Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Colour of Muddy

It was a controlled start, with a police escort for most of the initial stretch of pavement. I even had Erik within eyesight after the first five kms of the race - that's a first for me. I settled in to my own rhythm and was going fast enough that I even caught Gerry a few kilometres from the first food station (I'll settle for me having a wonderful start, rather than accept that he might have had a slow one).

We arrived at the food station early enough to get the salty mini-potatoes and the mythical tuna sandwiches (I'd heard stories of these, but this was my first experience with them first hand. Life is different at the back of the pack). To my surprise, Timmy (formerly Timmy the Bear Naked/Cannondale singlespeeder, now the Sobe/Cannondale fully-geared 29er) was also at the feed station. I knew I couldn't have been having THAT good of a start - something wasn't adding up. Unfortunately, he was out with an injured hip and waiting for a ride back.

I'd really bent up my deraileur hanger just before the aid station and Gerry helped me get it back to what looked to be a 'ridable' point. After a few kilometres, I discovered that appearances can be deceiving, when my rear wheel ate my deraileur, rendering it completely useless. I was disappointed that my day was over, but I was really glad that it happened within reasonable walking distance of assistance - it could have been MUCH worse. I walked my bike back to the food station and realized I was also lucky because I had a friend with whom to hang out while I waited for a ride.

When I saw Timmy, he looked at my bike and said (very cheerfully)  'awe, Tori, your day isn't over. I can fix that'. Timmy, you saved my day, my race and my vacation. You are my La Ruta Angel. I thought of how kind you were for the next nine hours after I left you.

I decided that I needed to dial it up to make Timmy's effort worthwhile. I crushed most of the people around me in the lodo. For the uninitiated, 'lodo' is the heinous orangey-red, peanut butter-textured sub-tropical Costa Rican jungle mud. It sticks to your tires so bad that your wheels won't move, so you have to carry your bike, which is now fifty pounds heavier because of the mud. And don't bother trying to clean it off, unless you plan to carry your bike for the next 15kms.

I think that cyclocross season was good practice moving on crappy surfaces and hiking my bike up steep slopes. It felt like everyone else was standing still. You really see a range of personalities when the going gets tough - some people really let it get them down. Others are able to laugh it off. Everyone has to deal with it and gets covered from head to toe in it. 
I leapfrogged with Heart Akerson for a bit, which was kind of cool. He's steady on the climbs and a total animal on the descents. I think this is his tenth La Ruta. I felt comfortable with him around because he knows how to pace and knows the way.

My gloves were caked in mud and some kind of poo, so I found myself not eating as much as I should (heaven forbid I actually stop for a break). The result was that I gorged at the next feed stop. Two tuna sandwiches, a red bull, cake, papaya, and some salty potatoes. All in about 37 seconds (gotta make time!). I recommend that you do not try this at home.

The long climb up to Alto Grifo was more pleasant this year under the cover of cloud and with no blistering hot tar seeping from the freshly laid asphalt. This was overshadowed by the dizziness and sharp stomach pain I was experiencing as a consequence for my tuna and redbull binge. I paid for this nutritional blunder doubly as my inability to eat and hydrate caught up with me once the cramps subsided.

Though the first part of the course was different than last year, most of the rest was the same. I found it valuable to know roughly what to expect as it saved me the concern of being lost or not knowing about how much climbing was left. I was farther back in the group than I would have liked, but the nice thing about that was that the farm dogs were too tired to chase you for any more than about ten feet.

In the end, I finished after approximately 11 hours 51 minutes - about a minute longer than last year, but feeling less shattered. Erik had waited for me, along with most of the other deadgoats. Trish didn't start because she is still really sick (turns out her upswing yesterday was just temporary). Pat finished, but had to be hospitalized as a result of severe dehydration. Erik had a tough day. Sounds like everyone else suffered too - but not sure of all of the details. In this race, you can suffer and still have a 'good day'.

Apparently results are online already.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, it sounds like you were totally killing it. To ride the same time as last year despite a broken derailleur and wet conditions? Awesome, congrats.

November 13, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM MST  
Blogger Mical Dyck said...

Holy crow, sounds like quite the adventure. Great Job :) Good luck tomorrow.

November 13, 2008 at 3:03:00 PM MST  
Blogger jon said...

wicked tori!... everyday you get more "hardcore"... and downing all that food in a feedzone in less than 3/4 of a minute-- i'm proud of you!

November 14, 2008 at 10:52:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tori,
When I saw you walk back to me I was puzzled a bit. My mind was wondering and my hip was uber stiff and throbby. Fixxing your bike did two things for me.
1. Let me help a friend in need:)
2. Take my mind off the pain .
Glad I could help you keep the good times rolling.

November 17, 2008 at 5:01:00 PM MST  

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