Tuesday, August 18, 2009

nocturnal e-mistakes

Four of the last 5 weekends I've strapped a light onto my handlebars and spent a good portion of the time when I should be sleeping out on a bike. It's been about preparing for the Vapor Trail 125. Only one of those nights was pretty much completely fun.

I've been getting lots of good advice about this strategy--that it's well-intentioned yet dumb. Nothing that's un-fun is good for preparing for an event.

This past Saturday I decided to line up at the 24 Hours in the Sage, my third year at that kick-butt event at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison.

I was determined to take the good advice seriously; I kept a smile on my face and a happy thought in my heart. And it worked. I was having fun and I was having a good race. The late afternoon was tough just because of a gnarly wind blowing, but I stayed positive. I established a more or less sane 24 hour pace, and I plugged away. At midnight I had completed 7 laps.

My eighth lap was looking good. I had put down some food during a pit stop at midnight and it was agreeing with me. My pace was settled and I was just getting down to the business of keeping up the pace all night.

The finale of the 24 Sage course is The Gap. It's a series of slanted granite slabs punctuated by granite curbs. After many laps on this course, I felt completely comfortable dropping through it. I had no trepidation at all. But on that 8th lap, it got me. As I entered it, I saw two other racers. One was working on his bike--he'd apparently broken something on the way through. The other was just finishing walking the toughest part. The good line was more or less open, but for some (stupid) reason I decided to experiment with a line to the left that looked OK. My front wheel dropped into a deep V and I landed on my head. I picked myself up, the front wheel of my Voodoo spun all the way backwards. My head had a mild pain sensation from the shock of impact. Of course I was thinking about closed head injury. It wouldn't be a bad one because I wasn't going fast enough, but a concussion is still a concussion. And I had the achey feeling that you get when you're body gets slammed around.

I rode back to the tPOD carefully, committed to taking some time to be sure that I didn't start getting goofy.

Long story made short: after sitting around for half an hour I lost interest in going back out. I laid down for a while trying to sleep, then went to the shower at about 4:00 AM. When I got back I put on street clothes, carried my transponder to the start/finish tent and volunteered to help with timing.

There I had the distinct pleasure to meet and witness the energy of Dave Taylor, who operates the KOA in Gunnison where the event is headquartered.

I've stayed at a few KOA's over the years, and a few nice ones. Dave's outfit is top notch. And he is a hoot. At 5 AM he was the life of the party. He could just support this event as a businessman and sponsor, but he goes way beyond that. He dances, he howls, he gives incoming solo racers man-hugs at 5 AM. I mentioned that I was hungry and he rushed off and came back with food. He's just one of those people who exudes positive energy.

Then of course there is Mitch, the man behind the 24 Hours in the Sage. God I wish I had a picture of him wearing the mullet wig, but alas, I had no camera.

It's a great event. It was a positive experience, which is what I needed to put in the bank. I regret my bad judgement, which got me into a crash that could have been much, much worse. But it was fine.

I'm not going to ride at night again until September 12-13. I'm going to continue to train, but I'm keeping it in perspective. I'll finish the Vapor Trail 125 or I won't. Life will go on either way.

The VT125 is going to be a killer event this year, and I get to be a big part of it. But it's not make or break. I have a wonderful girlfriend, lots of good friends, I'm fit and healthy--things are good. Why create a big drama around a physical accomplishment that may be beyond me even if the stars align? Fine line between too much motivation (worry) and not enough (apathy). But I'm going to try to walk it.

And I'm going to get a little more sleep between now and then.


Ed said...

Sleep is good!

With enough rest things get a lot easier, you'll be fine.

See you soon.


Chad said...

Finishing is always the goal, although lining up is really what it is all about.

I will be coming too far to not give it my all.

I really appreciated all your work/Abs Bikes for putting this together. Looking forward to riding!