Rain. Really?! Nah, it’s southern Arizona, we won’t actually
have to race in the rain. Well, it says 100% chance. Oh.
This changes a lot for preparation of this year’s D2D. There’s always big prep for any endurance race: food, water, calorie count, clothing, recovery, gearing; but now with this major rain coming in, the appropriate gear for it must also be packed and carefully thought out. We’re fair-weathered folks down here in Tucson! This could be a big deal 🙂
I’ve packed everything but the kitchen sink! Wait, do I need that, too? For two days out of town and two people racing a 10 hour race, I feel like we’ve got enough stuff to camp out for a week! Event tents, tarps, the tent walls. Rain jackets, water-proof tights, the most weather-proof gloves known to man (of which I can do nothing in other than hang onto my handlebars). Bikes, food, drink. The list goes on and on.
“What did we forget?”
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t feel like I forgot a thing!” I say confidently. Which is an unusual thing for me to say…
Unpacking at the hotel to repack the things to be left out at our venue set up:
“Where’s my tool kit?”
“Heck if I know. Where’s all the bottles I mixed and labeled?”
“I thought you didn’t forget anything!”
“Crap. I did bring the sunscreen. Damn.”
“Yep, we won’t even need that!” Mud, it’s nature’s sunscreen.
Setting up for the race, how can it possibly all turn against us tonight? The sun is out, I see blue sky. Ok, there is some wind, but there’s always some wind.
Dinner, a tasty beer. I slept pretty well. Something else I rarely can do before a race.
4am alarm and it’s raining. Pretty sure it’s been raining for hours. I must be honest here: I don’t mind being out riding in the rain, but it sure is tough to start
in the rain. I say out loud that I would prefer to start in the dry and if it must, rain after I’m already in the thick of it. I will later regret having said this. It’s like carelessly using the ‘Q’ word at work…always produces the exact opposite effect.
With camp set up in the wet darkness and rain gear on, trying not to layer too much as to roast myself the moment I start pedaling; I wander down to the start in chilly rain. By the time the gun goes off, the rain has actually stopped and after the first 2 miles up the road, before even hitting dirt, I feel like I’m about to burst into flames. The jacket comes off and I toss it to Kevin awaiting his turn of a Duo and roll on thru the venue. Massive gloves remain, water-proof tights still on.
What a thrill! There is mud everywhere! Some is sticky, some is slick. Sometimes it’s like riding thru glue. I can’t help but laugh and giggle every time I roll up behind someone and get splattered with ungodly amounts of mud!
“Did I get you?”
“That’s ok! I’m having the time of my life!”
I eventually pedal up behind another singlespeeder and stick with him. We are actually chatting as we finish the climb and begin the first rolling descent. I know what a good endurance rider this guys is, so I look past the fact that I’m not already red-lining and actually riding at a conversational pace and roll with it. I can hear the riders behind us, of whom we’ve just passed and have linked on behind our locomotive, mention the fact that we are “chit-chatting”.
“You want to go around?”
“No.” Well, ok then.
On the last descent before crossing back over to the venue, we ride into a dense fog. Wow! This is really freaking cool! I’m ready to move to San Francisco! Joking, never; but riding thru fog is a fun kind of eerie. It’s quiet, you can’t really see anything around you until you’re right up on it and it’s almost like you’ve wandered right into the picture book story of ‘Where the Wild Things are’. Of course, maybe it’s so exciting because it never happens here; but again, I’m all smiles!
Lap 1 done. I eat a GU and make my way onwards. No need to change any clothes yet, I’m just the right comfy. My Roctane bottles have enough calories and hydration for my size and with this cold weather to last me two laps. Which is a good thing seeing as I left most of my mixed bottles at home in the fridge. Now I know why I usually show up slightly over-prepared for anything, once in a while it comes in handy. I don’t bother carrying any food with me at this point. Laps are only about an hour, I can’t do a darn thing with these gloves on anyhow-I’ve tried before, quite comically so. (But I’m extremely happy to have them! My hands are for once not cold. Yet…)
Calorie wise, I should be on target to get my 220/hr in, so I feel good about how it’s working out.
