Monday, January 10, 2011

Reality Bites: WBL#4

Oh My God. Oh, My, God.

Oh My God.

That was a really tough ride last Saturday. It is Monday and my legs have finally stopped cramping and I managed to leave my bed this morning. I am ready to reflect on last Saturday morning's WBL#4, 92 miles to Bowman Ga.

It was a sunny and cool morning as the riders congregated....
After last week's ride with a hill crackage and then massive crackage at the sprint zone, I knew that I needed to be at my best.  I prepared as best I could without actually losing any weight. A mountain bike ride last Monday, a tough 50 miles on Wednesday, yoga, recovery and Saturday was here. We headed out of town on Nowhere Rd and even in the first hour it felt...hard. Roller after roller came and went without any peaceful easy feelings.  Since I don't have a cyclocomputer on my bike, I had no idea the pace. I just figured it hurt and that I must be having a bad day. I was determined to hang tough and did manage to survive through the pee break and almost to Bowman. And then the first sign of the day's cyclopocalypse. I swear it seemed to be the exact same grade and length of hill that I barely made it over last week. It was long but the grade started off not  too bad. I'm on the front of the saddle with a fairly high cadence for about 2 minutes, when, of course, the death s-quad at the front decided the second half of the hill, which of course got steeper, needed to be felt just a little more deeply... Here is a photo of the death s-quad troops.

Faster, there are antelopes trying to cycle with us
I also snapped a picture of the guy at the front when the hammer went down, I think he is the captain of death-quad cycling team:
The top of his body wouldn't show up on the camera as the guy is only 135lbs. The point is the peloton hit the hill hard and I began to fall back. MarkYMark tried to encourage me...
Hey Kogan, I got your cadence right here!

But it didn't matter, I slid off the back well before the end of the hill.When the front group gets to the top of the hill they make this sound like a war cry, kind of a cross between a long "woohoo!" and and Indian war cry from the movies. Seriously, they make that sound. I am thinking that this warbling call has some sort of  meaning like,  "hey I'm at the top of the hill and I still have enough wind left to do a warbling war cry!" Of course I now associate this cry with being off the back. Now, in case I am confused about where I am in relation to the peloton, when I hear that call I know I am at least 30 yards behind the last rider and heading backwards.

I did catch up with a few other guys who were off the back and we rolled in 5 miles later into the store stop like Antelopes on parade.
Oh, hi there cheetahs! Been here long? Is there any Gatorade left?
So it was a tough day and I would later find out that the pack had been averaging 22mph according to MarkYMark, not just cheetah pace, but Cheetahs on meth. And that was the easy part of the day, because after a 5 mile stretch of road post rest stop, we turned right heading west or south into a 218 mile per hour head wind for the final 40 miles of the ride. I was already dying before we turned and I thought, I've got to get farther to the front, maybe I am in  the accordion and if I got up farther it would feel easier. I took a right  turn tight through a gravelly shoulder and got myself back into the front 1/3 just as we faced the wind. The next 400 yards were ridiculous. I though it was just the typical stand up and sprint for 40 yards to catch up after a turn but I stood up, started sprinting in the drops to catch up but wasn't catching up. So, I kept on sprinting, head down, out of the saddle everything I had. Not only was I not catching the wheels ahead, I think 400 riders were rolling by me. I might as well have been walking. I thought, Oh shit, this is going to be a really long day getting dropped with 40 miles to go.

Yummm, the sound of Antelope cracking!
 I was not alone, I had company fighting the wind to Watson Mill State Park and beyond towards Winterville. We were an intrepid bunch, ready to fight for every inch of road, fighting for our pride.

Does anyone know a short cut home?

Honey, can you pick me up? I'm so tired I'm starting to look like John Kerry.
Desperate for anything to power my bike in the wind I reached for my secret weapon:
Slow down Cheetahs, I'm coming!
But it wasn't enough. At one point I turned to MarkY and said, "Well I guess we really are antelopes aren't we?" MarkY just laughed. I was glad he was still laughing because earlier, I tried to give him a little assist like I see the other riders doing and nearly pushed him off the road.

Our little group was running out of steam, so in the place where the real ride gee'd, we haw'd and cut off about 10.5 miles from the 92 mile route. Fortunately, 10 miles represented the 30-40 minutes of time that the pack was ahead of us, so we were able to re-join the front group towards the end of the sprint zone.

I'm thinking to myself, "OhMyGod these guys are really strong. What the hell am I doing trying to keep up with these monsters?" Cruising towards home after the sprint,  I rode along side the Cheetah Jefe. He said that this was a really fast day and there were a lot of pros pushing the pace. 

I talked to another dude in the parking lot after we got back who said he had done every WBL for the last 3 years and that this was the hardest. I'd have been comforted except that he was 70 years old and didn't get dropped until the sprint zone (25 miles after I was dropped).

So I survived an abbreviated route, putting in about 80 miles. I am planning to bring my headphones to future rides so I can listen to music during those long lonely miles in the Georgia countryside dreaming of hanging with the pack. I may not be fast, but dammit I plan to show up.


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