Monday, June 16, 2014

Whiskey Off Road Part End

Before I tell you about the end of the Whiskey off road, a moment of even further introspection.  (actually, this blog is pretty much all introspection and some amount of chest thumping, but you knew that already if you've read this far)

I have not posted in over a month.  Never got around to finishing the Whiskey ride report, never posted about the Moab Trip...and have not said anything about training, eating, kids, etc. for about 6 weeks.

Why?  Why?  riding and writing about it on this blog seem to be a lot of fun for me.  Why would I cut out part of it?  Was not work or personal stress, it was total self consciousness.  Silliness.  Time to face it head on and get back to having a little fun.

So here's the facing into it.

There are a bunch of true athletes here in the valley that i have much respect for.  All of them deride the self-indulgent blogs, BragBook postings, and generally schmoes like me talking about our "big" accomplishments.  And....they have a point.  I was cowed into not writing about one of the things I truly love to do, because I was worried about what others may think of my accomplishments, and my writing.  Damn.  I was right back in that place that made me miserable all those years ago and rears it's ugly head every once in a while for all of us.  Self doubt and self consciousness all rolled up into a nice tidy package.  

In the overall grand scheme of life, I know my accomplishments on the race course are nothing.  I overcome no physical, emotional, or major life hurdles.  I'm a regular guy with a loving family and great friends who likes to turn the cranks as often as I can.  Nothing to see here...move along.   On the writing front I have 110 problems.  Style is inconsistent, I never edit anything, and I use way to many ellipses.  

As often happens, I thought back to riding, and racing.  And the Whiskey.  (really, it's all coming full circle).  I posted a bunch of pics on FB about the nasty weather.  

This post ensued:
  •  Why on earth is it snowing somewhere in the end of April? And pray why did you decide to voluntarily ride through it??? Geez things we do for a kick!!
  • Rohit Bery why? that's a question a few folks have been trying to answer for a while. Suman may join you in this pondering.
  • Rohit Bery there's so little where you really get to prove a little tougher than you think you might be, by some objective measure say you might be a little tougher than the next guy. I won't be on a podium unless i keep doing this until i'm like 65 or so and there's only 3 of us in the race, so in the meantime, i'm happy to finish out of the bottom quartile, shoot for the top quartile, and on days like this, look at the DNFs and say..."not me"

So there's my answer.  I look at the DNFs and I say "not me"

Which brings us to...

Whiskey Off Road -- the final 25 miles

Up up and more up from Skull Valley to the Sierra Pieretta overlook.  This is the climb that defines the Whiskey.  2 years ago I ended this climb curled up on the side of the road, needing some serious help to get moving again. This year, I pointed the bike uphill, and started cranking.  

A I climbed (and it was definitely "I" at this point...the fast guys were long gone, and about 1/2 way up I saw the last of the people still descending), the temperature started to drop again and there was the occasional snow flurry or rain drop.  The climb is incredible because unlike most bike courses, you can look up and see the peak you are going for. 

It was shrouded in clouds and mist.  Some bizarre juxtaposition of The Hobbit and Raising Arizona.

The climb hurt.  When it started to hurt, it got steeper, so it hurt more.  Then it got steeper again.  and it hurt more.  Then, out of nowhere...the aid station that signals about 2/3 of the way up.  I stopped to refill the camelback and try to eat something.  everything tasted awful and threatened to come back, so I sucked down some water, and started up and up again.  

As the road went into the tall pines, there was a great little memorial to the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. I was alone, it was quiet, the pines muffled the wind...another one of those moments.

About 2 miles before the overlook, the road makes a sharp left hand turn.  this is where we usually find the insane party of the Whiskey 50 beginning.  Not so much today.  It was darn cold again.  There were 5 guys around a fire giving high fives and the occasional push...and they rocked.  

On the final steep road to the overlook i got passed by the women's single speed leader.  I thought to myself "damn, how'd you stay in front of the women's single speed leader this long?"  The race marshal and forest ranger manning the mini aid station at the overlook gave me the once-over, asked if i was OK (not in the head...they must have known i was so NOT Ok in the head if I was still out there) and waved me on.  That's when I noticed the mini bus FULL of riders waiting to be sagged down the mountain.  

Not me.  Not DNF.  Not today

so up the (really) steep short single track climb to start the long (mostly) descent to Whiskey Row.  My watch came back on briefly.  I was up at the peak at about 5:00.  This means I had climbed the Skull Valley to Sierra Pieretta in about 2 hours!  This was awesome. This was uplifting.  this made me go "YEAH!"

45 minutes later, 2 bacon hand ups, 2 insane downhills, one uphill (cramp hill) that I did not cramp on by did have to walk, 3 stream crossings and a ripping down Thumb Butte road and I was crossing the line on Whiskey Row.

I rode the 2nd 25 miles in exactly the time I was looking for.  I finished strong, I did not DNF, and I got myself another pint glass.

Overall, a great day on the bike