Out on lap 2, it starts to get real quiet. Isn’t there a race going on here? I ride for strangely long periods without seeing another soul or even hearing birds or wind or something. But they’re out there. People do pass me. I pass others. Part way up the initial climb, I start to gain a following. At one point I look back and have 5 guys on my wheel. I ask if they want to pass and no one cares to go around. I find it a little comical for whatever reason and smile secretively.
“It’s a good pace!” I think to myself this seems unlikely to a non-solo participant, but alrighty-den; and laugh again when our train starts passing people:
“Oh, there’s like five of us.” I hear back there. The SS solo female on lap 2, leading the way! HAHA It just seems sorta funny to me.
Finally as we come into a descent, the second rider comes around, offering to help me out, then proceeds to leave me behind like I’m standing still. Eventually most of those riders pass me on the Tonto descent, too…you can’t gear for everything and this is where I am somewhat disadvantaged to the Gears. Kevin tells me later that Rider 2 saw me pull up to refuel and told him I was riding so well, he actually had to back off on the climb a few times. Dynamo!
While at my feeding trough, Kevin chuckles that I am completely and utterly caked in mud! My glasses have mud all over them. How can you even see? Oh, I guess I don’t notice it all the time. One of the guys next us offers me a beer, I tell him I’m already seeing spots, a beer might only encourage that! I actually got a laugh out of him. I crack myself up often; others, maybe not so much. It’s all good. 🙂
Laps 3-8 come by smoothly and rather uneventfully. I eventually change my gloves to something more functional, happy at the fact that shifting wasn’t involved while wearing them because even that can be a nuisance in them. I never did take off the tights, the sun peeks thru some here and there; but I never felt too warm so I figure I might be cleaner underneath if I leave them on anyway. At one point, I look at the other riders around me and wonder why they all look so clean. How did I possibly find every inch of dirt and mud out there and that guy has a white jersey on? Kevin will tell you that’s just me-if there’s dirt, I’ll find it…and roll around in it, or at least look like I have!
The laps still remain weirdly quiet. Of course, at the venue, there are always people screaming and calling out your name-it motivates! It is bizarrely peaceful for a lap race, tho. So, I talk to myself. Often. Sometimes in my own head, but mostly out loud. (Don’t laugh, you know you do it, too) I talk about my gearing, it seems perfect. Again, great job hubby on guessing that one! I can sit more than not, of course this changes the further into the race I get. I don’t mind and have found that I would much rather mash standing up on a harder gear than to continually do micro-burst spinning on an easier one. I talk about the creak that seems to become increasingly louder from my bottom bracket. Not that usual little eccentric creak, this is an unhappy dying crepitus that I start to feel as I pedal. I wonder if it will freeze up from all the wet dirt? Guess I better just keep pedaling and not let it stand still too long! There’s not much else to think about regarding the singlespeed…only once did I search for a shifter that wasn’t there. I’m in love with this ol’ bike! ❤
Occasionally, I think I see something odd moving out in the desert.
“Hey, what was that?!” Then I realize it’s the splotches of dried mud on my glasses…hmmm..maybe I should have taken the time to clean them off.
Randomly, there comes this guy standing out on the trail.
“Whatcha got there?”
“Margaritas!” Of all that’s good and mighty… it’s a margarita machine! He can just shoot the stuff right in your mouth as you speed by if you like.
I talk to myself about my pace. Feels different than other races in that I don’t feel like I’m blowing myself up the entire time, I almost feel like I’m at a conversational pace a lot of the time. I know this because I am constantly talking to myself. 🙂 My lap times are fairly consistent, this is how you’re supposed to pace for such endurance events. I think the singlespeed benefits me in this: I can only push this one gear as hard and fast as this one gear will let me for 9 or 10 hours. There’s no going slower uphill because I can gear down to make it easier, no gearing up to pedal faster or longer downhill. There are inescapable exertions and forced recoveries regardless of how you feel. It is what it is and it is what the body will do with it. (I know, deep, right?)
