Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Test Of Endurance MTB report, by Fergus

Test of Endurance

A 50 mile bike race in Blodgett, Oregon. I drove down on Sat with
Susan who solicited for a carpool through the bike mailing list. It
worked out well. She lives not too far away and she was good company.
We met my friends Sage and Brice at the informal campgrounds and
cooked and ate and slept. Except for me. There was a pomeranian
puppy mill close by and the shrieking and yapping carried on until 11
and started up again at 4:30. I don’t see how people can live
tolerating such noise pollution. And then there was a rooster
greeting the morning at 5 AM and then more neighborhood dogs taking
turns filling the small valley with a domesticated racket.

As we did our rolling start, my sleep issues were gone.
The weather was great. A little cool but I had a shirt which I easily
dropped at the first aid station. The four of us were enjoying the
ride together for the first third, and then Susan and I pulled ahead.
I was feeling good. At aid station #2, a fellow racer noticed that my
rear cog was loose. The lockring had loosened and then become cross
threaded. I tightened it a bit and then broke it completely. I was
now facing not being able to finish the last half of the race. I was
tired and couldn’t think straight. It made me think about pilots and
doctors and others who make many important decisions with little
rest. I’m sure conditioning helps but I’d much rather have a well
rested pilot/doc than a tired one. I made only bad decisions and had
trouble coming up with solutions. Some 20-something guy wrapped
electrical tape on the threads and it held for 14 miles! I couldn’t
get out of my saddle much and I had to be very gentle pedaling, but I
made it to aid station #3. There, there was the perfect spare wheel.
29er, single speed, 20 Tooth, disc brakes. It had a big knobby on it
and plenty of air. Since I was in the back of the pack and most
single speed racers are fast, I made the call that he had already
passed the aid station and was not in need of the wheel. I put my
name and cell # on my broken wheel and took off. His lock ring
loosened up as well but I was able to find a way to tighten it before
it messed up the threads.

I ate and drank at every aid station. Most people had camel-backs but
I just downed a bottle and refilled it at every aid station. I was
hungry once and I downed a big dose of maple syrup which I had
brought. It was great.

There were times which I wondered if my body would cramp up or
otherwise freak out and I would be unable to finish. Some parts were
great riding, but there was this stress of the unchartered territory
of going more than twice my record distance.

Susan and I finished together. I didn’t contest the finish. I was
indebted to her for waiting for me. I probably added at least 30
minutes to our 7 hour ordeal by my mechanical issues. And then it was
done. There was a mix up with me not being on the podium. I did come
in third in my category but there were only three of us. I was
disappointed not to have the picture of me on the podium but I’ll try
to be a big boy and not pout.

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