Thursday, February 25, 2010

Icebike 2010

From February 7, 2010

I’ll save you the suspense. I came in last. But they posted the results sometime late yesterday and two guys in my category DNF’d so you can say I at least beat them. I’m not sure what possessed me to want to do this race. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been dying to ride my bike outside for several months and nothing was going to stop me. But I couldn’t just go out on my front street and ride. I needed RATIONALE to do it. A race is rationale. People such as myself who lack mountain bike handling skills and balance all wisely stayed home this morning and did more sane activities, like shoveling their overflowing driveways. (Speaking of which, mine is not done yet). It was -17. There was wind chill (-30). And there was lots of fresh powdery snow. Lots.

And then there was my always friendly taunting of Terri. I taunted her to the top of Mount Lemmon last week, surely I could taunt her into a snowy bike ride. I was on the fence about actually showing up to this race right until mid afternoon on Saturday when she said that regardless of having to be at choir practice at 1:00, that she’d be there. So in the process of unpacking yet more boxes in my basement came a period of reorganization when I dug my mountain bike out from behind my pile of future garage sale wares, checked the tires, not as flat as I expected, (and later that night, Stig told me not to pump them up. I would have more traction with them a little on the flatter side), and I knew at that point there was no turning back.

It was a rush in the morning because the Woodcock website said they would be taking sign-ins and registrations till 1100. I had to get my kids to my parents' so I drove by the forks, signed in with what cash I had in my wallet (the last dollar of the $25 fee included pennies and nickels and dimes), then dropped the kids off at Mom and Dad’s and then back to the forks. After I unloaded my bike I did a trial ride through the streets of the Forks to Johnston’s Terminal. I was slipping and sliding all over the place with no grip. This was NOT going to be good.

11:30: NO Terri. At about 20 minutes before the noon start time I start to head over to the race start. i only see one other girl and she is wearing a Team Manitoba cycling jacket. Great. I am wearing only my Tribalistic jacket and a base layer and my running room tights with cycling shorts underneath. I had forgotten my sunglasses but when I saw how the snow was blowing, I borrowed a fashion, rather than sporty, pair from my mother. It’ll do. I had made a last minute decision given the slipping and sliding conditions, NOT to clip in. Unfortunately, I also had not made the best decision in foot ware that morning so I was wearing my leather “fashion” boots. At least they are flats, but there is not much tread on the bottom to grip them to the bottom of my metal SPD pedals which are not much bigger than my watch. So I’m not looking like a pro. I don’t ride like one either.

11:55: STILL NO Terri. I’m already planning her early demise. Man I already cannot feel my fingers and toes.

11:59: Someone bumps the front wheel of my bike with their tire. Ah Terri…… OK. Here we go. We joke about dropping down to the one lap race. They do row call and my call of presence is less than enthusiastic. Terri laughs at me. They send off the Abominable 3 lap racers.

12:05: Race start. Three pedal strokes in and I already am cursing. My feet are slipping off my pedals at high cadences so I resort to grinding in a higher gear. I am missing my clips already because the race route has been groomed and this is much easier riding than the streets. I am lacking my power pull up on my pedals being unclipped. I can’t feel my fingers so shifting gears is hard. There is one gear that every time I set into it, my bike decides to have a mind of its own and shifts spontaneously. One kilometer in and I can no longer see Terri up ahead. My computer is functioning even in this cold. I’m doing about 12 km per hour.

Most of the race course is straight and well groomed. There is a couple of sharp turns, there is a section of grass on the slant of the river bank, there are stairs to go down and there is another big downhill that is like plowing through sand. I walk these. I don’t have a lot of grip in these boots for this but I made my choice to race like this. Most of the trail I ride. I can’t feel my hands and I am pretty convinced I am only going to be able to manage one lap. I am too cold. Then after running my bike up this big grassy section I suddenly realize that shifting has become easier. I can feel my fingers again. And I am feeling them more and more with each pedal stroke.

I am way behind and all the kids from the one lap race have passed me by now. Thankfully none of the 3 lappers have caught me yet. I hit a patch of pavement under the Provenchier Bridge and I look back at my back tire. It looks completely flat. I have a pump. The next thing I know I am back at the start of the lap. I get off and someone helps me pump my back tire. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought but I probably needed a break and I needed to clear my nose. My fingers are warm now. I no longer have an excuse to quit, I have to keep riding.

The second lap is better but my quads are burning. Probably half of the 3 lap field has passed me by the end of the 2nd lap. Terri is waiting for me at the end. (She was about 10 minutes ahead of me). It was one of those races where I cursed being there the whole time and then when it was over I was ready to go again. Maybe next year I should start winter commuting. Hmmmm? Now that I have a safer and shorter ride to work, that should be manageable.

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