Monday, April 27, 2015

Come to think of it, on hindsight, the weekend was brutal. Hermann Gravel Challenge(part 3)

Hello! I first want to apologize for it now being 2 weeks after Hermann and now finishing up the race report. I have good excuses, but yes they are excuses.  A. I've been busy. Work at the Trek Store has been very much. B. I don't have internet access at my place. Come to think of it, I don't even have a computer. So all posts have to be done at work after hours. C. I don't have a fancy dangfangled computer phone that can be used to take pictures with. Only a neglected undesired budget digital camera(that Annette kinda made fun of) purchased by my work in 2008, but deemed too crappy to use even for a paper weight. There is potential, however, said Olympus camera could be used to ignite a campfire due to its sparking. So pictures I take have to be uploaded the old fashioned way, by cord and plug ins.

This isn't a sob story, just explanation as to why blorgging takes me FOREVER! Man can you imagine how slow blorgging must have took in 2000. Geez. Moving on.  Hermann DAY 2 (part 3). I'm gonna try to keep this post short-ish.

I decide to sleep in til an hour before start time. I do not get Hardees and even got to the start line late just as the ride was starting and pull a 180 skid stop in front of every one cutting them off, thus falling into place with the front group. If you go to the Hermann Gravel Challenge FB, you may still be able to find a video posted by my team mate Adam Clarke of the Sunday start. My skid is at the beginning, haha.

The whole start until about 2 miles on the Katy was not nearly as cut throat as the morning before. As in totally chill. About 8 or so dudes road off the front, but wasn't a real ish. Slow and steady was my rule for the day. Things were all cool and dandy in the pace line until about 6-7 miles out when my boy Benji tagged the wheel of the dude in front of him and got hella sketch at 21mph. Oh, and with about 40 other riders behind him, and me on Benji's wheel. I some how pulled a quick skid and then hard pedal off to his left and pulled out of that pace line with a quickness that only a good catholic boy could do. While doing so, I caught a glimpse of sheer terror in his face as Benji had to of been clenching his poop hole so tight that one would be hard pressed to squeeze a toothpick up it. Just sayin'. All was regained and fast pace continued.

Next we came up on a huge fallen tree across the trail. From all the mtb races I've done, one of the important lessons I've learned was this. Don't get caught up in the bottleneck! I was about 8 guys back when the group began slowing to the natural barrier, so, I do the opposite and sprint my ass off around them through the grass to be the first to get there and over. I pull a flawless cx dismount to shouldering of my bike to jump on the first branch. Then do a balancing act of dancing on the branches one after the other until I got back to the Katy Trail on the other side of this fallen giant tree. Then followed by a perfect cx remount. By the time I looked back I was 40 feet down the trail and the first guy was just getting over. It was sick. I immediately used this time for recovery and spun at a manageable speed knowing full well there'd be no way of me actually dropping a group of geared riders on a flat gravel rail trail.

To my surprise though, there was the lead group just down the trail aways. It looked like Jesse had some sort of mechanical, but everybody else was just lingering around so I just kept a moving. Up the Katy further was Wes on his ss. We decided to just keep rollin' and wasn't long before everybody  rolled up from behind and swallowed us up. We both then held in the pace line for the next 8 miles. Always to spun out to actually be sustainable, but not willing to loose the draft. I was just border line seeing stars when the group began to slow for a exit off the Katy trail.

We still had a impressive amount of dudes hanging with the lead group as we exited into Portland, Mo onto hwy 94. Luckily we had a mile long sneaker of a climb that helped shake some folks out. One of those climbs that ordinarily wouldn't be a issue, but after spinning yer legs off at 120 rpm for 18 miles of flat, proved to be quite the contrast and took some mental override to not show weakness to the the other SSers. So I kinda just drilled it to the top, with hope there would be no repercussion. There wasn't!

The lead group then widdled down to about 14 I remember counting. The pace also totally slowed to a very manageable happy, hey we are on a Sunday pleasure ride, speed. It was super enjoyable for the next 25 miles and super easy to keep tabs on everybody in the group. I was even able to write and sing a monkey/banana song to Nate Means about monkeys and banana's. Yep! He seemed indifferent, thats ok Nate. Wes, Tyler from Walts, and me were the only SSers left. At some point though we lost Tyler. Them's the breaks though. Around this time I also noticed that one of the geared riders that was still with us had legit road tires on his cx bike, haha. It was awesome! Carlos Matias Mendigochea, that was rad, cuz we were flying down some of those gravel descents and you were right there with us. You also probably thought my tires were way overkill, which they were, if only I could have told you my reason. Anyways, nice work dude.

