Monday, July 14, 2008

2 Xterras and a Tri

I've never considered myself a triathlete. Never participated in one, nor have I ever had the desire to participate in one. In spite of it all, my last three rides have been a slight variation on the theme of triathlons.

They weren't the conventional swim, bike, run. They started with the bike, then came the unexpected swim, followed by a running sprint in the middle or at the finish. What races were you in, you may be wondering? Yea, I thought the same thing. No, I didn't sign up for any of them. Mother Nature keeps throwin' them at us so cleverly.

Last Tuesday night's Big Creek ride turned into an Xterra Fiesta. Standing in the parking lot with Thunder booming in the distant, we refused to accept the reality of the situation. Riding in a light drizzle that barely touched the ground, we managed to get in some good runs in the freeride area. The midnight darkness should have been our clue that things were not going to change for the better. As Raja and Cyclesmith sped off in the singletrack, my legs were unable to keep chase. Riding tonight was a very bad call on my part. I really was in need of some serious rest, and was not pleased with myself for making this decision.

Kaboom! Thunder rumbled through the air and lightning flashes threatened my existence. That'll get some fire in your legs. With new found energy, I hammered through the downpour in hopes of not meeting my demise all alone on the trails of Big Creek. The swim leg of my triathlon began. Swimming in a muddy rooty lake. Fun. Then the mad dash to the car to complete the run portion of my race. It was coming down in buckets. I don't like triathlons.

After that fiasco, I put the bikes up until the weekend. Full on rest. Gotta get ready for triathlon #2. Raccoon Mtn with the RAMBO Sorba crew. Brad had put out the call for a ride on Saturday, and looked like all of Atlanta was going. Raja informed me of his devilish plan. We would get up Saturday morning at, guess the time, yep, 0:darkhundred, and head up to Raccoon hours before everyone else. He wanted to get in a lap before the official ride began. The thing is, a lap is 17 miles. That meant we had to start by 8:00. O-K. Whatever, Sherpaman. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you ride, I will follow. Wherever you drive, I will sleep along the way.

The threat of rain did not cross my mind when we arrived early Saturday morning. Driving across the dam was beautiful. Looking down, the fog was still sitting in the valley creating a magical sight. The camera begged to be used, but I refused. I was taking the wkd off from my usual photoninja chores. The photo was stored in my mind.

We rolled from the parking lot at 8:10 to the trail. I decided to start using my heart rate monitor again, since I am having a difficult time keeping my efforts out of the red zone. Raja had the envious task of clearing out the spider webs, while I trailed behind. Honestly, I felt like death on a stick. My legs were flat, and my heart rate wouldn't climb above 130. I had to work hard on my attitude, trying to find a point of focus to keep me from dwelling on how yucky I felt. My only hope is that after an hour things would open up and my body would come alive.

Eventually I got in a better frame of mind, but my heartrate never did rise to the occasion. Well, we'll see what happens on the group ride. It's strange how one's performance can completely change when surrounded by other people.

Afraid that time was getting away from us, we decided not to do the short, but exhilarating Six Flags section of trail. 15 miles and barely 2 hrs later, we popped out of the trail to the parking lot expecting to see tons of cyclists eager to roll. Uh, where is everybody? Robb, Jenn, Millhouse, Kristen, Cyclesmith, and Al were there along with some chirping crickets. Ah man, I could have slept in till 5:30 if I'd known everyone was going to be so late. I'm ready to roll!

Eventually the throngs arrived, and all 45 of us hit the trail. There were lots of new faces for me, but plenty of familiar ones as well. Ony brought his brother, Joel, along for his first group ride. MarkD came all the way from Perry, and Bambam and Pebbles made another guest appearance.

Raja was the self designated ride leader for our group. With such a large gathering of people, it's impossible and pointless to try and keep everyone together. We ended up creating our own subgroup and just let things happen. As I suspected, my heart juices started flowing and my engine ran on all 4 cylinders this go round. I did not feel like superman by any means, but good enough to enjoy myself. It was a decent pace, and the only challenge was not getting stuck behind someone that would slow me down on the fast sections. It sucks when that happens, but you just make the best of it and try to fight for a better position for the next burst.

Halfway through the ride it became obvious I was in for another Xterra. The dark clouds loomed overhead and the thunder rumbled. It wasn't the light sprinkle that spooked us, it was the lightning, again. Time for the run portion of the triathlon. We made a dash for the Visitor Center which was serendipitously located a hop, skip, and a jump from trail. Everyone found their own way to have fun whilst hanging out under cover.

