So the last time we checked in, your noble but somewhat battered and gastrointenstinally chastened correspondent had made it past OO, prudently avoided the panther sweat in paper cups, but also feeling a little nauseated from (1) the apparent bug in my gut, sort of turbo-charging the normal pre-race squirts and (2) the cheap gatorade, purchased at 4:00 AM at Marketplace, a store that is suspiciously cognate with Rainbow foods in the Twin Cities, same signage and color scheme and fucking lame organics department -- and answer me this: why is a state known popularly as "America's Dairyland" seemingly devoid of any good decent cheese, I mean doorstoppers of fake orange Colby and Cheddar? And like generic Land O' Lakes butter? And Kemp's milk? Seriously, that's effed up -- so but the Gatorade, I mixed it way too strong, thinking I would be compensating for a lack of any sort of powerbars or goos on my person, but instead feeling it get kinda gummy and backuppy in my stomach, so grabbing water just water at every stop whenever it's offered and convenient. And you know, Firetower Hill is always a bitch not because it's insanely long or even insanely steep, but it comes after roughly 25-30 miles of 18 MPH tempo riding, so the legs are pretty softened up, and maybe even getting crampy, and it's hard to keep spinning up that long somewhat baby-heady climb, with its three or four steep almost technical ramps, but most self-respecting MTBers who consider themselves technically sound riders consider it a point of pride to ride the thing no matter what, and so here is another place on the long route from Hayward to Cable where, if you're wanting to spectate at a place where racer emotions run high and hot, this is a good place to hear a blue streak of simple expletives, and occasionally riders yelling at each other impulsively, pissed to have some roadie doofus pick a bad line and spudlock and fall over and forced unclipping and a walk of shame. I was sure I heard the voice of Hollywood Henderson at the top of the climb, a traditional gathering spot for ne'er-do-wells, beer drinkers, well wishers, dogs. But no. I believe I later saw photographs of him in his HWood kit there at the start and later looking very much distressed at SkinnySki.com, and in any case, it was not him hooting and hollering at the top of Firetower hill, but a group of regular-looking yuppie locals who were offering sincere encouragement but alas, no beer or cigars or any other gaggy kind of thing like that. And from here, a pretty decent fast and non-technical descent. But I'd pretty much given up on plan B at this point -- which, if you'll recall, was to start pouring on the coals in the last third of the race, where I've traditionally picked up 20 or 30 places by virtue of all that mind-melting road mileage I banked in the Spring. So Plan C, which is really no plan at all but more of a primitive survival mode, is to sit in and keep a respectable steady pace, not blown up by any stretch of the imagination, but just not feeling all that great either, and not long after making this decision, I felt my beating heart go into a cycle of arrythmia, which is bit like getting lightly punched in the chest every so often, and not always accompanied by what you'd expect would be a serious sudden decline in general perception about well-being, and the actual performance of the "engine." Worst case of arrythmia I think I'vve ever experienced, sustained and repeating and just really a bummer. Did I want to die alone in the gravel on my back on Telemark Road? Sure, there are worse ways and places to die, but there are lot better ways and places to, y'know, shuffle off this mortal coil -- like for starters, say 20 or 30 years in the future, in my bed, surrounded by like grandchildren or great grandchildren or something. So: When do I drop out of this thing, and swallow my pride and just sag-wagon it back to the beer tent?
An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.