Monday, May 19, 2008

Hopper Finale

Woke up on Sat less nervous than usual. I'll just ride my own ride and see how it goes...what a crock of shit! If it's a mountain bike race my old reflexes kick in and it's throw down and then damage control. Didn't work so well on Saturday. We saw a large crowd for this event, +/- 60 people, even a few super-sufferers on 1 speeds. A good showing of the ladies as well, including the dueling dynos Cathy and Sara. I knew this would be a memorable Grasshopper with much suffering; just hoped I would make up Bummer Peak. This loops always works me over once we head towards Liberty Glenn and Sat was no exception. Last years strategy worked well; get a good start on the single, climb in my granny to not blow too soon, and rip the rolling sections, so this was my game plan. Strangely I found myself attacking the group into the start of the trail when Glenn and Shane came by me. Okay, good company I thought, like the old days for me. Then I passed them on a rolling section and had hole shot, a romantic but short lived experience as they passed me again on the first climb. Soon to catch me was Roger who was apparently a little "pissed off"(pun intended) and ripping. Soon came Chris B. I settled in to cruise and it took about 10 minutes to get my heart rate under 1 million. George caught up for a while and gave me the traditional "I'm not feeling good today" disclaimer before passing me. Up and down and round and round...K.B. and later the Big Cheese came by as I fixed my stuck chain. I was carrying three bottles and a fourth in my jersey. Six GUs and two Luna Bars were my fuel source but I think I needed something special. With two short rides in my legs since the King Ridge Grasshopper I was at least well rested. I began feeling cold chills early on, not a good sign. I've always felt that the word "epic" should be saved for rides when you're not sure you going to make it home the same day you started, or have something happen like laying fetal position in a creek, desperately trying to lower the core temp. Sat was epic for me. I was alone all day, unless you count all the voices in my head. I knew everyone was suffering and I just hoped I could pull this off. The communication between the pilot and the engine room was full of static and every exposed section was a blow torch to my head, splothchy and blurred vision. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Middle ringing descents that I usually rip in my big ring was not a good sign. Finally Bummer Peak, only five riders ahead of me...Mount Everest without oxygen, food or water. 15 minutes of misery or 15 seconds to bliss? Sat down, drank, got passed by Cameron and Patrick. Into the lake it was! The crux was the boaters parked at the bottom, casually floating, looking relaxed. Man I must look stupid to them, not that I care. Took a soak but afraid to swim (drown by cramping) probably the most satisfying swim of my life. Cameron joined me, then Dan B, then Rick. Jason M tried to but was cramping too bad to walk down hill. Suited back up 2o minutes later to tackle the climb, a little rested, a 90 bottle of water to suckle. Climbed half way, cramped. Couldn't ride, couldn't walk. Luckily no one was chasing me, I would have been easy prey. Limped to the top to round out the top 20. One for the books.
Shane ripped up the men's field for the overall win over Chris B and Sara P. came from behind to beat Cathy. Great effort all and thanks to Kim for the water at the finish


At 5:19 PM , Blogger Sr. Miguel said...

Given the high temperatures the last few days, I had written the MTB Grasshopper at Lake Sonoma off, but since it cooled the night before the event I decided to check the temps at 6:30 of the morning of the ride. They were in the low 60's at Geyserville. This might be doable thought I and abandoned plan A, which was to throw the kayak on the car roof, launch at lake, paddle around in the coolness and watch others rounding the lake on steep trails suffer. I would then go to the end of season party, drink beer, eat, and listen to how intolerable the heat was. I wished I had stuck with plan A. Lured by false hopes the kayak stayed and the mountain bike went.
The Lake Sonoma visitor center parking lot was getting toasty by take off time. Two voices battle in my head. One says, bail out now, you know how you hate heat. The other says, hey, once off the pavement and onto those tree lined trails it will be cool enough to ride. I fall for the lie.
Up the paved road to Skaggs. Not too bad. Hit the trail which consists of slippery dry dirt over hard stuff and try to keep the bike under control. It is cooler up here. Get sucked into pedaling on. Up down, up down, up down and around. And then we enter the unshaded zones.
These are the times when a personal investment in professional psychological help might prove profitable. Why do I do this stuff....repeatedly. But, why pay for help when my riding friends profess knowledge on every imaginable subject. Surely one of them has an answer.
Halfway through and I've bathed in every creek crossing but am still hot. I am also walking the bike...a lot. Three 24 oz bottles, plus one right before the start, have been consumed. The last swallows are hot tea hot. I miss a trail change and go down a really steep service road. Walk back up. Find trail. Continue.
Ahead are half a dozen fellow morons clustered around a cattle trough filled by a pipe with running water. We stare at it. I gamble that if it is really bad there would be a sign so stating. Fill three bottles, drink one, refill. Guardia takes ten days to appear. I'll keep you posted.
On a rocky rutty descent I find a banana bar and a GU. Gobble them down. Keep going. Up down, up down and the temps are over 100. Finally the trail meets the lake. Dump bike. Shed jersey. Kick off shoes. I spend 20 minutes floating, swimming around and diving. Race times are meaningless now.
After the swim comes the Bum Mountain climb. The water treatment worked. I roll right up it to the top then to the highway. Finally back to the truck. The end of a very painful exercise in self torture is over. Will I do something like this again? Stay tuned.

At 3:05 PM , Blogger Patrick said...

here is a mini report of pain from the back of the pack...... requested by a buddy, whom suggested I post it here.

there truly are not words to properly describe my experience. somehow flatted a tubless system about 3 miles in, and DG waited with me while we baked throwing a tube in. at 10:45am. drank from a creek 1/3 of the way around cus i knew the what i was carrying wouldn't last. would not have made it out alive if someone had not spotted the stashed water on the far side of the lake (good eyes gianni rider on the black rigid Ibis). every time I came around a bend into a southern exposed rock face,
110+ degrees hit me like a sack of nickels. Survival mode climbing consisted of pedaling as hard as possible (see granny gear spinning) through the exposed portions, to stop and try to cool down in the shade. more then once feared heatstroke. Bummer hill was powerhiking from shade to shade, when a bloody nose brought me to a stop. over an hour spent on the side of the trail trying to not die, and a finishing time more then double that of the winner (a lil over 5 hours). never going back if temp is predicted above 80 degrees. never again use the term survival mode, nor epic unless i am strategizing to make it out alive.

-Patrick (not mentally right yet) Kitto


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