There is just something about bike racing that tempts me, teases me, pulls me in. Much like a chocolate chip cookie, I understand what goes into making it, but how does flour, sugar, eggs, butter and chocolate end up being so alluring, so irresistible, so wonderful. The recipe for racing is that I love to ride bikes, I love to challenge myself and test my limits, I love the competition and comradery. Yet the gravity of doing more and more races seems to go beyond such simple things. I can’t seem to stay away from doing another race, even when am I broke, tired or under trained I still am compelled to sign up for another. Like a plate of cookies I just can’t say no.
That is what happened after this years CTR, I was worked, tired, sore, but I wanted more. I almost got sucked into the vortex of the Leadville 100, but it was just too much money and after the fact, I have to admit way too soon. After that reality check stepped on my dreams I needed another race to focus on and with 24 Hour Nationals leaving an unsatisfied taste in mouth I found my poison. The 24 Hours in the Sage, right here in Gunny, no travel, not too pricey, and I might even have a chance of doing well?
Well as the race got closer it was apparent to me that I was not fully recovered from the CTR. I was still deep down tired, my legs were stiff and feeling dead, tingles still pulsed through my fingers and my lower back clinched tight with any hard effort. I thought of not starting the race, it would have been the prudent, mature thing to do. But I was already needing the experience, the total occupation of mind and body, the wonderful awfulness of being completely crushed. I want to eat the whole plate of cookies….
Well the race did not disappoint. It was hard, there were some really fast guys, lots of friendly folks giving out tons of encouragement and a mix of weather. I went into the pain cave right away, I think the first lap was the only one that didn’t have me cringing in pain. My back locked up right away, my stomach stopped working and got super bloated, my right hand throbbed and tingled, my poor butt, well it wasn’t happy to say the least. All predictable, all preventable by simply volunteering and not racing!
But race I did, going out pretty hard trying to give it all I had to give. The first few laps were fast and fun, I kept the big boys of the day in sight and that felt good. Then the pain got harder and harder to ignore and I simply slowed down. At some points in the night I was crawling along, cringing, gritting my teeth wondering why I do this. But I didn’t stop and chill, I didn’t drop out, I wanted this enough to just deal and HTFU, buttercup!
I had incredible support that pushed me, fed me and encouraged me. I had on my back a Griggs Orthopedic jersey that made me dig deeper and try harder. I got through the pain, the bits of rain, crashing twice in one lap and just kept riding. I saw a gorgeous sunset glow through the mist of distant rain. I saw the moon rise within rows of clouds turning it into a mysterious ball of orange. This morning’s sunrise made the whole sky turn pink, while at the same time saving us all from the weirdness of riding all night. I talked to people I knew and never see, I met folks who made me smile, I gave and received love and cheers from so many fellow riders and their families. I got to ride my bike for almost 24 straight hours and although it hurt, most of the time I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else. When it was all said and done this morning just before noon, I managed to ride 18 laps, totaling 240+ miles getting me 3rd place. I also got to eat handfuls of wonderful homemade gluten free chocolate chip cookies, ahh so good and so damn satisfied!