The swim portion of the ride resumed, but it was really more of an easy breast stroke. There never was a horrendous downpour, and the trails didn't become a treacherous deathtrap of slippery roots and rocks. But we all got nice and wet and dirty just to prove it was a full on Xterra for the day. RAMBO treated us all to a cookout of burgers and brats, and the sun came back out to remind us that summer was still here in all its Hot splendor.

4 hrs and 34 miles. Not bad for a triathlon.?. Rain or not, we had a great time with our mountain biking buddies, and laughed till our sides hurt. Cyclesmith and I acted like 3 year olds, while Al captured it all on camera. If we can't be young, we can at least act young;-)

I was a clever girl and kept my heart rate in check during Saturday's ride. I wanted to do a road ride Sunday, so I made sure no herculean efforts were put forth at Raccoon. Mission accomplished. I was still tired after 4 hrs, but pretty sure I would be able to walk the next day.

The only thing that competes with Raja's love for mountain biking is the siren call of Racing Cars. He had finagled a spot at Lexus's Performance School at Atl Motor Speedway. A morning of racing someone else's cars....he could not resist. That left me to my own devices.

Cam unknowingly agreed to babysit me for Sunday's ride. He and Damyankee were starting early for a road ride to beat the rain, which the weatherman said was not coming in until after 12:00. Yea, what do they know? Another triathlon?

As we pedaled off towards the black clouds, Cam reassured me the radar was clear and we would beat the rain. He had worked DamYank & a few others over on the Paris Mountain route on Saturday. Therefore, I had hopes they would be patient with my lameness today. At least I didn't feel like death on a stick, and was able to make the wheels go round. They humored me up the long Hulseytown climb, and we thought life was good. Until we made the turn towards Yorkville and saw the jet black sky. Time for triathlon #3!

We put it in a higher gear to pick up the pace. It was obvious this thing was closing in with vengence, and we had better get a move on fast. Of course, we were at the furthest point out on our ride, but there was a conveniently placed store at which we knew we could take cover. If we could just make it there before the bottom fell out. We barely did.

So here we are hanging out in Yorkville at a lovely convenience store with all the delightful Southern folks that frequent these joints on a Sunday mornin'. Lightning is striking so close I can feel my hairs stand on end, and the thunder crashes so loud I scream out practically jumping in Cam's arms. Nearby wafting cigarette smoke is about to gag me, but I can't venture too far out to escape the stench lest I die from electrocution. Yes siree, I love these triathlons.

After a looooooooooooong wait, we decide it's time to venture out for the swim portion of our race. This really was going to be a swim that just happens to be attempted with a bike beneath us. I can handle riding my mtn bike's 2.4" tires in the rain, but riding through hub deep waters on 2mm wide slick tires.....ayiiiii!!! Rooster tail from the bike in front blinded me, and the thunder rumbling in the distant terrified me. It could have been 10x worse. It could have been coming down in buckets. I have been in much dire situations than this on the road. I wasn't freezing to death, 2 guys were watching out after me, and my car was less than 15 miles away.

I laughed when Cam said, "I like it when you put on your brakes, and it just makes you go faster." That pretty much sums up what it's like riding in the rain on the road. Damyankee couldn't handle the part where we went 4 wheelin' to get back on the Comet. No problem for me, I do that all the time. It's called Mountain Biking! Cam tackled it head on and did very well. I was impressed, especially since he won't touch his mountain bike anymore. In spite of the dreary rain, thunder, and lightning, we were amazed to see so many other cyclists riding on the Comet. Go figure? The only reason I was riding on it was as a means to get to my dry car.

We survived, and I went home to begin the ritual of drying out all my stinky wet equipment. This is getting tiresome. I do hope that was the last of my triathlons for the season.

Just to prove I can do a ride without a swim, I went out for a spin Monday night. That was so pleasant that I did it again this morning bright and early at 6:50. As much as I despise rising before 8:00, there is something magical about a sunrise ride. The birds seem to sing louder and there is a peaceful calm in the air. I saw deer, rabbits, cardinals, and even a friend taking her morning stroll. I should start every day with a bike ride. Sure beats doing those ridiculous rain rides.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Too bad you don't get a medal for completing one of those triathlons...but I guess just not getting electrocuted is a reward in itself! Congratulations! :)