Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot Enough to Suck the Life out of You


^ Chasing up the first climb

Local, yet foreign. The Tour de Tykes race in Danville, PA is only a 20 min drive out of the Gap. Just hop on Rt. 54 West, twist through some Pennsyltucky mountains and farms and then I’m there. It’s funny that this place is so close and I only ride there once a year as I am fortunate enough to have an abundance of state forest just a 5 – 10 minute ride from the homestead. Anyway the Tour de Tykes still feels like my home turf and is one of my favorite XC races. Must have something to do with the steep ups and downs mixed in with some well groomed simgletrack which also includes a rock or two.

Before the start I could already feel the heat baking me like a potato, so I decided to start hydrating a little bit. After a warmup and 80 fl/oz. later I was ready to go back home and lay in the air conditioning, but there was a race to be had first. The usual suspects were there minus Aaron, Matt, Rob, Harlan and maybe one or two others. From the gun I was ready to go. In the past this has been one of few races where I am able to get the holeshot, because of the steep fireroad climb which begins the hammerfest. Unlike other years, I had to settle for 3rd going into the singletrack. Jeff Schalk blasted up the climb first, followed by Kyle who also failed to capture his patented Hammaker Holeshot. I still had a decent gap on the rest of the field, so I just sat back and watched Kyle and Jeff duke it out up the second long climb of the day just before the course becomes mostly singletrack. Jeff kept his lead and I caught up to Kyle as he recovered from his efforts. I made the pass on Kyle and settled into my own groove being careful not to go too hard in the 90 some degree temperatures accompanied by what was probably 60% – 70% humidity. Glancing back approaching the midpoint of the race, I was able to see either Wes or Ryan in the distance. Pushing a little bit harder I was able to increase the gap and disappear. The midpoint of the race was reached around 50 minutes in, which was much longer than I expected. I had thought that the race would take somewhere around an hour and a half…. I guess I have to pay better attention to previous years’ times. However, this was also a bit of good news as this gave me a little bit more time to continue to chase down Jeff. The second half of the course is slightly more technical. The steeps are a bit steeper and the rocks are more persistent. Having a few years of racing on this course is a definite help for the sections where sudden and drastic downshifts are needed to grind up the trail. Throughout this section, I kept as smooth as possible dancing around the jagged rocks to avoid the infamous flat tire. After another 40 minutes of playing the bike game I approached the final, notorious, “Moondance Climb”, a steep powerline that is littered with loose rocks…. Its exposure also makes this climb hot enough to boil your skin if you spend too much time there. At the bottom I was unable to see Jeff, so I knew my place would be 2nd for the day as long as nobody was behind me. A quick glance over my shoulder gave me some reassurance before I took on the final climb. After one final section of downhill singletrack I clocked in around 1:52:ish, about 2 min behind Jeff.

Today was another hotter than hell day in Locust Gap. With the Cowbell Challenge 12 Hour race only two weeks away, I decided to put in a 4 hour road ride so I could get used to hating the heat, which will probably be inevitable in Charlotte, NC. The road was reluctantly chosen solely because riding in singletrack when the temps are in the 90’s just isn’t hot enough for my liking. Around 1:00 (an hour into the ride), I saw my first roadside thermometer which read 96. Not too shabby. As the ride continued, I was feeling the effects from racing yesterday, but it was too late to turn around. From my location any direction that I would choose to go home would suck. If I turned straight back, I would have 3, 1,000 ft. climbs to tackle with some rollers in between and if I continued on route, which I did, I would be back home 3 hours later with little climbing as I would wind through the valley and the surrounding farmlands. Another hour into the ride and I had to stop and get some more fluids to fill my bottles. When I went into the general store at Pillow, I couldn’t believe that they did NOT have just plain water. There was a little bit of flavored crap, Gatorade, and iced tea. The tea was packed with sugar, so I nabbed it (bad choice). I filled my bottles up and an hour later they were gone and I could feel the mixture of bad tea and sugar swirling around in my belly. Soon I approached a gas station and stopped to get some water to dilute my stomachs contents. Half an hour later and my poor little belly was feeling much better, but my legs had had it. Only 20 minutes more and I would be home. Immediately upon arrival, I mixed up a giant recovery milkshake to cool down, rehydrate, and refuel. The salt stains on my kit indicated that something else would have to follow for proper recovery as soon as the heat/sugar induced nausea would go away. That little something ended my short lived days as a straight edge kid. When your riding in 100+ degrees, there’s no better way to recover than with beer and pretzels! It was damn good and there are absolutely no regrets after pounding down a cold one. Tomorrows the last day of this heat wave, and I’m taking off of riding till it cools down to the 80’s. Maybe I’ll check and see if any huckleberries are ready for pickin.

2 comments:

xrobx said...

you sell out

Kevin Deibert said...

by not having a beer, you would have been "selling" yourself short.

its all about the quality of life.