Friday, January 8, 2010

Post-Snake Creek and More Winter Weather

It has taken me nearly a week to shake off the personal pain and frustration that went down at the first round of the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial. I know that many people were dissatisfied with their results and times posted, but I have been in a daze. I have not gone over the 4 hour mark in a really long time and I rolled in somewhere slightly under 4:15. You may wonder what the hell was I doing out there? Well a funny thing happened...Let's start with the fact the temps at the start were just a hair over 20 degrees with high winds and snow flurries. Usually I make the decision to under dress for this race despite the conditions since I know I will be warming up fast on the trail. As always, about 2 miles into the start, there is a decent sized creek that you have to cross through. This year it was a bit wider than normal and it was well below freezing outside. I rolled up to it and stopped to get a good look at it. Then backed up and tried to go at it with some speed and lift my feet up with hopes to make it through and not get my feet too wet. Needless to say, that is not how it worked out and I made it about half way in then ran out of speed and wound up walking to the other side. I instantly knew that was going to have an effect on the outcome of the day. As I rolled on, I just tried to put the fact that my feet were soaked out of my mind. The first half of the trail went pretty well. I never put in too hard of an effort, but my main focus was just to keep pedaling and catch the folks that were in front of me. I would roll up on someone, ask to pass and then sit back down and churn the pedals. I went through the first aid station and realized that my bottles were frozen solid along with my shoes and socks. Ice was forming in my pedals from where the water was seeping through my shoes. I eventually lost complete feeling in my feet and then my hands. I remember thinking to myself that I dressed down because I would get never happened.

I tried to stay focused and keep pedaling. That was all I could think about. Around mile 30 or so, I was hauling ass on one of the few downhill sections and rolled my front tire off the rim and launched myself over the bars and crashed hard. It appeared that my valve stem got damaged and the front tire leaked air for a while, but since I had been climbing, it was not very noticeable. Well it became pretty clear that something was wrong on the descents. So with frozen hands, I had to pull off a busted valve stem and proceed to install a new tube to get back on the move. I fumbled with this mechanical for what seemed like forever, but was nearly 10 to 15 minutes. During this time, a heard of guys that started behind me caught up and went on by. This was the nail in the coffin for me. I was cold, shivering and could not feel my extremities. So I pulled it together and just cruised my way back to the finish line. I was truly grateful to be finished that day. I know the Snake Creek course is always difficult, even when you are prepared, but this day was something else. I am glad to have this one behind me and will be taking the necessary steps to be ready for the next one. I can only hope it is warmer next month.