Yesterday turned out to be a rough day. Immediately after Vet's Park on Saturday I picked up whatever Kristie had the previous week. For those of you that have managed to hold off the sore throat of all sore throats this fall, congrats. But having that absolutely killed me for the week. It was all I could do to sleep through the night let along ride my bike. I did manage to get in a whopping 75 minutes over two rides on Monday and Wednesday though. And each of those made me feel worse than I did before, so that was helpful.
Anyway, I decided to head up to the Iceman on Saturday morning instead of staying up there on Friday night like was planned.
The last time I did the long drive in the morning was for my first Slush Cup experience back in 1997. The drive is "only" two hours to Kalksaka from here, which aside from the 5:00 a.m. departure isn't too terrible. I managed to fall onto the packet pick up area by accident while trying to find the high school. I was a bit surprised to see such a major operation operate on the floor of a small room like that. In years past having the pick up area inside at the middle school was a pretty good set up. However, the new start format is significantly better.
I rolled to the start expecting to be able to drop my jacket off, but I was running very late and couldn't find anyone before the whistle blew and everyone started riding. Oh well, I rode the whole thing with waaay too many clothes, but I figured it is better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed for a 30 mile point to point race, just in case something happens.
So aside from my relatively hectic start the first hour of the race went pretty well for me. I felt good, not great, and kept up a good pace heading into Williamsburg road. I don't remember if it was before or after Williamsburg, but right around 1:10 into the race I started to feel it...
If you don't know what "it" is, read THIS from 2008 or THIS from 2007 and you'll start to get a picture.
And speaking of pictures, I am literally so desperate trying to figure out how to NOT cramp during longer races that, per suggestions from the inter-web, this was my pre-race preparation:
So what is desperate? Desperate is saving pickle juice for the past five weeks, buying a travel size shampoo bottle, packing this delicately in my race bag, carrying it upside down in my jersey pocket, and hoping that I wouldn't need it.
But of course, like every MTB race I've done for the past three years, shortly after an hour into the event it starts. On Saturday it started in feeling just a bit sluggish going into Williamsburg road. Although it's a bit of a drag up there, it isn't like I should be rolling as slowly as I was at that point. Ok, settle in a bit and don't push it...
(Which is basically code for you might as well pack it in, because it isn't going to get any better.)
So over the next 13 miles or so, I flirted with pushing on the pedals and backing off enough not to start to seize. And when I did feel a flare up, as soon as I could get them under control I took a shot of pickle juice. So back to being desperate, you have no idea what that's like until you slam pickle juice in a race...
I knew after Williamsburg that my chances for doing well were out the door and it was just a mtb ride, not a race, at that point. So I rolled it in, basically soft pedaling for the last 10 miles. Anita's hill hurt like a beast as I walked up. But amazingly with about 5k to go my legs started to feel a bit better. So I started to roll it a bit, and I was passing people left and right. That is until the trail turned up for just 50 m too long, and my left hamstring cramped so badly it forced me off my bike, hunched over in pain. More than 24 hours later that hamstring still is not right.
I crossed the line in 2:01.10. I haven't gone slower than 2 hours since I was 16 years old in my first Iceman. Granted, the courses back then were much shorter than yesterday's edition, but still... And to make matters even worse, 13th place was the same time as mine, so I couldn't even break that tie. 14th place in the 28-29'ers.
One cool thing was riding my Stumpjumper 29'er for the first time in an Iceman. The past four times I had raced Mr. Ice I was on my 26" F3000. Riding on 29" wheels was a lot of fun for a course like that.
I wish I could actually race the Iceman someday and not just ride the thing. Yeah that would be nice.
Congrats to those that did.