The last 4 miles of the first loop was half Katy trail and half pavement back over the bridge into Hermann. I was feeling kinda shelled with a bit of a bike ride hangover from the day before, and with the expectation of the rest of the geared riders to most likely drill it for the road section. I confided in Wes that I'd probably crack. Well they hit it hard for about a mile as I fluttered off the back. I was just about to fall off the tale end when I just wound my legs up and got up into the group. I some how found a little niche where one would expect the cross wind to hit them, but for some reason I was just blocked enough by the dude in front of me and held in there, whew!

Rolling into the park I pulled up right to my van on the driveway and dumped bottles for new ones grabbed Clif bars and decided last minute to drop some clothes off. I also took a little potty break next to van(where nobody could see me) knowing there hadn't been a group pee yet and should get everything out while stopped.  Then a hustle over to the check-in pavillion and then over to meet back with the group. They were taking too long so my best interest was to keep the legs warm and start pedalin' out the 2nd loop.

I once again had the expectation of the group immediately catching me, but strangely took 'em longer than expected. It was also at this moment about 2 miles out that I realized I forgot to put my Clif bars in my pockets and left them lying in the van. My response to this was "let's see just how long this will last." They finally rolled up on me and by the first climb they all agreed on a group pee break. Figures. So I carry on allowing them to catch me, and not me wait and then try to hold on and burn matches.

Soon they catch up and I do a head count and are down to 6 of us. To be able to hold on this long on the second day of Hermann is in my mind incredible, and still wasn't sure how I was doing it? I did a inventory of what foodies/liquids I had for the remainder of the ride and it was one Hammer gel and two bottles, one half full of Accelerade. Once again I tell myself " Well lets just see how long before I crack?" knowing it was eminent.

By this time we were 70 miles out of 105 into the ride. Who was left was Lawrence, Jesse M., Turbo, Brian Bradley, Wes, and Me. The pace began to pick up again and I actually fell off the back to were I was almost just out of sight of those guys. There was something strange about the rollers we were on. The descents were just mello enough for pedaling to be useless, but not enough to coast at the same speed as the others. The turns were also just shallow enough that they didn't have to brake, so they slowly put kind of a crazy gap on me. I was almost about to call it and just settle into my "just finish the ride" pace when I started thinking about AJ, my friend from the NUE Series that had just passed away. Kind of a flood of emotions engulfed me and I just all of a sudden felt like I had strength again. To be honest, it almost felt like he was there giving me just a gentle push. When I was almost back up to them I remembered that I had the Hammer gel so knowing without food the pace was not sustainable I swallowed that dumb thing down, and floated up to those dudes wheels.

It seemed only moments after I caught back on that Lawrence started throwing in attacks on the rest of us to shake us up, even though he denies it. Don't worry dude, I actually thought it was awesome and love when people do that. Makes things interesting. Brian and Jesse got a little jostled around and started to fall off the back, but then snagged back on. We then hit a few more climbs that were beginning to wear on me. It was right at 80miles in. I looked over at Wes and commented on how crazy it is that we were able to do what we were doing on one speed bikes. Its a thought that always comes to mind during that time of a long race/ride. Its something that still honestly to this day blows my mind. That the human body can adapt and push that far into strength and endurance. It was also at this moment that I truly had given all that I had and knew there was no longer any way I could counter any of the attacks and accelerated  pace,  so I detached and watched them roll away.

I had no food left and about half a bottle to get me 25 miles. Had I tried to hang on major bonkville would have crippled me. Either way you look at it though, I finally got pooped out the back. So survival mode kicked in, and sally fourth I did. Those dudes mustn't have really been too far ahead of me though, cuz after a few miles I came out of the woods and into a open pasture and across the way I saw one of the riders cruising up the gravel just after a turn. Moments later I roll up on Brian Bradley from Dirty Dogs Race Pack, and he had just remedied some weird rear derailleur problem. He was back on his bike and from that point on we rode the rest of the ride together. We were 85miles in and just a spit away from cashed out. Him on gears me on ss. We just decided it was best to roll in together and have the company and good company it was.

