Saturday, September 07, 2013

Dave Wiens West Elk Bicycle Classic

It's Saturday. I did the ride a week ago and I have yet to give you the low-down. This past week has been filled with emotional ups and downs, among them Hazel's first day of kindergarten, Tygh's first birthday, my first day of teaching since Tygh's birth last year...yeah, it's been slightly insane. To be honest, I haven't had the wherewithall to sit down at the damn computer and type it all out.

In addition, I am tired. I am dehydrated. I am down to my lowest weight in 20 years. All of these problems are my own doing- not going to bed early enough, not drinking enough water, not taking in enough calories. But they have all culminated in something I like to call Gunny Girl Mush Brain.

Next week? I get my shit together. I get enough sleep. I drink enough water. I eat like there's no tomorrow. And I gather my thoughts and get centered for crying out loud.

Meanwhile... the ride. Let's talk about the ride.

In the days leading up to it, Brian was nervous. I became progressively less nervous. At that point, there was nothing I could do to prepare. I saw no point in worrying about it. Brian and I spent the previous night preparing the house and the kids for our overnight babysitter. I'm pretty sure that cyclists and bike racers without kids? They don't get it. Every race or ride is essentially a 3-stage race- deal with kids, ride, deal with kids. If you can make it to the end of the third stage alive, YOU WIN.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm just talking reality here.

So yeah. Babysitter showed up at 6:30am, we went to the race/ride/whatever it is. Brian nicely posed for a "Before" picture.

There were something like 150 riders. That's a good and a bad thing. Good because the other 149 riders can swoop you along for 30 miles while you put in mostly zero effort. Bad because some of the other 149 riders are insanely dangerous in a group. Ride with caution.

The first 30 miles? Easy peasy. I barely pedaled. But then I had to pee (WHY IS MY BLADDER SO SMALL??) so I lost the group at the first aid station.

The next 20 miles were spent climbing uphill, picking riders off one by one. I probably put too much effort in to it but there was no way I was going to get beat going uphill.

Brian waited for me at the top of the Black Canyon Rim because he's an amazeballs husband. He then proceeded to pull me for the next 60 miles.

Did you get that?

Brian pulled me for SIXTY MILES. I owe him. I owe him so big. Granted, much of it was downhill (45mph, anyone?) but dude. Without him, that would have been the longest 60 miles of my life. Thanks to him, it was quick and fairly easy. Next time you seen him, tell him how rad he is. He deserves it.

Once we hit the dirt on Kebler Pass though, things kind of went the opposite direction. Brian just...wilted and I couldn't ride uphill that slow without falling over. So I worriedly left him, praying he wouldn't die of heat exhaustion or bear attack, and climbed.

I spent much of my 5500ft. climb alternately rocking out to the Black Eyed Peas on my headphones and stressing that Brian was laying on the side of the road, breathing his last breath and cursing his wife for not waiting for him.

When I ran out of liquids on the hottest part of the climb, with no shade in sight, and a car stopped to fill up my bottles, I specifically asked, "Have you seen my husband? He looked like death the last time I saw him". The driver indeed had seen Brian and confirmed that he was still pedaling, albeit slowly.

That gave me the confirmation I needed and I kept pedaling- just pedal forward, just pedal forward- to the last aid station. By that point, I knew I was the second female in the ride/race. I also knew my whole body ached, from my neck to my toes. Everything hurt. Catching the #1 female seemed unlikely and I went back to my first goal: to finish.

I chugged some gel and electrolyte, got back on my bike, turned up the music, and off I went. For 5 positive minutes. At which point, I pulled to the side of the road, regrouped, promised myself 200 more vertical feet and started pedaling again.

That happened more times than I care to count.

Until I hit the pavement part of the pass. Then I refused to let myself stop. FINISH THE F-ING THING was the refrain in my head.

So I did. I pulled in at 8:10:something or so and promptly got off my bike. Because those saddle sores weren't getting any more comfortable.

And then I anxiously waited for Brian to finish. Remember the last time I had seen him? He looked like death.

Here's his finishing shot. He looks slightly better than death.

And us, together again, both alive, happy to be done but anticipating the next 7 miles downhill on dirt.

And I did indeed win second female. This is amazing to me. Prior to the ride/race, my longest ride was 80 miles. I haven't ridden 100 miles since before I had kids, over 5 years ago. I lost to a 50-something lady from Telluride who won last year. Good for her. She deserved it- a good ride is a good ride.

Once I finished, I gave myself permission to put on the jersey and take a picture. I am so freaking proud of this thing, I am thinking of framing it.

Nah. I'll just wear it on every single ride from now on.

After the post-ride festivities (which Brian spent laying on the grass, trying not to throw up), Brian and I headed to a local B & B where I immediately planted myself in the feather bed for the next 12 hours. No kids, no responsibilities, just recovery.

BEST PLAN EVER. If Brian and I both do something similar again, we will spend the night away from home. Kids don't deserve the people we are after an event like that and we don't deserve the difficulty of kids after aforementioned event.

In the past week, I have done nothing.

Ok, that's not true. I have done lots of things, none of which were athletic. I have had no desire to get off my ass and I am cool with that. I am waiting for the desire to get off my ass to hit me and then I will get on my bike and I will run and I will lift weights and whatever. Just not today.

To close out this novel-length blog post, here's a picture of Brian and I at the top of Kebler Pass. Sixty miles he pulled me. I love this guy.


Mark Brodis said...

Love the comments and pictures. That race was nuts! I was one of the many that cracked and bailed on the dirt climb, that was just brutal! I have tried to explain to my friends (mostly to not seem like an utter wuss) how unbelievably hard it is to ride 100 miles then just for fun tack on a 28 mile time-trial at the end...on dirt...which climbs 5400'...OMG! Great job even finishing and 2nd is so many leagues, categories, levels (and any other quantifiable measure) above me I can't even imagine it...but great job! :)

Eryn Barker said...

Mark, don't get too excited. I probably stopped AT LEAST 8 or 9 times on the climb. My internal dialogue went something like this: "Damnit, I paid a lot of money for this. I WILL finish it." At least until I stopped 200 vertical feet later.

That was so so painful.

Next year?