Monday, September 29, 2008

Six Cramp

2008 Six Gap Century: I felt pretty good early on. The Black Mountain rollers and the Neels climb went fine. I caught up with some Macon riders somewhere near the Apple store. I stayed within sight of them up Jacks even though they pulled away a little bit. I started to feel an unusual twinge in my hamstrings at the bottom of the climb, but it went away pretty quickly so I forgot about it.

I was out of water already at the top of Jack's (unusual for me), so I stopped quickly to fill up both bottles. I jumped in a fast little group and caught the Macon group on the long, gradual descent. As we turned the corner and started climbing Unicoi, I got sudden painful cramps in both hamstrings. I’ve never had cramps, so I didn’t know how to handle the situation. I mentioned it to Drew and he just said "wine" (I had done a bike tour of wineries on Saturday).

I stayed on the bike, standing and sitting until the pain eased a little. The Macon guys pulled away up the climb. Once I worked out the cramps and got back into my rhythm I felt fine. I passed a few folks on the climb and felt good by the time I reached the top. I caught Drew at the bottom of the Unicoi descent and we rode in a group of 6 or 8 to the Hogpen turn. As I approached the right turn to Hogpen my hammies locked up completely. It was both strange and intense. I've had cramps off the bike sitting on the sofa, but not on the bike. I couldn’t turn the pedals - now I know what people mean when they say "my legs locked up." If we’d been on a climb I guess I’d have fallen off the bike. I worked it out again and caught back to Drew’s group just as they crossed the timing wire to start Hogpen.

I had very little power climbing Hogpen - on a few sections I was climbing just fast enough to stay upright and was kicking myself for not putting on the 12-29 pansy cassette (I rode a 12-26). Just after the first ‘false downhill’ on Hogpen, my hamstrings locked up again. It hit me fast and I yelled so loud that I scared the crap out of two guys riding beside me who had entered a silent Zen state. This time I couldn’t coast, so I laid down in the grass on my back and massaged the knots out. The pain stopped after a minute or two. The rest of the climb hurt some, but the cramps did not come back. At the top of Hogpen I took an Advil, two race caps, drank about a gallon of water, refilled my bottles, and scarfed down a bunch of PB&Js and apples. I cramped some on the descent, but they gradually went away by the time I reached the base of the Wolfpen climb. I climbed it pretty slowly but faster then Hogpen. I felt better by the time I got to Woody, and then limped home solo on rollers that felt much bigger than they really were; finishing time 6:07.

Next year I’ll chase every glass of wine on Saturday with a glass of water. It had to be the dehydration. I ate and drank everything in sight for the next 12 hours and still only weighed 147 pounds the next morning (after weighing about 150 on Friday). I’d bet I weighed just barely over 140 at the top of Hogpen. I drank 8 bottles on my bike plus several cupfuls of Gatorade at the Hogpen stop and didn’t stop for a single nature break. Live and learn.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dahlonega Race Report

"KOM Championship"
This was an interesting idea, but it didn't work. We mass-started (combined Competitive 34- and 35+) in Suches and raced 7 miles to the top of Wolfpen. It was a 7-mile road race. Our race was slow until the bottom of the climb. I felt terrible that morning and was at the back as we approached the bottom. I popped immediately and finished 8th in Competitive 35+. I think Stoney attacked early and was caught on the climb, finishing about 12th in Elite. Christian said he had bad tactics - I think he finished 5th in Pro12. If this had been a time trial, it would have been a fun course and good stage, but as it was, Jay shouldn't repeat it next year.

Circuit Race
2-loop, 9-mile rolling circuit. I still wasn't feeling 100%, so I sat at the back of a very small Competitive 35+ field (maybe 20?). The race wasn't all that hard in the back and I felt better as it progressed. I was sitting about 10th as we made the last right turn to a 3 or 4% uphill finish. I passed a few guys and finished 8th in the sprint. Steve Murray was at the very back talking to the official about whether they were planning to open both lanes for the finish. When he realized we were there, he got a late start on the sprint but ended up winning it. I guess everyone else went way too early. Jeff took 5th in a good sprint. I think Christian took 4th or 5th also.

Road Race
I thought the new road race course was great and I felt much better on Sunday. The start was interesting: a 2- or 3-mile twisting descent right from the gun. At 3 miles in, I found myself in a group of 5 about a minute back from the front. There were other groups behind us. A little early work was required to bring it all back together. We caught and passed the under 34 peloton about 15 miles into the course after giving them a 10-minute head start. I guess they were taking it easy while we were chasing guys off the front.

At Skeena Gap, about half way through the 45-mile course, our group split into two packs of about 20 each. I was in the front group, but could tell that the rear group was gradually coming back, so I sat in and waited. Some of the front group was trying to organize a rotation to stay away from the rear group, but I figured even if they caught us they wouldn't be climbing competition on Wolfpen, so why work to stay away from them.

Soon after they rejoined us, the steeper short hills started. Over the next 15 miles the hills (particularly on Owltown road) whittled the front group down to about 13 or 14 riders as we began the climb onto Wolfpen. As we passed Vogel, I went into time trial mode for the climb. The group broke up and I passed a few guys, finishing somewhere around 10 or 12th, I'd guess. Probably good enough for a top 5 GC, but not what I had hoped for the Dahlonega weekend.

Stoney was in a break that was caught late and he finished about 10th or 12th, I think. At Moe's after the race, the guy behind me got a text saying that Parrett was in a break off the front of the P12. I don't know how he finished.