|Thanks for the little red flags!
Entering The Pain Cave:
I stayed at Checkpoint #2 quite a while. I ate a few more chips, had a bottle or two of water, ate a pickle, (which was awesome, by the way), and doused my head in some ice cold water. It was good, but the time was coming where I felt I needed to move on. The MW crew was still relaxing while I received assistance filling my water bottles up, and I dropped into my saddle and wobbled off to finish up the set of cues we were given that morning.
I had not gone far when I reached the point that according to my odometer, I should be turning. I saw a very sharp right hander. It was nearly hidden, but I stopped up and consulted the cues. No mention of an unmarked corner on the cue sheets, but I did not see a sign on the corner proper. (Later on, I found out there was a sign, but it was to the left, and nearly obscured by trees.) I recalled that Chad had said there would be some corners marked and I did see several sticks with red ribbons fluttering in the breeze. Hmm......maybe this is a right hander. It all matched up with the cue sheet, and I thought I saw the tell-tale sign of tire tracks. I took the right hander then....
|More beautiful roads!
In my thoughts, I was prepared to see the MW crew overtake me at any time. I looked back once as I rounded a gentle left hander to see if I could see them approaching- but there was no one there. Still- I imagined a phantom chase group of two men and a women cruising at a steady pace right behind me, and I was motivated to push onward.
I had this occur once at Gravel Worlds. Going down a hill at 30mph, I fell asleep and woke up again in a start. It was scary, and I ended up doing that several times before pulling out of that event. At that time, I surmised I had just needed to stop and rest, and after eating, I felt far better. Maybe this time that would work too. I didn't know for sure, but I was not about to keep riding if I was dropping my head and going to sleep.
So I stopped. I ate a bit. I drank a bit. Then I felt far better. I started riding again, and as soon as I got to pushing up any kind of a hill I would start hurting in the legs really badly and losing my ability to stay awake again. I would stop momentarily, repeat the eat, drink, rest routine. I would feel better, take off, and bam! Once again, I would be in the hurt locker.
|Extended rest period....
At first I figured I would see pursuers coming up the road to overtake me anytime. I did see one lone rider, but for the most part, I was completely alone. There were no houses, farms, traffic, or signs of civilization except the road. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the event. In a world that seems as if one can not exist without being "connected" at all times, I was sitting there contented, cell phone off, and completely disconnected from everything. This was good. Very good. I highly recommend that you try it.....
While my event wasn't going down as maybe I would have liked, I felt this little bit of time was a blessing for me. I was in no hurry at all to get up and leave. However; the pull of the open road and discovery were still calling, so I got up and answered it the best that I could.
I slogged through a very open, grassy area that reminded me a lot of the Kansas Flint Hills region. Big, open sky and it went on forever. Hills, and now a stiff wind, were the main features here. I was crawling, but I was still going.....
I made a left hand turn and looked at a long, steady climb that had to be a mile long or more. It kicked up steeper about half way up, and here I stopped to rest. My legs were screaming in pain and I just needed to gather myself back up for a push over the top. I looked behind me and here came the MW crew. Later than I thought, but they were there, strung out, and MW was cranking his single gear at the back of the trio in his steady-eddy cadence.
It was a glorious scene: MW out of the saddle, a long ribbon of road stretched out behind him, and nothing but open spaces with blue sky dotted with puffy clouds to crown it all. I had to get that image! I took a shot, then waited for MW to pass me by so I could give him a salute, then I slowly ground out the climb. I wouldn't see that trio again out on the course.
I started to look around more now, knowing that my cues were running out, and probably my time out here on the bike as well. Again, I had no idea what time it was, but I knew that the cut-off to get the next cue sheet was at 4:00pm. I figured I would likely come in too late, but that was okay with my by this point.
|Life-giving canal water for the local ag scene.
Then I saw a down hill, and the road dumped out to a turn along side a canal used for irrigation for the local farmer's crops. I stopped at the corner to investigate a feeling of small rocks in my shoes. I laboriously removed one shoe as a man in a truck passed by. The truck went about a half mile down, turned araound, came back, and swung over to stop right by me. Well, you just never know how things are going to go when this happens. I wasn't worried. In fact, I pretty much hurt so bad I didn't care what happened at this point.
In the end, I had absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Just a helpful offer to assist if I needed anything. I chatted with the young farmer for a minute or two and he realized why he had seen so many cyclists when I told him about the race. He bid me farewell, and I looked after my shoes before slowly climbing back aboard the Fargo.
|The final miles....
I saw another truck approaching me in the distance. It looked familiar and sure enough, it was the race event director, Chad. He pulled over and said he had heard I was out there hurting pretty badly. I confirmed that was the case. Chad offered a ride, but I knew that I was within ten miles of coming in, so I politely declined his offer. Chad smiled and nodded in acknowledgement of my stubbornness, and confirmed that he would likely do the same as I. We parted ways and not far up the canal road I made the left hander into a dead flat section directly into the teeth of the wind. It was a death march. I was really straining to keep myself on the bike and not to get off and walk, because the pain was really bad.
|MG finishing 3rd
An irrigation "pivot", as those long, wheeled pipelines of life giving water are called by the locals, was near the road as I passed. The stiff wind was blowing a fine stream of ice cold water across the road and it hit me with a good amount of water. It was shockingly good feeling for about a quarter mile, then the effects wore off quickly and it was back to pain again.
I rolled into the start/finish area to sparse applause. I was astounded to find out I actually beat the cut off by well over a half an hour. For my pride and satisfaction, I grabbed the next set of cues, but I had no intentions of suffering any longer than I already had. It hurt just to walk at this point, and I was just dogged down. I knew the first five to ten miles of the next cue sheet was right back into that wind, uphill, and was not giving any quarter. I had 96 miles in, and I was satisfied with my accomplishment over my pain and agony up to that point. I sat down with a cold beer and watched the finishers come in.
Next: My final post on Odin's Revenge..........