Post Hopper Blues
One advantage of ten years of Hoppers, haven't missed one yet, is that I know what to expect from my own body. This year I expected pain and suffering and very little glory. Amazing showing this year; Team NorCal ladies, DFL, Gianni, Organic Athlete, Whole Athlete and do we dare say BMC and Astana? Good thing I planned the Grasshopper around the Giro this year so Levi was able to make an appearance. Scott was there as well but suffered the fate of so many others, multiple punctures. I got my flat on the descent to Salt Point, raised my hand for a wheel change and nothing happened. I'll need to talk to the director about this! Matthias promised to wait for me but I wasn't surprised to find myself alone on Hwy 1. Sat up and waited for some riders to come from behind. Great company with Gabe, Drew, Dan, Jason and a couple of others, kinda like a hard ride with your buddies. I guess that's what this really is, only no waiting at the top of the climb. Having spent time at the front, back and now middle of the pack throughout the years I'm impressed by the depth of talent and ability to suffer. On a bad day anyone who drops back from the front will receive no sympathy for those battling for 20th or 30th. There is no "omnibus" of sprinters waiting for the flatter stages. It is the embodiment of "tough love". Saturday's race saw a unique attack on Austin Creek let by NorCal. Not a bad plan considering Levi and Scott were along for the ride. I like Roger's description of riding along King Ridge with Levi, "wheezing through his pie hole", looked over to see Levi poker-faced calmly breathing through his nose.Group was caught and I understand they worked successfully to put Shane in the lead (behind Levi of course). Thing is, Shane is battling for the victory with Chris and they're on the same team...guess it's up to them to figure it out. Should be a showdown at Lake Sonoma for double points. Anyways, survived Fort Ross climb and had a ripping decent down Meyers Grade and Russian Gulch, does it get any better than that on a road bike? Had a clear mind on the beginning of Willow Creek but there was some trouble in the engine room. As my foot pain began to intensify I felt my "legs" beginning to cramp. I spent the next 40 minutes avoiding total body failure. Stopping was not an option, for one, Josh and Jason who heckled me for walking the Twin Sisters (it was my recovery strategy) needed their dose of brotherly love and besides if I stopped it would take me longer to get to the finish. During this time I was experiencing, I think ,six cramps; thus "legs" is in quotes. Let's face it, we have multiple muscles in our legs and sometimes the whole freakin' thing feels like it's gonna' seize up. Like when your quads cramp so bad you slowly dismount and discover that your hammy was nearly as bad, seizes up an you find yourself in a fetus position suckling the last drops of your water bottle and slurpin' a GU, hoping to avoid convulsions. This only happened to me once in the Humbug Hurryup years ago on a single speed, still finished 3rd and nobody got to see it! Managed to finish the ride and avoid getting caught by Brett and Giampalo. Just as I predicted; much pain and very little glory as I rolled in at 27th, more than a half hour off the pace.