Just a few miles down the road is when it began. The sky began to open up and rain on us. Later on we found out that the park in Hermann got crazy stormed on and everything there was trashed. We just got cold and wet. Which for me was bad because it then just incinerated what was left of  any nutrition I had left in my system, and yep the super bonk was on the horizon. I tried to fight it, but to no avail. I had no water left and no foods, but carry on I did. You see when I bonk, I start to just slow down and down and down. I mentioned to Brian at about 95 miles how I was slowing down and had no food and he could move right along if my pace was to slow for him and he said " no dude, this is still good enough. do you need something to eat?" I politely declined his offer telling him I wanted to see just how far I could push. Well, apparently its about 2 miles. We were at the base of the last gravel climb before descending to the road section back to Hermann park when I gratefully accepted his offer on some Cliff shot gummies. Within minutes I was good enough to at least stay on his wheel for the remaining 6 miles in of pavement. It made life much more enjoyable. I promised him a fancy beer when we got back and he replied with me not owing him anything. Thanks Brian!

We made it in to the park, I'd say two notches away from deathmarch status. Maybe one notch. Our arrival was by no means with power, but we also were not damning the world. Brian insisted that I go through the check-in first, but I insisted he go first cuz of him pulling me in the last 6 miles and giving me food. He then strongly insisted again that I go first. I ask "Are you sure? Positive? Really Positive?" He said "yes". I said "OK".

We got in at 6hrs 17min if I remember right, and
about 105 miles. I got 5th and Brian got 6th for the day. I ended up with 5th for the overall for both days. finishing both days like I did left me feeling super confident and at least physically ready to crush Cohutta.

My friend Wes Boyce got 1st for both days. Way to destroy it man! Your gonna tear DK a new one. Wes also ended up finishing up with Turbo and Lawrence with a time of 5hrs 50mins on Sunday. Crazy awesome to all three of you dudes!  Unfortunately Jesse was also, like Brian and I, pooped out from the leaders.

So now on a side note, I no longer ever want to hear anybody tell me again how SS's are inferior in any way. Wes and I proved it, by crushing many a soul at Hermann. All it takes is skillz, saddle time, and high pain threshold. Period.

So moving on I will now post pictures of post ride hang out sessions and stuffs. And, what I hope to be the first of my mini interviews .  Enjoy!

Dan Singer, Photo Mastor!

Me being wrecked hanging with the Walts Crew
Wrecked Lawrence

Wrecked Benji

Aero rockin' the mic

pig and banana
pig and banana dancing with friends

                                                      Annette from the Walts Crew. Also, I
                                                      know the glasses are dumb. I'm getting
                                                      new ones without the stupid transition
                                                      filament in it, and my nose was stuffy
                                                      from all the gravel dust.

My spoils, Wine, Gravel jar, Trophy.


And lastly, when I got back to St Louis, I had a insatiable urge for cheap china food. So I stopped at New China right by my house. Its usually pretty good for what it is and super family owned. One of the ladies had a baby and sometimes I see him running around the restaurant. So I like to support.

 The bummer part was that the food was very meh. It ended up being more than what I wanted and should have spent, and was served from plastic togo container with a styrofoam plate. I was also coming down off the high of a crazy fun  weekend. Along with thinking about AJ again since the news was still fresh. I will admit I started to get kinda bummed out. Sorry folks to be a wet blanket for a minute, but it gets better.

I wasn't given a fortune cookie so as I was asking for a top for my togo container, I also asked for a cookie.

The young lady was on the phone taking a order and just pointed to the box of cookies on the backside of the counter, so I grab one.

Its always tradition for me to eat the cookie entirely before reading my fortune. I also know that fortune cookies are a totally made up American thing. Which is funny. So upon breaking my cookie its already obvious that I was granted with 2 freaking fortunes! TWO, T-W-O, TWO fortunes!
I smash down that cookie like the Cookie Monster and get reading.  Lets just say it was at that moment that I knew things are going to be hella rad, and I need to just jump in with blind faith and continue doing what ever it is that I'm doing. Even though I'm not really even sure myself sometimes what that is.

Maybe I just look into things too deeply sometimes, or maybe its others that don't look deep enough.

Thanks again Jeff for putting on a great ride, and thanks everbody else for hanging out and riding bikes.And and my apologies for not keeping it short-ish. My bad, oops!


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