Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
The other day, I picked up the newspaper and tried the crossword puzzle. The only clue I could figure out was '47 Across: Stimpy's friend'. It's good to give the brain a break.
This morning, after waking up (without the aid of an alarm clock!) to watch the night turn to day, I walked down to the Kona market with my mom and dad and bought some mystery fruit. It's relaxing to jellyfish around without a schedule or agenda.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Oops, I did it Again
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
He Did it One Handed
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tinkerbell and the Volcano
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Getting by With a Little Help From my Friends
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.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
T minus One
It's nice to come out a day or two early. We took our time coming out to Jaco, stopping at the former unofficial David Hasslehoff restaurant (note: there is no longer a signed portrait of David Hasslehof at the restaurant. It must have changed hands and the old owner must have deemed the portrait to be too valuable to include in the sale). There was a quote on the menu that said something like "In the silence your mind acheives stillness". I thought it accurately described one of the beautiful experiences that you get in this race.
We carried on toward Jaco and checked out crocodile infested river. This time there were about 20 croc's right in the location in which the guys were walking last year. That seemed to keep the urges to explore under control. We drove through some torrential downpours and flooding on the road. We laugh about this now, but we know this means that it's going to be tough going in the jungle.
We've spent the last couple of days reflecting on last year's experience - the humour and the horrors. Like Jack Funk eating seven tuna sandwiches back to back at one aid station and then having to take a nap (we sure miss him this year). Or me forgetting to unlock my front shock on the volcano descent (I'm actually not sure how much I can laugh about this yet).
When we first arrived, Erik and I were excited to see that our room was right next to the registration tent. That meant no walking up and down tile stairs in bike shoes and no need to walk too far for all of the registration matters. We have since discovered the flip side of this perk. Erik has renamed the room "Club 133" for the hours upon hours of pounding techno that have been blaring from the speakers over the last 24 hours. No napping!
Trish and Craig came down with some sort of illness yesterday. Consensus seems to be that it was food related. Things are looking up today - hopefully they'll be ready to go tomorrow.
I had breakfast this morning in the same room as Roberto Heras and it finally dawned on me that I'm in the same race as Roberto Heras. How cool (and terrifying) is that! The field is smaller this year - maybe 400? Fewer women too - 23, instead of the 45 or so that showed up last year. We don't have a way to confirm this, but we think that there may be more people from Calgary in this race than from any other single city across the globe. Approaching a dozen, I think. Not bad. The Deadgoat's are very likely the best represented team from outside of Costa Rica. Another something of which to be proud.
After having two beautiful days here and fantasizing about the possibility of things drying out, we are now experiencing a heavy downpour that has continued for over an hour. Tomorrow is going to be a challenge. I lucked out last year with the dry weather on the west coast. This year, stage one is 10% longer and 100% wetter. It's gonna be a tough one.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Four Days in November
Saturday, November 1, 2008
In my three decades in Calgary, I have not experienced a halloween evening more amenable to trick or treating. Nor have I had the pleasure of handing out candy in a neighborhood in which there is a constant stream of trick or treaters. My sisters neighborhood was teeming with children and the costumes were incredible. When it's not minus twenty degrees outside, there are a lot more costume ideas from which to choose. Erik held the fort at our house and we actually got a trick or treater, but there were no candy bars to be found in our house. I bet we were the only house in Calgary giving out Sharkies (slightly cooler than a clif bar in the eyes of a child).
When the trick or treating traffic died down and Rory was ready for bed, I headed to Nose Hill Park to meet up for Mical's halloween ride. Seventeen grown people, most of whom were in costume, riding through the paths at Nose Hill Park in the dark. Christmas came early to Calgary as our string of headlights and blinkers wrapped around the park that overlooks the city. I'm not sure at what age one stops partaking in activities like riding your bike on a trail in the dark, but I'm lucky enough to have friend's that have not figured out that they are past the age at which most people make that transition.
Between rediscovering the joys of both sides of trick or treating and the joys of riding even though it is dark and even though it is October, this was most definitely the best halloween ever.