Thursday, September 6, 2012


Operation: Hydrate Or Die was in full swing following the Rivers Edge race. With the Shenendoah Mountain 100, one of my perenial favorite sufferfests, coming up... and with a solid year of completely neglecting adequate hydration (not to mention healthy eating, any kind of training (much less riding), dental hygeine (floss?), and clean living (F*** it!))... I had alot of water to consume.
It's hard to cram a year of hydration into one week, but I did my best. I even mixed chia seeds into the occasional water bottle.
Well... you see, they're supposed to absorb water, right? And somehow that... well... it makes them...... um..... more............hydrated? Or......something?
While I can't attest to their hydrating properties, (it didn't not work) I can attest to the fact that drinking a water bottle full of chia seeds is not unlike drinking a bottle of stagnant pond water full of tadpole eggs. (pondwater boba tea?)
Your body doesn't really say, "Yes please, May I have some more?" At least... mine didn't.
Barnyard, Librarybarry, the Redneck Swede, Dar and I all arrived mid afternoon on Saturday. We immediately went on a pre-race ride. I suppose to warm up? And to prevent us (me) from breaking prematurely into the cooler full of beer we'd (I'd) brought. It kind of worked... a little.
Then we cleaned up, and descended upon the staging area like a plague.

Where are your men-folk?!

Double fisting: chia seed tadpole water and Star Hill Brewing pale ale.
We stayed at the food and beer tent for a while, greeting the many ne'er do wells and misfits whose aquaintences we've made over the years.
Mark... officially joining the ranks of Revolting Cogs... despite his saddle.
Charles van MockOrangenburg and buddy Cooper. Plate number four.
I actually turned in at a decent time and spent the night laying on top of the sleeping bag sweating all of my hardworked hydration away. I bought this tent back in '98 while I was riding an ill-fitting Univega Alpina across the country. (At a point I decided that the tarp I was creatively stringing between anything semi-stable just wasn't cutting it anymore.) I splurged on a two man Mountain Hardware Skylight. It has a little window in the top made out of some sort of plastic not unlike a shower curtain. And not unlike a shower curtain, after 2 weeks whatever transparency it once possessed was long gone. The stars I saw so clearly that first night through this ill-thought out window to the sky now completely invisible. The seams around the "skylight" also proved to be a particular weak point in the design and are now simply regarded as "rain entry ports." Whether because I packed it up wet so many times over the years... or whether it's just bass ackwards.... my tent seems to have the impermeable/breathability thing flip flopped. No air is allowed to escape the tent once the rainfly is on, resulting in sweatlodge like conditions... and if it rains for more than 30 minutes, or with any kind of volume, then the rainfly shrugs and says "f*** it, dude. You're on your own."
And make no mistake. It rained this weekend. Not too much that night, but enough to require a well placed towel.
But during the race. Alot.

We were awoken at 4:30am by some poor bastard's car alarm. I panicked, thinking it must be me and having no idea where my keys were. Luckily I wasn't the culprit. It was time to get up anyway. With a 6:30 start, there was lots of eating, purging and second guessing to do.

Hey... I know. I'll raise my seat just a little too high at the last minute!

Barry and Mark

How f***ing old are these kids?!
They're lined up in the 8hour finish bracket with me!
The day started off pretty good. There was blue sky and some stars peaking out of the clouds as we lined up. Chris Scott announced that we were in store for a "beautiful day."
And we were off. I took it somewhat easy initially. Not killing myself to get to the front as usual, but keeping my SingleSpeed rivals within site. At least some of them. Some were long gone. I don't remember how far in we were when the first rain started. It was on gravel roads and some pavement, so nothing too bad. By the time I was making the first descent, it was gone. All that remained was a new sheen of slickness on the already slick roots and rocks.
By a series of very complicated and arduous calculations, I deteremined that Barnyard, Charles von Mockorangenburg and myself were floating around the 8th, 9th and 10th spots.
Rich was somewhere behind us, but close by, and we were jockeying back and forth with "the Corning dude" whoever he was.
There he is! Smirking at the camera... mocking us pre-race.
Charles, Barnyard and I jockeyed back and forth until Charles disappeared ahead of us. I kept holding out hope that he'd crack, but alas... no. Charles rolled in about 20 minutes ahead of me and 10 ahead of Ben, officially winning the unofficial "Battle of the Triad" swordfight we were having.
I pulled away from Ben on the long lax grade leading to "the death climb" (a horrible misnomer... as the real difficulty begins afterward: a series of grassy (in this case muddy and sloppy) jeep roads that bog you down and keep going.)) The moment it turned steep, Ben walked me down. Then... as we neared the top I felt it. Twinge turned to tightness. Tightness turned to paralyzing cramp. Oh well...
I didn't use to cramp. It's only this year that I've really been stricken with them. And without a doubt I can trace that to my piss poor hydration.
"Argh!" I yelled, stopping my bike in the middle of the road. As I swung my leg off the bike both of them seized up. I tried to keep moving, walking the bike through the cramp, but eventually had to stop and just wait for them to pass. Some Claussen pickle juice in a Hammer flask seemed to stop the cramp, but also turned my stomach to maelstrom. Once I reached the top and began bombing down a steep technical descent, I threw up in my mouth twice.
I managed to ride the entire last section of climb closing a good portoin of the large gap Ben and Charles had opened on me, but never caught up to them.
Then, I rolled down the ever exciting campground hill, into the grass and across the line.

Hey Ben... why don't we wear the white jersey tomorrow?!
Library Barry had hit a wall in the first half of the race and pulled the plug. I don't blame him. It was a long, rough day. He wasn't alone. Tons of people did the same, including Dicky. Oh... he has his excuses ("I'm saving myself for an unspectacular 12th place single speed finish at Fools Gold".... or something like that (as opposed to my amazingly spectacular 11th at SM100, that is). Dicky... if'n you don't make something of Fool's Gold, then it's all for naught. Naught, I tell you!
Hell yeah I've been here for a while! Hell yeah I'm drunk!
"Hell yeah, I quit! Hell yeah I'm drunk!"
I'd been aiming for 8:30, but ended up at 9:38... by my calculations, an hour off (will someone check my math?) Which is odd, because aside from the one spell of cramps, I kept moving the whole time. I was a little slower on the downhills this time, slowly pants-crapping my way down some of the rocky sections. And the long grassy jeep road was a pretty rough and slow slog. But I don't really know where the HOUR came from.  Next year.
I'm training and everything. Hydrating too.
Parallel to my long day, Dar had been in the kitchen cooking post-race food since 11:30am. She finally got out of there around 9:00pm.
But at least her right hand was super soft.
Smell the glove.
Morgan "the Redneck Swede" Ollson ended up 21st place overall with 8:31.
Despite the conditions, none of us were as wrecked as last year. Morgan could actually stand, for instance. And I didn't puke in the Leland Cypress by the shelter.
So... that's good, right?
I drank my fill of beer, ate 3 plates of food and after a little while called it a night.
Next year.
For real, this time.


  1. "Next year.

    For real, this time."

    Unless it rains, or you're weak, or just plain le tired.

    1. Precisely.
      Next year, for real this time in..."I will do the race again with results that once again beg the response "Next year.... for real this time."
      It's cyclic...