Monday, March 30, 2015

Barry-Roubaix by Captain Slow

So there's a Bad Dad who has chosen to be named Captain Slow.  I asked him to share this story on the blog because it occurred to me that despite the fact that we are getting older and more decrepit, the gang continues to do some cool stuff on bikes that we might want to remember one day.  And since the internet is forever...

Of course, there's another captain slow, but this ain't him.  I've been running with this guy since we were 12.  Captain Slow has the essence of what it takes to be a great cyclist.  Dude knows how to suffer.  Then, when it seems like there's no more suffering to happen, dude hits the reset button and suffers more.  While I was riding in the desert this weekend enjoying my 80 degrees and clear blue skies, this man was riding a gravel grinder in Michigan where it was just a little colder.  People here in Arizona may be hella fast, but the dudes in Michigan take the cake for crazy.  Two of the biggest off-road events of the year are up there, Iceman and BR.  Both are in shit weather.  Both are sponsored by breweries.  Both are just a little bit of awesome.    

I'll leave the rest to him:

Captain Slow Rides Barry-Roubaix

First off I need to say that I had no plans to do this race.  I don't know shit about gravel riding, those dudes are crazy.  What happened was that in January I started trying to get in shape, promised myself a new bike as a reward for the winter trainer miles, ended up showing up 4 days early for a sale because I am a genius, got the bike on sale anyway, and looking for dirt to ride on (our trails are still in full fat bike mode), decided to go check out a newbies clinic and pre ride for the BR that weekend.  What a great day.  Sun, 50 degrees, new bike, good hills, I kept up.  Way more interesting than my scheduled trainer ride, and a better workout.  I got all psyched and signed up for the race.  

But because I am not a gravel racer, I figured this should just be another training ride, and since it is time to start doing longer rides, I decided to sign up for the 36 mile race, instead of the 24 mile course that I had just ridden and thoroughly enjoyed.  What?  Yeah, that's what I did.  

So I had to get up a little early on race day because the day before, when I saw the forecast low of 9 and high of 32, I got so depressed that I went to bed without getting any of my crap together.  I got up at 7, sorted everything by 7:30, and got to the race and checked in and parked with plenty of time to sit in the car before the start.  It was beautiful and sunny and 10 degrees outside.  Everyone in the parking lot was camped out in their cars and every now and then someone would venture out to use the porta-johns or to put a number on a bike or something and then dash back in.

By the time my race started at 10:12 the temperature had soared to 12 degrees and at the line I was actually pretty comfortable.  That ended about a minute into the ride, because my lungs apparently cannot tolerate 12 degree air in any significant quantity, so I started wheezing, which made it hard to get oxygen, to which my body's response is apparently a feeling of impending projectile vomit.  This is mile 1 as I am trying to stay in the opening surge.  

So I dropped out of the pack, dialed it back, and went into survival mode for a few miles that I don't remember.  But one thing I've learned in years of doing races for which I am ill-prepared is how to do survival mode (the other is how to pack a car quickly).  And, it turns out that I can survive faster than I used to, so by the time conscious thought returned, I realized I was still ahead of pace and feeling really not too bad. 

But kinda cold.  At one point I realized I was in my small ring by accident and went to shift and had trouble, and realized that was because I could neither feel nor move my left thumb.

It turns out that several miles of the added distance for the 36 loop are paved, which helped my speed, but not my temperature.  Halfway into the race when we got back to dirt, and it had finally warmed up a little, I realized that I felt about 10 times better than at the start.  After a long slog up a road that has ruts deep enough to earn it special mention on the map (during which I made a major tactical error in staying right in an attempt to keep out of the way), we got back to the part of the course that I knew, and the rest was no problem.  My legs got a bit sore toward the end, then I got a huge cramp as I was dismounting in the finish chute.  I guess that is a better time for it than most.

Time wise the ride was good.  I averaged faster than on the pre-ride and was hoping for 2:45 and going to be pissed if above 3hrs, ended up at 2:40.  Still only good for 85th of 104 in my age group but I was legitimately with people the whole time, instead of my usual race situation of late, which is off the back and/or walking a broken bike along the trail to the nearest out.  (So much for "training ride".  Already justifying...)

I definitely need to keep working on endurance.  I think I could have pushed harder on hills but may not have made the distance.  I am a lot faster on the flats than I used to be so I was yo-yo-ing back and forth thru the same group for quite a while.

[Captain slow did this race on a Salsa Spearfish.  Most people do it on cross bikes.  I pointed this out to him...]  I was trying not to play up the bike issue but yes I'm sure a couple pounds and a bit more stiffness could have helped, perhaps at the expense of comfort.  And an increased risk for mech failure as I saw a lot of those.  Either way 10-15 mins would move me a long way up the standings and I think that with a less disastrous start I would be part way there.  So we'll see about next year.

There were some nice flat stretches where I was spinning along at 20 mph passing people with no particular hassle. That is road bike speed for me so hopefully I will be even faster on the road - though maybe not so much, this is a good bike.

It was up to 33 degrees (!) when I put the bike back on the car.  That was better but still a bit chilly for hanging out solo at the beer tent, and the crowd/line situation was dense, so after double fisting 2 beers I decided to ditch my 3rd ticket.  (sad)  My body was feeling some effects.  I bought some chili and it was not good so I threw it out.  Should have braved the line for the pulled pork.  Or maybe not.

So the take-away here is that I owe beer to my bike shop guy, because if he had followed the rules, none of this would have happened.

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