Gravel in Yer Eye
So we all line up in the crazy warm 60+ degree crazy winds of the morning. It was a start time of 6 a.m. KT, bless his soul, had gotten up and made us sausage and pancakes. It was still dark at 6 and I was a little concerned about how we were going to see in the dark since we hadn't brought lights. Anyway, much screwing around with last minute stuff only for KT to realize he had brought the wrong shoes, so he took Wade's truck and raced for home to get his other shoes while we did last minute potties, etc and lined up to start. We all ended up going in the bushes since the porta potties were 100 yards away and possibly around a fence, (nobody could tell). The fastest way over there was across a ball field. But having seen puncturevine everywhere....not this chicken. no way! So we line up to start, getting dust blown into our eyes every few minutes with the massive gusts of wind wondering just WHAT was in store for us, if this was the start. They had a police escort to lead us through town which was actually pretty cool. Sort of a neutral roll out and a visibility thing. Right away I ran into a guy from the tri club and chatted with him for a second. Then I spotted Pat from team Lazy Tarantulas and talked to him a bit. He is good friends with Tom and Cassie (for ththose who don't know, Tom is my mechanic/ bike builder) I told him they were there. Right about then Tom came whizzing by us into the pack. He had gotten a late start due to trouble with this contacts.The peloton was 66 deep (ok 65 given that KT still had to catch up) but they were rolling fast. For some reason the pace was fast. Really fast. And at mile 14 I decided fuck it. I wanted to finish the race and at that pace, there was no way in hell. So I dropped off and started doing my own ride. We hadn't even hit gravel yet. Once I backed off and started doing my own pace, I settled in and started to realize all of the things I had forgotten. Chamois cream, inhaler, tube with endurolytes and excedrin and naproxen. I was a little pissed at myself but there was nothing I could do at that point, so, ride on. The wind died down once we got up into the forest and were climbing. The gravel started at turn two, about mile 18. It was really nice gravel. And we just climbed, and climbed and climbed to the first aid station. At about mile 22 ish. I would see and pass Pat and some others sometimes and then they would pass me at the aid stations, etc. At mile 38 the Garmin said off course but there was nowhere else to be. And I could see bike tracks in the road (gravel) and eventually got to a turn and one of the route signs were there and someone offering water, so all clues that I was still on course in spite of Garmin. I carried on. It became pavement, I kept thinking I would run back into the course but then turn away again. Finally about mile 45 I was back on course and hurtling downhill on pavement. Saw a sign for bear springs or something, then at the next moment saw a large black animal out of the left eye on the side of the road, did a quick double take, and saw it was acutally a cow. Ha ha. Hungry, where's the next aid station?
Down to hwy 26, into the horrid headwind for a mile or so, and left towards Big Prairie. At that point, my half of a banana at the first aid station was done and I was HUNGRY. The people there were so excited to see me. Cheering and jumping around. The kids grabbing my wàter bottles and filling them. Then it started raining. They pulled a pop up tent over on top and I stood there and ate all kinds of food while someone else patiently held my bike and I talked to the organizer about the garmin off course thing. Then KT showed up there and Pat. Pat pulled out at that point. I rode on knowing KT would catch me, and a few minutes up the road, he did. He said, "you're moving right along." I said, I may be the last one in today, but I intend to make sure they don't have to be out here ALL day! He laughed and said there were still another dozen behind me. So he and I rode in the pouring rain together for a while. Climbed quite a bit, some fun descents. I got grit and gravel in my eyes because my glasses fogged up when I put them on, but this wet stuff was....foreign. At the top of that big climb he turned and took a cutoff so he would go down to the 4th station and miss the big climb in the middle. It was nice to have him to ride with. And it had stopped raining half way through so we weren't miserable. On I rode. Chasing two guys I had seen earlier in the day. they were clearly riding together, in the same kit. I would catch them on downhills, and uphills, and they would drop me on the flats.
I finally caught up to them at the third aid station at the top of the big climb. Where the signs said 7 miles to Mitchell and 40 miles to Prineville. They had again, great people, lots of good food, and downhill. Me and the boys rolled out, I just was with them by chance. They were saying they had just done this on a whim. They were from CA, bay area, crit racers. This was HARD. But they were fun. So on the gravel, they certainly took differrent lines than I did, but they were still pretty good bike handlers. Then we got down to pavement. They were soooo happy. until we hit the frost cracks. Those were AWFUL. They were so sad. I wasn't TRYING to draft, I just kind of ended up drafting because we all were together and going about the same speed. When I realized they were taking turns and actually checking to see if I was still on, I piped up that I was happy to take turns, etc. They said sure. So I helped pull. It was windy and rolling. And frost cracks. So on we rolled. Until we got to the last BIG climb of the day. It was on pavement, but poor Patrick cramped and just popped. He was shelled and done. I tried to pulled them, but he couldnt do it. We caught another guy who was hurting. I tried to pull them all but nobody could hang on. So climb I did. And climb and climb and climb and omfg. I finally stopped and just stood up and said, are you kidding me? and started climbing again. And then started descending and descending and descending and .....you get the idea....finally the rest stop popped up. And oh blessed joy, this one had a potty!! I had to make like a bear in the woods at like mile 37 earlier in the day so I was overjoyed to have a real potty. And oh the spread they had!! I knew I was hungry, but when I saw the maple bars with bacon....and when it hit my mouth and I actually DROOLED on myself....it was embarassing. But I hung out and waited for Rob and Patrick to see if they wanted to work together to get back through the last 20 miles of uber headwind into town. And ate a jelly filled donut they had cut apart and put PB into. because you know, protein. :) They showed up, fumbled around for a bit and finally decided to bail at that point. so on i rode alone. Once I got out to Hwy 26 I think it was like 10 miles to Prineville. Those were some of the hardest 10 miles I have ridden in a long time. 15 mph into headwind that suddenly slams you down to 11 mph. just miserable. One guy showed up and we tried working together for a little bit. But I finally shelled off the back. It was too much. I actually started feeling nauseous. My left shoulder had been screaming at me since 20 miles ago. My left foot was numb, I had had a headache for maybe 70 miles. I was just done. so uttlerly done. I had many discussions with myself. I was riding from tree clump, to barn, to hill side, to curve in the road, where each thing might provide, if not shelter, at least a change in the wind. I finally started having the "what would be so bad if I just had KT come get me for this part of the ride discussion with myself." Then, I had the thought, there was only one other woman. what if? What if she bailed, took a shortcut, had a mechanical, had whatever....what IF I am the only woman to finish and actually won by default and didn't qualify because i pussed out at this point? Suck it up, pedal on. And I did. And I rolled up and crossed the finish line and people cheered and clapped and suddenly there was my team all standing in this big manly male line to grab little shelled weak dirty tired limp me as I fell off my bike across the finish line. KT scoops me up, they all cheer and high five me and pat me on the back and rush to get me cold water and ask what I need, take my bike, escort me to the truck. They were awesome.
It was a really great weekend with some good guys. And yeah, I'd do it again.