27 March, 2013

And, the Iceman Go-eth...

Since everybody has been updating their blogs, I figure it would be time that I should do that as well.  Back in November I promised an update on my Iceman ride.  I think it has been sufficiently long that I forgot enough detail that this post can be relatively brief.

It was the Friday before, and on the way up we stopped at a Taco Bell for lunch.  Upon entering I saw Osgood, a scary bearded guy who had to be Lako, and Alex Gonzalez.  I felt better about my dining decision know that the guys who are routinely faster than I am were also sitting down to 4 Doritos Locos Tacos, Supreme, two Mexican pizzas, a Nacho Bell Grande and 164 oz. of Mountain Dew Baja Blast!

After lunch we continued on our way north to Kalkaska.  I had read a lot about the new sections of the course and some re-routing action.  I figured the only way to know what to expect would be a preliminary ride of the course the day before.  I took off from the Kalkaska hospital and hit the trail near the start.  I briefly thought about starting at the school, but was a bit worried about changing in the parking lot.

The new ‘road’ sections were definitely sandy, and deep.  I knew things would be different after 300 racers go through.  I would be taking off in the afternoon; I was a “Pro” after all.  I finished up in about 2:20, damp and cold. I felt Ok for the race.  It was just for fun, right?
Then it was off to GT Lodge to sign in and hit the expo.  I waited in the long line to pick up my packet, and once I made it to the front I was told that the “Pro” riders needed to go over there (*points to the right*) where there were 2 workers and no line.  Doh!  One benefit wasted.  Browsing through the expo, my excitement for mountain biking and cycling in general was waning, so I didn’t see much that interested me.

Time to check into the hotel, sneak my bike into the room and then go get some dinner.  Instead of my traditional pre-Iceman meal, we met some friends at a different dining establishment.  To continue my theme from earlier in the day, it was a wet burrito.  Although the ‘wet’ tasted like spaghetti sauce and kinda ruined the experience for me.

Back to the hotel, it was time for bed.  I awoke the next morning and went down for breakfast.  It was nice not setting an alarm, although the 5, 6, and 7 am racers were plenty loud enough that an alarm would not have been necessary, even if I was wearing ear plugs and put a pillow over my head.  Another issue that morning was a slight toothache that gradually increased in intensity throughout the morning until my moderate discomfort became annoying pain.  I went to the drug store, loaded up on toothache medicine and pain relievers.  It helped a bit, but I wasn’t in to mood to eat any lunch.

Time to race.  I waited in traffic and dropped the wife off at Timber Ridge then continued to Kalkaska. It was super nice just driving up to the starting line and parking in the adjacent lot.  “Pro” benefit #2 I guess.  I got changed, rode around, chatted with Mr. Powers, and get ready for the race.  I wasn’t feeling strong mentally or physically.  Every time I took a cold drink it felt like somebody stabbed me in the face.  Oh  well, it wasn’t like I was gonna win this thing.  There were some call ups for the fast people, whilst I lingered in the middle of the back half.  Then the start, the slow crawl to the line, then tearing off down the street like a bat outta hell.  Riders weaving in and out, cutting people off, sketchy as hell like they are going to win this thing.  I get run off the road and across somebody’s front yard.  Sorry, but I don’t want to touch the floor 42 seconds into the last race of the season.

Chaos continues until we get passed the elementary school and make the right onto the first section of this course that isn’t road.  Flying still, pedaling down the 2-track, a left hander and…oh we’re stopped.  Somebody crashed on the first turn on dirt.  Really folks, we’re “Pros” remember?  I don’t recall much during these middle sections of the course.  I worked as hard as I felt I could, but I wasn’t racing.  I made some passes; I probably got passed (but not much as I was already near the back).  I saw Mitch ahead and tried to reel him in, but was never able to.  I would close and he would pull away.  The last time I saw him was the sandy road.  It was actually ride-able thanks to the earlier traffic.  Made it up the road climb to the cheering masses (who had thinned after the real fast guys came through) and was working until Anita’s hill.  At the base of the wall the Pro women caught me, and zoomed by.  I stood to climb and both of my thighs said “No, we are done for the day, thanks” and I was forced to sit down and spin the rest of the way.

Around mile 8, Ain't dead yet!
The rest of the way was just getting to the finish.  Climbing up Woodchip Hill some youngster acutely stated “It doesn’t look like he is going very fast!?!” which was a very keen observation and something I was definitely aware of.  I think he was just in (the opposite of) awe when comparing me to the pros that came through 40 minutes before I did.

Race finished.  Time 2:00:40.  No sub-2 hr. tee-shirt. Oh well.  I was an experience.  I slogged back to camp, showered (Plenty of hot water available since everybody else finished hours earlier, Bonus #3), and ate some food.  It is hard to say now if I was disappointed with my effort.  I hadn’t experienced cramps like that before.  All I could rely on was maybe next year.

And I got to look forward to a root canal to fix that toothache….