Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Hilly Billy In 65 Haikus

Once it gets hot out,
and the cicadas arrive,
I know what's coming.

It's not July 4th.
Nope; although there's tons of beer.
And some fireworks.

Hilly Billy Time.
The hardest race of the year.
Well, "race" I should say.

Like overeating.
Starts out fun, leaves me thinking,

This year I'd triumph.
Have you forgotten last year?
I won't, not ever.

Vacation this year,
right until the week before,
left me not riding.

Well, not much that is.
And lots of junk food and beer.
And no sleep either.

A friend from Texas,
just crazy enough to show,
decides to race too.

He has no idea.
But then, who would want to know?
It was for the best.

Race day came real quick.
I felt alright at the start,
might be a good day!

Tire choice? Easy.
Thirty five Kenda Small Block.
Fast and tough. Like me???

Doubt it, we will see.
I line up towards the front.
Shaky and nervous.

Dirt bike engines start,
I take a deep breath; it's time.
The road calls ahead...

Sluggish beginning,
felt very hard, legs still flat.
Focus! Stay upright!

Lot's of recklessness.
What is wrong with these people?
Way over their heads!

Screaming downhill now,
watch for the car-sized mud hole!
Dodge the giant rock!

My friend James is close.
He's fast, being here is good.
Still, seems pretty tough.

Through L.I.C.E,
back on the tarmac again,
time for pace-lining.

Feels fast, really fast.
I clearly went out too hard.
I will pay for this.

Keep your mind in it!
Doing well to the first stop.
Grab a banana.

Two cold fresh bottles.
Wasn't going to stop, glad I did.
Mental pick-me-up.

Passing people now.
Fast people, can't believe it.
Keep the legs churning...

It's starting to hurt.
So much climbing already!
SOOO far to go still.

Getting hot out now.
I'm still doing very well.
Eye of the tiger.

Then, flying down hill,
I thought "I can make some time!"
So I push it hard.

I grit my teeth tight,
hurtling through space and time.
I am crushing it.

And then, of course, BANG.
Almost inevitable,
the rear tire goes flat.

I quickly change it,
cursing under my breath. $#@&;
Here we go again.

Many riders pass.
I stay calm and start again.
Now, take a deep breath.

Little Shannon SUCKS.
Find my teammate Derek here.
But can't hold his wheel.

And then, more mishaps.
My saddle bag falls off, twice.
I stop to fix it.

Get back in the groove.
Put the hurt on some riders,
locked into race pace.

Yo-yo-ing with folks-
Mountain bikers, cross riders-
seemed 50/50.

Hit the pavement now,
left the big wheelers behind.
"Burn some matches" here.

Getting a rhythm,
catching people that passed me.

I need more to drink.
Yes: Happy to see aid two!
About half way there!

Massive, rough, climbs now.
Seems way steeper than last year.
I gasp, groan, and grunt.

Still, I am racing.
Last year I was surviving;
Barely at this point.

Now, what happened next?
I can't really remember.
It hurt though, big time.

Lots of rocky road.
Chasing the first place duo.
Then, pavement again.

I can't hang, get dropped.
Drift into that strange place now,
dark swims before me.

I struggle along.
Drowning in my subconscious.
I reach for some food...

Now I'm not racing.
Despair, hate everything.
Please just let it end.

I still have thirty.
Maybe I can quit.

That's it, I'll just quit.
No reason to continue.
Why do I do this!?!?!?

No, not now, not yet.
Look how well you are doing.

Struggle, so much pain.
Yet, close to aid station three!
When will these climbs end?!?!?!

AH, aid station three!
They make me recite my name.
I was out of it.

Focus, what's the plan?
Suppress the fatigue, the pain-
Get some calories.

Trying to do math-
What's my projected finish?
Under five hours?

Hit the road again.
I know what's coming, too well.
The smokey drain road.

Still some steep climbs yet,
and then the b$*&! smokey drain.
Poof, I'm over it.

I'm all alone now.
I hang my head, TT time.
I take a glance back...

It's a race of one.
Two riders in the distance.
I'm pulling away.

The last few climbs: BRUTAL.
The final bit seems the worst.
It goes on and on.

And this year, surprise!
Like a swift kick in the jewels,
a nasty grass climb.

And wait, who is that?
My friend Mike from Pro-mountain!
Can I go catch him?

The answer is no.
But, the finish is so close.
And I'm still alive.

I roll across, done.
Everything hurts, everything.
It's all over now.

I lay down, wasted.
Five hours sixteen minutes,
in thirty-fifth place.

A solid finish.
Considering, I'm happy.
Can't wait for next year.

And that's something new.
As last year I was cursing,
the race and myself.

Swore I wouldn't race,
"never again" I said then.
Time has changed that now.

So, now I'm moving.
Starting a new adventure,
in Massachusetts.

I'm happy, then sad.
I will miss West Virginia,
the Hilly Billy.

There's no place like it.
There's no people like those here.
Forever with me.

Until next time then.
Let the mountains carry me,
to my valley home.