting. I still had to get off and push my bike up the steepest berms on the moto course but managed to power my bike through most of the inclines in the single-track section, and up onto the tabletop each time (where that happy little drop-down greeted me on the other side). The moto section itself was dusty and dry, and the wind kicked up mouthfuls of dust that dried out my throat in an awful way.
The carved-out gully between the trees was waiting for me -- but this time the route was run in reverse of last week, meaning I had to not only get through the gully, but then had to immediately muscle up a steep, short incline to keep my bike from getting stuck in the thing.
I managed this feat only twice out of four passes. The third time I crashed into the tree on my left side (there's a lovely bruise on my arm now) to avoid being hit from behind by a Cat II guy who was trying to pass me. The last time I was so spent I stopped well before the obstacle and ran across it with my bike.
(Yeah, I know. Total Weenie Action.)
On my third lap, with less than ten minutes to go in the race, I suddenly had to pull over and stop for more than a minute. I stopped on the far side of the out-and-back on the grass, behind a short tree where I could pull off, sip some water and catch my breath without hanging up other riders. I felt an urge to pour a trickle of water down the back of my neck as I was swallowing a gulp. Big mistake. I was shocked by the cool water on my greatly overheated neck and gagged on the water in my throat. Then I felt a wave of nausea come over me, and my mouth began to salivate heavily. I gagged some more, and felt horrible for thirty slow, agonizing seconds. Oddly, nothing significant actually came up, and after another moment, I felt suddenly better and was able to resume pedaling.
My final lap was a nothing less than a triumph of will over a loudly kvetching mind and body, which kept asking me "why are you even DOING this?"
I responded, "because back at the start all the Singlespeed Women agreed that we all had to finish tonight. And I AM finishing, so shut up and pedal."
To my utter amazement, I completed four laps.
Results are here.
I don't mind finishing in last place because as you can see, the category IS growing; and besides simply being able to finish every week, that is really what I want.
Two down, five to go.