The wind picks up in here somewhere and a big tailwind begins to push me down the long descent at the end. This helps out tremendously, ok, it helps out on the descent; the climb is now into a headwind so I suppose it evens out…somehow. I guess.
I discuss my food intake with myself. I’ve had to change GU mixes (due to the fact I had left my memory back in Tucson along with my bottles), so in addition to a GU gel with each lap (Roctane keeps me moving!) and my bottle, I also eat a couple of the portables I made. Mmmm…salty baby potatoes…and mini pizza bites! …and chocolate sweet potato mini-muffins! Oh
my! Calorie and fluid intake still on target.
Coming around to head out on lap 9, I know that I will make it in time for a 10th and final lap-what an accomplishment! With or without gears! Here’s where I wish I had taken just slightly more time to assess the situation in front of me. As I re-mount at the lap-thru, Kevin is also heading out on his last lap.
“Get on his wheel!!” People yell out. Kevin looks back at me and smiles that ‘come on honey’ grin I know all too well. I can only laugh. He takes off like he’s being chased by 5 large thugs wielding crow bars and an unfed bear! I’m left in his dust…or rather mud. Right, I already know he’s gonna work his cute little ass off to stay ahead of me! Go for it babe, I’ve got 110 miles in my legs already, I just ain’t got that kinda fire left in me! …And then, there it is.
Straight ahead of me is the blackest, ugliest looking sky I’ve seen up in these here parts…and I’m riding right into it. Oh sure, my jacket and monster gloves would be a really smart thing to have right now; but I didn’t pick them up. So I put the hammer down. I try to find that fire and ride as hard and fast as I can…Uphill, into a massive headwind with leadening legs and muddy bare feet. (ok, I wasn’t barefoot, but that would make a good story right?) And, so it seems, I have put down a tack hammer.
Exaggerate? Me? Never.
Maybe I can outrun it. Doubtful. Maybe it will skirt around me. Why would it ever do that? As I get towards the end of the climb, the lightning starts. Beautiful, except for the fact that my bike and I are coming directly underneath it-and no, we ain’t fully carbon here. The thunder booms all around, I can feel it vibrate inside me. It’s just a little bit scary. Can’t stop, gotta just book it outta there. The rain starts to come down. Oh, it stings! Is that…sleet? Yep. Oh goody, hail, too. I am getting wet and very cold. I start to not care, I take chances and slide around corners and pedal as fast as my little legs will let me. I feel a little at ease knowing Kevin is somewhere ahead of me. Wait a minute. He ain’t coming back for me… Fogel’d! Ok, tides turned…I wouldn’t turn back either. Onward with you, fool!
There are others out there, I’m passing people like it’s still lap 1. People yell out my name or ‘great job’. I try to mutter thanks, but I just want to get out of this weather fast!
“Come on, Peeps! Let’s go!”
Hey, where’s that margarita guy now? A little ETOH might have given me a false sense of warmth right about now. I guess he was smart enough to get out of the rain.
Flying down that final Tonto descent back towards the road crossing and then the venue, it’s like I’m barely touching the ground at times. Floating over the bumps and skidding around the corners. Eyes open, but barely. Danger! I could destroy myself out here right now, but YeeHaw! Giddy-up and Go Go Go! (As a matter of fact, I gained back some time on Kevin right here) Every rock and jostle of the bars sent sharp biting pains thru my bitter cold hands, my arms were beet red and completely numb and my teeth begin to chatter uncontrollably.
I pedal right past camp, into the venue and that damn last mud puddle I’m sure was purposely placed prior to every dismount on every single lap just to make sure if you weren’t muddy or wet enough before, you are now. The promoters had all gone off half-cocked on tearing down the venue for concern of dangerously high winds. Hey, we were still riding out there!
I was on target for a 10 lap race and if only I had been smart enough to be prepared for that weather on lap 9, I would have gone for it. Rolling in just 3 minutes before the cut-off time, I didn’t need the 10th lap for the win and I don’t have that many screws loose to keep going; but I did need to get warm ASAP.
I called out “Mark me down for 9! I’m done with this!”
