Tuesday, June 18, 2013

b2b Ride Number Eight

Steve, Tom, John, Brian

If there's one thing I can take away from this, my 8th Harpoon Brewery to Brewery excursion is it will never ever  be easy or pain free mentally nor physically no matter what  shape you are in.  There are parts of this ride that will tear you up into little pieces if you let it.  It will test your tenacity level  and give you lots of practice  honing your skills at pushing back fatigue that quite simply makes you want to just get off the bike and call it a day. That being said, It really is a fun ride.

As tough as the day can be, I have never once rolled into the brewery finishing the ride without being rewarded (albeit short ) but always the same: A rush of adrenaline that comes with clarity as if it were the very first ride back in 2004.   The day flashes through my mind of all the rest stops, happy helpful volunteers that make this ride what it is. Sometimes minor glitches we've overcome as a group but always it's the same.  The sense of relief  combined with sheer joy that I made it another year. No crashes, no mechanicals and the sense of gratitude that not only am I fortunate to be able to finish the ride but also with  my past experience(s) I can filter quicky through the low points of the day knowing there are plenty of high notes right up the road.

This is typically how the day unfolds: I am literally up almost an entire
24 hours.
3:40 AM- alarm
5:15 -arrival and setup
6AM- roll
3:30/4:30- arrival to VT
6pm - 2+ hour drive back to the waterfront in Boston
8:30 PM-collect bike and drive home (stop at McDonalds for my once a year large fries and vanilla shake)
Mattress dive by11PM but wired from all the caffeine consumed by gels
and rocket fuel (coke/sports drink mix) needed after mile 75.

This year for the first time, I worked the packet pick up on Friday night at the Brewery ( they promised a case of beer!!) It's an option if you don't want to deal with it the race morning. I guess I never really paid much attention to how many women actually do the ride but that night, it was raining testosterone. I don't think I got
one woman in my section of L-M to retrieve a packet. 

As intimidating as the ride might project to many, it runs like a well oiled machine with a concierge at your finger tips out there all day.
  Between the rest stops, The Mavic dudes in the bright yellow (reasurring ) car.  The Cycle Loft
too has a car out there sometimes creeping by to  heckle or tell you that you *look great* when it is crystal clear you do not.

I managed the day well in retrospect but not without a few minor bumps.  I borrowed my friend/Hup team mate Ana's race wheels to lighen the load for the day. They are tubulars and as comfortable as I am dealing with tubulars, I decided I would only carry one can of Pit Stop and some spare air.
Changing out my cassette on Ana's speedy race wheels b4 the ride

A clean cassette is a happy cassette
Not 25 miles into the ride, the can popped out of my  jersey pocket and rolled into the street.
It took me seconds to zip around and head back for it.

Car one- "please don't roll over that! Phew..."
Care number two- "Pleeeeze don't hit that!"  Phew...
Care number three- "OMG.. I can go get the can after this car goes by!"

Kaboom
My can exploded under the car's wheel. It wasn't even rolling at that point so I don't
understand how they couldn't have seen it or me with my hands in prayer postion, eyes locked on it
to retieve.  Instantly the color drained from my face. I was essentially screwed with
no back up for my wheels. I would have to wait for the Mavic gods to save me
IF I flatted.  Within 20 minutes I forgot about cans of Pit Stop and deflating tubulars. No sense
wasting energy on something I couldn't control or predict.

By mile 60, I begain to get slighty concerned. The first 50 didn't click off quickly like they have in the past and my quads started to burn on any hills, short or long way too early in the game.

A mile or so before the 75 aid station stop, a rider behind me informed
me that he could clearly see my right rear brake pad dragging. I thanked him
and rolled in to have it adjusted. ( Thank you Anthony from Cycle Loft)  I was relieved that
 I could most likely point to this as the cause of my premature leg fatigue.  I trained for this ride the most I ever have.  Two centuries and countless rides with plenty of undulating if not
grinding long hills.  It just didn't add up.

For the remainer of the ride my focus was on hording my remaining matches the best I could
I tucked in where ever I could and took no turns pulling in our group mainly because
I just couldn't. I never really got to shake things out and find my legs.
I averaged 17.8 last year and this year was a struggle to average 16.5.

It is what it is. 
 This is not a race but I would be lying if I didn't say I was slightly disappointed.
Long gone is the innocence of knowing nothing but - I'm riding my bike to Vermont!!-
With experience comes expectations.
 My advice if you have this on your bucket list: (and you should!) Prepare as you feel needed but as my friend Skip told me, "It's a sneaky ride an it can go either way."


Beer.
Make that the carrot in front of your imaginary cart and
Just. Keep. Pedaling.

The Prize 

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