Monday, April 29, 2013

Cobutta 100

Before I move on to the Left Coast trip, let me say a few words about the Cohutta 100, which I "raced" this past weekend.


That's just two, but it pretty much sums things up.
It started off well enough. DJ Charkie and I rolled into Ducktown at about 8:30pm, and having missed the mexican food and 32oz beers (me anyway.... Charkie's nailed to the x and all that) we went straight to "the stinky duck place" and met up with Rich and Luke.
We got our bikes ready-ish, drank some beer, talked about all the many guises of trouble, laughed a lot and made Charkie an overnight sensation with this gem. Burt Reynolds meets Freddie Mercury meets GG Allin.
Despite refusing to be one.... Charkie is all man.
Half of the interweb thinks this is me at this point, and I'm ok with that.
Here's a picture of Charkie's alter-go: Charkie.
"This one goes out to the bride and groom!"

Yeah... I got to share a bed with this sexy bear. The best part? He didn't snore. (One of my most vivid memories of CX Worlds is spending a whole night yelling "Turtle! Turtle!!! Shut the f*** up!!!")

I remember waking up at one point in the wee hours of the morning and hearing it pouring rain outside.
Quarter inch over the course of the day, my ass. It had already rained about an inch by the time we got out of bed.
We woke up to Rich's kazoo version of the final countown, and started testing the plumbing in the hotel. It held up better than I imagined.
Some shite coffee from Hardees and on to the start.
There was lots of second guessing on what to wear at the start. I went with the initial weather projections of diminishing chance of rain all day and didn't bring my rain coat.
Possibly the worst decision ever.
I've been crunching the numbers and by my exhaustive calculations, amid a history of epic meltdowns, this was the most melting down I've ever done during a race. Ever.
My first year of Cohutta was punctuated (punctured, if you will) with 3 flats, which meant I was very well rested during the actual riding portion of the race. I rolled in when I rolled in... meh. Nuff said. Last year they changed the course and I came away with a 7th place Single Speed finish thinking that this was now the hardest of the NUE races in my bag... beating out the 101 and SM100 on the sufferometer.
This year.... what happened between mile 65 and 107 was a first  for me. I couldn't choke down food. Couldn't make myself drink anything. Was shivering uncontrollably. Couldn't feel my hands or feet. Everytime a pickup truck drove by I considered telling them that I had a $100 in cash back at my car and would gladly pay them to just take me there. Total misery.
When I stopped to pee at mile 70 (or so I told myself, but really I was just looking for an excuse to stop riding for a moment), what came out was bright orange.
At that point I'd worked my way up to 4th place Single Speed. I hoped to maintain that position, but as the passed single speed riders began, in turn, to pass me one by one, my morale waned (plummeted) and I sank further into misery. My thoughts turned dark.
This is a hard race for a few reasons. My head always goes to a rough place. This is mostly because driving out the the venue, I always pass within sight of the Balsam Mountain Inn, where my ex-wife and I got married. It stirs up a lot of emotion, and when I show weakness, that emotion always goes for the jugular.
As I was trudging along, head down, I thought about the happy times, the horrible times, what went wrong, about our awesome little boy and how resilient he is....about all of the shit that you have to push away on a daily basis just to maintain.

The final section of singletrack was absolutely brutal. Total slop. As I walked up some of the slight grades, my steps were not the deliberate, quick-stride I usually employ when I have to walk any section, but were those of a drunken, defeated man.
I whispered nonsensical curses toward some made-up entity named Cohutta, telling him I was going to fight him and that I hated him and why? why was he being such a dick right now? My front brake was toast at this point.... and descending in the slop was absolutely s***curdling.
Ugh. I could barely even feel elated when I crossed the bridge toward the finish, though I did manage my sometime-usual victory karate kick. (picture coming)
Rich was already done with his race, all cleaned up and sipping "coffee" which he generously poured into my freshly gained Cohutta mug. I needed it... thanks man.
I wolfed down some food and then reluctantly went to clean my cold miserable body up in the cold river.
In the past, the river has been a boon... a great cool down after a hot race, but this time... it kind of sucked.
The mud was everywhere, having long crept inside of my bigs. The only clean part of my body was between my knees and upper thigh, thanks to the Verge knee warmers.

Luke rolled in soon after me, having had a similar meltdown.
When Charkie came across, he was destroyed. "I seriously underestimated how hard that would be," he said, barely looking up.
He picked a doozy, for sure. Cohutta, by rights, shouldn't be this hard. It's 65 miles of gravel road and 35 of single and double track. In the scheme of things, that's not much trail. And the trail that is in it isn't particularly challenging. At least not in comparison to races like Wilderness 101 and Shenedoah Mountain 100. It's actually fun and easy, honestly.
But something about the volume of climbing and the grade of some of the hills... It takes it out of you. The climb out of Potato Patch at mile 50ish is absolutely soul-crushing.
Two days later and I still feel it. The bottom of one foot is bruised. My left wrist is jacked. The slightest pressure on my quads is excruciating. And I'm just f***ing tired.

And PMBAR is only 4 full days away.
I am so smrt.

I almost wish I'd done the Big Frog 65 like Rich... or stuck around town and raced the River's Edge. Morgan came in second, crossing the line with winner Tommy Rodgers at virtually the same moment. Eric Sauer took second SS. And I hear that it didn't rain on them until the awards.
Lucky bastards.
One day.... one day I'll show up to one of these events prepared. With some real miles and training under my belt. (Ha. I'll believe it when I see it.) If I could manage to train, I think.... who knows... But whatever.
I've yet to manage that, so it's all moot. I just wing it. And I know it's early, and that no one is ready. But a lot of people are. It would be one thing if I didn't have high expectations. But I do and always manage to disappoint myself.
Maybe I really can race myself into shape....
Or maybe I'll just race myself into the ground.
Either one sounds like a plan at this point.
It's better than nothing.

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