“That was awesome!” The time-keeper gals say. Maybe, more like nuts if you ask me! Ok, sometimes I do think I am certifiable…but only a kinda. 😉
With hands still clenched in the shape of my handlebars, I try to grab enough dry clothes to cover myself and head to the bathrooms to change. The hands are completely useless! I can’t get a single piece of clothing unzipped. I simply can not undress myself. Other ladies come in.
“Sorry, could you please unzip this? I can’t seem to make my fingers work.”
I manage to get the now soaking, muddy tights off along with the plastic bags on my feet (ah! Something to put this mess in!), standing in the shorts underneath which seem to have remained semi-dry, someone else helps start my jersey zipper. Once I get all that off, I realize my helmet is still on my head and in no way can I get a shirt over it. For the life of me, I can’t undo the stupid clasp. For crying out loud. I wrestle the damn helmet off my head with it still buckled and after about 10 minutes of work, I manage to get my sweats and shirt on (none of it an easy task!). I hear Christina come in.
“Oh thank goodness! I need help.” How can she be any nicer, she actually pulls off my nasty compression socks that I’ve had on for 9+ hours of sweat, mud and rain. I believe I couldn’t have done it without her, still be sitting there fermenting in them. After standing under the hand dryer for a few minutes, I start to feel warmer and the pain in my hands cease. This is when I realize I have no shoes. Really, Beth? With warm, dry socks on; there is no way I am putting wet bike shoes back on. Again, Christina saves the day and goes to get my shoes. Thank you, friend!
Sums it up! Thanks Christina!
Race over. Storm over. Dry and getting warmer. Teammates jump in to help tear camp down while we’re waiting for awards. I’m ready for my Chipotle burrito and a beer! No burritos? 😦 Sad I am…someone stole them? Who needs two boxes of burritos all to themselves?? Steph hands me a nice
Dogfish Head 120 IPA…and an extra burrito! Awesome…and big enough to share with my hungry hubby! I’m a happy girl. 🙂
This D2D is certainly a memorable one. Being simply plastered in mud from the moment I hit dirt at 7:30AM until the rain and sleet washed much of it away at 4:30PM, and let me tell you, there is nothing like a little hail after 115 miles on your bike to really get you moving; I had an absolute blast! Smiling the entire epic event (except maybe during the hail :o) and loving every minute of it!
I ended the day in 1st for Women’s singlespeed and 1st Women’s Overall, would have come in 3rd in the Men’s geared and solo competition; I pulled off a total of 9 laps in a ride time of 9h3m and elapsed time of 9h19m, rode 127 miles and gained 8700ft of elevation. This is the biggest ride to date on my singlespeed. I am pretty dang proud of that!
I like dirt 🙂
Team OVB made a fantastic showing with 15 teams out there and 3 podiums. Kevin Utley and Jonathan Dufek earned 2nd in the SS Duo, Stephanie and Mark Hawthorne brought home a 2nd place finish in SS Mixed Duo! (The Honeymoon is never over for these guys! ;)) You can check out all the team results at http://teamovb.org/
. Way to go!!
Thanks to all you out there who helped out in mixing bottles, food distribution and clothing changes for this race! Couldn’t do it nearly as efficient without you!
Thanks to all my awesome sponsors and supporters this 2014 year! I couldn’t have lasted thru any of my endurance races without GU Energy Labs
to keep my nutrition always moving me forward on the trail. Without the love, support and expertise of Oro Valley Bicycle
, I wouldn’t be able to do all the things bike related that I dream of doing. I couldn’t do any better than what Specialized
provides in way of bikes for me to perform my best. The limitless encouragement, love and friendship of Hawthorne MD/Forest Canyon and NAzGastro
keeps the motivation flowing. Of course, my number one hubby is super at keeping the machines running and providing unshakable optimism, I couldn’t ask for a better partner on this adventure through life!
I am so grateful for every opportunity that has come my way and for this life that I live!
See you all in 2015 when we’ll be thankfully welcoming back some wonderful people, racers and sponsors and super excited to greet some new ones!! Stay tuned! ❤