Short story on the race this weekend... I got 2nd of 4 women in incredibly bad conditions (50's and solid rain through the day which finally relented at night, only to start up again a half hour before the finish). I wasn't pleased with my total mileage (~290), and I'm not thrilled by how badly I hurt today (from cramping on the downhills in the wet cold), but at least it was a really good mental toughness race.
The long story...
The long story...
We arrived at Winters, CA on Friday morning and it was raining. Had a nice lunch, went to the hotel to unpack our bike boxes, got in a short ride (1 hour in, oh yeah, the rain), checked in at the race and stashed our bike boxes under someone's RV (they said we could), good dinner and to bed early.
Woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window and it was DRY! Thus the debate began. What to wear. The skies looked like they were clearing, forecast was 30% chance of rain. Hmm. Drew was doing the 12 hour race, and I was doing the 24. We decided to start in normal tights and a light rain coat, and stash rain pants in a drop bag half way through the day loop in case conditions changed. They started the race in a TT format, I was at 6:34:45, and Drew at 6:35. Time to go!
Rode easily and happily through the orchards. This is going to be a great day. A big 162.4 mile day loop to start. Hit some climbs, but it's all good. Starts misting a bit. Crossed over a cool dam.
Somewhere in the first half hour it started raining for good. No worries. One gal screamed by me, and another was right in front of me on the first big climb of the day. I tried to keep her in sight, then caught up to her on the downhill. We introduced ourselves (she's Patty Jo... an older gal with a huge ultracycling resume and lots to talk about) and spent the next flat section chatting (you are allowed to ride with another racer for 15 minutes and we took advantage of it). Hit the next climb and we repeated her getting ahead, me catching up on the down.
The course was truly scenic, going through the mountains next to Davis. I was soaked, and cold but trying to have fun. My whole body cramped up on the downhills even as I tried to spin easy to stay loose. Sucked down the Nuun but the elecrolyes couldn't save my muscles from the cold rest/wet/work triad. Got to the first aid station (~50 miles in) and enjoyed a PB&Honey sandwich. There was a triathlon going on so got too see the pointy end of the bike leg as I continues on (getting passed by guys wearing next to nothing tri suits and slowly turning blue). Came to the biggest climb on the course (~10 miles with some good steep pitches) and shivered my way up it.. Really made the wrong call on clothes.
The 2nd aid station was about 3 miles from the top. Got there and the aid station folks stared dressing me in trash bags, then Patty Jo walked over. She'd had enough and called it a day. Pulled out a bag of clothes and the three of them stripped me to shorts and a sports bra and then proceeded to dress me in all of Patty's dry clothes. From this point on I could not complain about the cold! If anything I was too warm on the climbs (and she's a bit taller than me so I looked a bit like a papoose). She and her crew offered to be my support crew (Drew and I were part of the few soloists without crews) and of course I said yes! Headed up the rest of the climb and they waited for me at a tricky turn on the downhill.
Saw them ever hour or so after that, I rode on staying warm and laughing at the absurdity of the weather. Came an intersection at around 100 miles and Patty Jo's car was there and she and Drew got out. Eh?? He missed a turn, got in an extra 20 miles, and when he finally got on course he ran in to Patty Jo and a few other support vehicles at this intersection and asked for a ride home. Patty Jo said she was crewing for Leslie, he had a "My Leslie?" minute and her crew went back in another vehicle and now she and Drew were my crew.
Downhill. 5 mile climb. Aid station (with Cup of Noodles). Turn to what should have been 30 miles of loveliness but was spoiled by a headwind, bad pavement, and the ever present rain. Finally made it in off the day loop in just under 13 hours. Yikes. I was WAY behind plan.
Took a long (30 minute) stop to change back into my own clothes (had my nice rain gear in the car), at some veggie soup, lubed up Artemous and headed out on the first of many night loops. The night loops were 18.4 miles and pretty quiet as many folks dropped out or switched over to the 12 hour race. The only gal left, Sandy, was miles ahead of me. She was trying to qualify for RAAM (400 miles at a 24 hours race), was local and trained on the course, had a great crew, and came at the race ready to do it... conditions got her as well and while she had a better day than me she did not make it.
So the night loop. Pretty much flat, 2 sections (2 miles each) of icky pavement, one section (4 miles) into a headwind. The rain stopped and most of the night was dry... by 5am the roads were even dry except for some puddles... All in all not bad. Around 4am I started getting sleepy. Shut my eyes on the bike a few times and jolted awake. Came in off that lap and tried to drink a shot of instant coffee with sugar (BLECH)... knew I needed to so something because falling asleep while riding wasn't the thing to do. Got a Vivarin from someone... Did the trick! Went back out still sleepy but able to stay awake.
I held my focus pretty well through the race, never just pedaled it in, but was never able to really make up the speed I had lost. Went out on my last lap with intent, crossed the 13 mile mark at 6:34 (you get credit for the last mile you make), and then the skies opened up again.
I was drenched and just had to laugh as I soft pedaled the last 5.5 miles to the finish.
Changed clothes, boxed up the bike, and spent the day travelling to get home last night. I'll unbox Artemous tonight and do some serious cleaning.
Another not so confidence building kind of day. I was 50+ miles short of my goal, 30+ short of my last 24 hour race in February. This week is focused on recovering. The weekend after next is a good challenge weekend (back to back 200 milers) and I can only hope the weather will be good, I can have good solid rides, and will start thinking about how I am going to rock at RAW and stop calculating just how little I can sleep so that I can make the cutoffs...
Tired and flat but hoping the optimism will return, Leslie
And.. how to not smile at least a little at how maddy is spending her days at Drew's office...
OCN: 4660 this year
OCN: 4660 this year