Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Hilly Billy Roubaix: Epicly Epicishness

Podium.  All Photos by Fred Jordan

The Hilly Billy Roubaix.  74.52 miles.  7500ft of climbing.  At least 40% of the miles were done on class IV roads (or worse) and ATV trails.  80% of those of which are covered with large, gnarly gravel.  The top 3 guys were all on Mountain bikes.  I was on a  Cyclocross bike.  That should sum it up, shouldn't it?

But it doesn't.  The sore back, triceps, every inch of my legs, stomach ache, head ache, blisters, burnt hands, sun burn, dehydration, blood shot eyes, bloody nose, scraped arms, bent rear wheel, broken chain, bent derailleur, broken saddle bag, broken bottle cage and creaking bottom bracket get closer to summing it up.

My goal was under 6 hours, as this was my first time.  I finished in 5:45.  In those 5:45 I learned a lot, A LOT, about "ultracross".

I learned I need to eat more; I learned I need better waterbottle cages; I learned I can't live with 32cc tires (next year 40cc Kenda Happy Mediums); I learned I can bend a wheel, without ever crashing; I learned sunscreen really really hurts your eyes; I learned that I can survive for 7 hours on Honey Stinger gels alone; I learned that racers, in the midst of racing, will stop and help you without even knowing you; I learned that volunteers can make the race; I learned that ginger ale can be the best tasting substance on the face of the earth; I learned that if you're a good mechanic, you can race ultracross on a bike with only 1 hour of use; I learned higher swiftwicks were a good choice; I learned 40mph, off road, is possible in drop bars; I learned salt IS essential; and I learned that even if a lot goes wrong, it's still worth it to keep on pushing.

The race was...well it wasn't great.  But it was fun...well it was fun for the first 50 miles anyways.  I swore I'd never do it again all night after the race.  And by Sunday I was starting to think "if I just hadn't flatted" and "if I just hadn't had to run the last 1/2 mile".  Oh yeah, I had to run the last 1/2 mile, crossing the finish line carrying my bike.  Chain jammed between cassette and wheel and it was game over!  Lost 7 minutes there...

I just had to get my run in!
By Monday it was "I think I could do well at that if I just did X, Y and Z".

And yesterday, on a spin with my wife, I said the inevitable: "I think I'll do it again next year, maybe".

It was the hardest race I've ever done (well except a 50k skate ski marathon in Alaska where I broke my ski in half 5k into the race- and continued to race anyways- and I had a 100 degree temperature- that was pretty hard).

It was also one of the craziest things I've ever done.  In fact, not only is it the longest ride I've ever been on a cx bike, it's definitely in my top 10 farthest rides I've ever done in my life on any bike, I think it's in the top 5!

Jeeze...I need to ride more...such a year next year next year

If you want to know all the nitty gritty details of the race, you can go to my blog and read all about it.

But here's the highlights:
Lost bottle #1 at mile 7.
Felt great until mile 20. Passed many, many people.
Flatted at mile 20. Lost 5 minutes.
Lost bottle #2 at mile 23. (the worst thing that happened)
Passed a bunch of people after aid station 1.
Lost all the contents of my saddle bag at mile 27. Lost 1 minutes.
Passed a bunch more by mile 35.
Started cramping at mile 35 (see lost bottles). Lost many minutes.
Bonked at mile 38.
Started getting passed back.
Felt better again by mile 43 due to salt tabs and food. Passed people back.
Felt awful from mile 52 through mile 60.  Lost many, many minutes.
Cramped so bad at mile 53 almost fell over.
Felt even worse after final aid station.  Lost...(well you get the picture)
Mentally rebounded at the steep climb towards the end (68 miles???)
Passed more people.  Gained time!
Chain jammed between wheel and cassette at mile 74 (of 74.5)
Got passed by all the people I had passed between aid station 2 and finish as I ran carrying my bike to the finish
Finished, chucking my bike across the finish, swearing like a sailor, covered in blood and mud.
Drank Coke and Elixir, fought stomach ache, head ache, and cramps.  Then ate pizza.  Tried to take in all that had happened.
Went home, crippled, in 102nd overall, 48th in category (40 and under)

Thanks to my team, our sponors, the volunteers, and my wonderful wife for a "great" "experience" "racing".  I can not wait for next year.