I should probably take a step back here as I head into the second loop of the bike (is writing this easier than riding was ? Hmm....) and talk about some of the nuts and bolts of what I was doing.
I bought some lemon-lime endurance gatorade power mix a week before the race on amazon.com and had two bottles mixed to start the race with. That way I could start taking nutrition on the course and except for switching to orange (which I find provides less gastric comfort), there would be no change. I was drinking about one bottle every 40 minutes and eating Cliff Bloks- one bag per half hour. Each hour, I took some endurolytes and race caps. At two hours, I ate as many Nacho Cheese Combos as I could get down- the oddity of eating a dry food (out of a baggy) on a wet day was not lost on me.
Or my mouth.
I read a lot of people use advil or other pain killers when they race (and train). That's not my style.
So I headed back out on the second loop. I'd cut through a lot of the slower cyclists who share my lack of swimming skills. The second loops is always different because of this. There's more competition and unfortunately, more drafting as well. I've always felt that LP is not a drafter's course, but well, any course offers drafting opportunities.
I did not attack the big long hill that starts just after the run out and back.
I did attack on the downhill. I had one guy in front of me that I was not going to pass, so I settled in 5 bike lengths behind him, waiting until that first section 'flattens' out and then attacked and passed him.
The second long section of downhills was just like the first. I was going by people, fighting to see through the rain and moving right on those few cases where I got passed (three more riders passed me). I went by the sign that clocks your speed at the end of the downhills and remembered Coach Troy talking about people getting pulled over for speeding. Not today.
I took the turn with more authority but then my groin started to hurt. I continued to crank out the cadence and I finally decided that the pain was from needing to urinate. This time I didn't wait until Upper Jay. It was in this section that I started to notice that I was no longer attacking (and in a few cases being counter-attacked) by single cyclists. I was attacking groups of 3-4 riders.
I hate this. You are working alone, you pass them, they work together to pass you back.
It is what it is. I was peeing without stopping, and this is huge for me and proves the need to practice this on your long rider. Is it gross that I'm blogging about urinating ? Sure. Is urinating at 15-20 mph better than hopping off an urinating at 0 MPH. You bet !
I rode the hill up to Jay nice and steady, turned onto 86 to Wilmington and went small gear. Dave Greenfield talked me out of repeating 2006's race where I rode a 23-11 gearset. I was on 25-12 and was riding well. However, I got passed by one rider, which because I have issues with being passed, especially on hills, upset me a little. Sure, there are tons of riders that can roast me, but that doesn't mean I like being passed. However, about 3/4 of the way up the hill, I passed him back. This would be a repeating theme. The guy is younger, maybe 30-34. His name has faded from my memory already and I have no doubt in a few years that he'll be kicking my ass all the way up the hill. But at the time my thought- and my advice to him is this- you have to climb all the way up the hill.
Maybe in my old age I'm just a smarter climber.
the packs were starting to form, but I just kept to my own pace. I was able to get to the out on the out and back, take a few riders before the big downhill again and felt like I was doing well. Then a pack went by. I told myself to let it go and stood up and peed and ate.
I jockeyed with this group to the turn in the out and back, dropping when passed, then picking them off in threes and fours when the hills separated them. I kind of lost my temper at the turn-around and bombed down the hill and that was a little dangerous. I think, with 4 IMLPs under my belt, just based on number of ambulances seen, that the section from the turn-around to the big uphill on the out-and-back is the most dangerous on the course. There is no side to the road and you have bikes filling both lanes. I made one pass just inside the yellow line where my handlebar came within 4 inches of a handlbar going in the other direction. I could smell the other rider.
That was the kind of ride I was having. I didn't panic, I just kept going.
The group passed me again when I was peeing, all in a row, and this time, I lost my temper. We were in a flat area. I finished peeing, then accelerated and passed all of them at about 30mph. But it hurt, and I cursed myself after I did it because it was a stupid waste of effort.
At the feed station I asked if the volunteer that had gotten hit was all right, and was told yes. That was good, if true.
I approached the last stage of the ride the same way. attacked the little downhill- thought about A & W strip clams fondly, then climbed. For the first time, I heard the motorcycle of the official. Like all riders who hope they are honest and rule-abiding, that noise makes you nervous. It makes me less nervous on the hills because I will be passing people, not because I'm a great rider, but because I'm 5'4" and 135 pounds. Hills vs. me is a good match-up.
More on that later.
As I crowned the worst hill on the course, the one just before the high falls gorge, I saw fog setting in. Fog. I've ridden through this pass in fog before and let me tell you, that's a ride that sucks.
The fog was not as bad as I'd feared, but the wind was up and the pass was- hard. I rode the pass area conservatively.
Out of the pass, the motorcycle came back. I was ahead of the scrum of riders that were working together, but the front three picked me off. I dropped back. I had to tap the breaks to get four lengths back. This frustrates me. Pass me or don't but get it done. Tapping my breaks got my passed by three more, and then three more. They clumped together. I sat up. The motorcycle was between us. I put my right hand up as the referee looked back at me, imploring him to do something. This, above all things, frustrates me. When the rider who drops pleads with the official to enforce the rules, when there is a clump in front of you, make the call.
Didn't happen. I would go by the penalty tent and it was empty.
It is what it is.
By Big Cherry, I'd passed all but one of them.
The bears were again not that hard. I switched to the small gears halfway up Big Bear, kept passing people until the turn onto Mirror Lake Drive, and then shut it down a little. I rode easy into town, but then picked it up at the turn by the lake because what else can you do when the crowd is cheering.
I asked if anyone knew who had gotten stage win but no one answered. I took the turn wide into the barriers by the Olympic Center- how often do you get to ride like you're under the flame rouge in the Tour. And then I was off my bike and limping towards a porta-potty...