Monday, June 30, 2008

Cascade Creampuff 2008

It was a comfortable temperature at the 5:00am race check-in, thanks to a thunderstorm that rolled through the night before (I was glad that I'd splurged on the hotel room, rather than camping, which appeared to be the chosen option for many riders). Apparently one of the race organizers took Maz aside and asked her if she knew what she was getting in to, doing the race on a single speed. 

The route was effectively two laps of a figure eight, with four key climbs, each of which was somewhere close to 3,000 feet of net elevation gain. The surface was split fairly evenly between road and single track, with the climbs being predominantly gravel road. The single track descents extended forever (like, 2 hours for me on the back loop) and snaked through a diverse forest areas. The trails were, for the most part, quite smooth and soft - not much by way of body rattling rooty or rocky sections. The major technical challenge (for me) was the tight switchbacks. The three flats I had didn't help, but I made it through thanks to the kind support of other riders.

Starting early meant that we beat the heat on the first climb. The treed descents also served as relief from the scorching sun. Still, I found myself soaked for virtually the entire day as a result of the heat and physical exertion. Food support was excellent, as were the volunteers. Aid station 2, which was at the top of all four climbs (the middle of the figure 8) was an oasis. Some spectators had made a snowman out of the snow that had survived the intense early-summer heat and had dressed it like a hula girl.  

When I rolled down to the bottom of the third descent at around 5:45pm (12.5 hours in), I was asked if I wanted to continue. They told me that I had an 1hr30 to get to the top of the hill. That was the cutoff and anyone arriving after that would be disqualified and not be allowed to finish. I chugged a redbull, shrugged my shoulders and said I would try. I knew it was highly improbably - it was the same hill that had taken me 1hr45 at the start of the day and the first 5km of it was now single track instead of paved road. But, I had nothing better to do and lot of time already invested. 

Hope allows you to believe crazy things sometimes. 

It was already getting dark in the forest. In a couple of hours it would be hard for me to see and would make a descent on the single track unsafe. My assumption was that they would pull me out of the race when I reached the top of the hill. For me, that was a better end than making a decision to quit. A stupid technicality really. Whether I get disqualified or quit, it is still a DNF. 

I rode for a short while with a guy named Erik. He seemed to be in the same zone as me - not ready to give up, but aware that it might not be our call. He shared some of his positive energy with me and then pulled ahead. After a few kilometres, he was out of sight. After that, I passed several shattered cyclists on the side of the road with their heads in their hands. I cursed myself for having too much pride to stop. I was tired, but in reasonable shape considering how long I'd been riding. Why would I push myself to feel like one of those people? Over the two hours that I took to reach the top, I had come to peace with the fact that I wasn't going to finish. 

When I reached the checkpoint, Erik was there. His facial expression confirmed that we were not going to be allowed to continue. As I filled my camelback with water and listened to the race organizer behind me, it became evident that I had read the situation incorrectly. To my amazement, they let us go afterall. We descended together for safety. It was good to have company and even though it wasn't my Erik, it was cool that his name was Erik. 

Erik and I crossed the finish line together somewhere past 15hrs30. Geoff and Dave were there waiting. So thoughtful. If I ever finish a race before someone else I know, I will definitely make a point of waiting for them.

I don't know much about how everyone else did as results are not yet up. I know that Jeff got 4th overall. Maz, Steve and Dave finished. Geoff finished too, despite a crash that was caused by a hazardous tool bag (sorry!). Gerry had the good sense to know when to pull out. I think Carrie did not finish due to time. 


Blogger geoff said...

pure, sweet hell

i think i'm going back

July 3, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM MDT  
Blogger tori said...

Duder, you've got to try la ruta!

July 3, 2008 at 2:24:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a machine tori, congrats on pushing through.

After suffering through a 15:30 day on a mountain bike you have permission to hit me if I ever complain about a measly Ironman...

July 7, 2008 at 3:56:00 PM MDT  

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