Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to the Course...

Ok, when I had to rush off to work, I left you hanging on the top of Witch's Hill. I was wobbly, but I had made it to the top and now I had to hang on for the downhill that had some sharp 90 degree turns. I was riding my brakes because I did not want to loose control and ride through a fence and into a field. Things leveled off and we were directed onto a "farm road" that led us towards the town of Neuhaus. I had to do a quick pull over for one or two minutes just to hit the inhaler again without falling off the bike and causing others to crash. Once back on the road I started to meet spectators just outside of Neuhaus. The route had us cross through an intersection and BAM!!!...Evil Climb Number 2!!! This one weaved and curved and was just as evil as Witch's Hill, but without the Witches. "Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp!!!!!" I was still managing to pass a few people slowly in the 27 tooth cog, and then the road changed from a residential street to a farm road. It became more narrow and bumpy. I had one last ugly curve in the road to make and I could hear, of all things, a steel drum band at the top knocking out "Shake Senora" and "Hot Hot Hot". Was I that loopy? I thought that I was in Switzerland?? Would there be margaritas at the top??? Yes, I was that loopy. Yes, I was in Switzerland. NO, there were no margaritas at the top! DAMN IT!!!

Alright, the race map had noted Witch's Hill and another doozie of a climb called The Beast. But was that it? The elevation map looked much bigger and longer for The Beast. I cruised down the farm road and up ahead was an intersection with a more prominent road. We turned right and BAM!!!...we hit The Beast and all of it's glory. It was back to the small chain ring and the 27 tooth cog. Now it was a steady long grind. Everyone had slowed down to crawl except for a few men who were charging up the hill out of their saddle. I had decided before I had even hit the climbs that I would stay in the saddle at all costs to keep the heart rate from sky rocketing over my LT. The spectators along the route were spread out now, but the best was the group of 5 men who had huge wooden yokes over their shoulders with the biggest fricking cowbells I have ever seen in my life. These things were the size of a semi-tractor trailer tire. There was a bell on each end of the yoke and the men were walking up the side of the road and the bells rang with each step they took. I kept climbing and actually picked up the pace as we passed the most awful smell coming from a barn that either had to be a milking barn of a rendering barn. GAG! Still grinding it out, I could see an aid station. I chucked an empty bottle and kept going up The Beast. We were now entering the town of Golden and there were more spectators, music, and an announcer. The announcer gave me a shout out, "At-lete 1643, Elizabet Gar-see-a from Ooston, Texas!"

With a left hand turn at the T in the road, we were rewarded with a long down hill! I was riding my brakes for most of it just because I was twitchy in the legs and there were a few towns that we went through that had some sharp corners. We had one last hill to make our way up and there was a multi-national crowd on this hill! Not only did I get "Hopp" but I got a "Venga Venga Venga!!!" and an "Allez Allez!!!" Again, once we came around a right corner, we were rewarded with a long straight-away that was all down hill! It was fast and furious. I used this time to eat and drink and let my legs take it easy. As we came into the town of Eschenbach, we came within yards of the other athletes going out on their second loop as they had finished Witch's Hill. It was downhill again and we got some warning signs to watch the steep 15% grade and use caution. As we cleared out of the trees, I started to feather the breaks. I saw that U-turn at the bottom of the hill! Oh Holy CRAP! S--t, S--t, S--t!!! Don't wipe out or take out anyone else! ARGH!!!

Whew! I swung wide, but I made it. Now it was 6 miles of gentle rollers back in to the turn-around at mile 26 and then out on the second loop. More drinking, and more Clif Shot Blocks.

On my second loop around mile 4/30 I saw Ryan heading in to go start his run and not far behind him I saw Lauren at mile 5/31 finishing up her first loop. I knew I had those three Evil Climbs ahead of me. I had done them once, I could do it again. I hit Witch's Hill and grinded my way to the top still able to pass one or two people along the way. YAHOO!!! I made it to the top. I guess the cows were proud of my efforts because they Moo-ed at me as I passed on the way down hill. My legs were tired and twitchy. I had some flat road to relax before I hit the second Evil Climb.

When I got to Neuhaus, I hit the climb and I could feel my legs wanting to call it quits. NO!!! I focused on the pavement and I saw the road change from the residential street to the farm road. OMG! My quads were going to seize up! Come on! Make the last curve! F--K!!! ABORT! ABORT! DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!! I barely unclipped one foot and my vastus medialus (the quad muscle on the inside near the knee) on each leg cramped up HARD. The spectators caught me before I fell over into the electrified cattle fence. That would not have been good. I was in a world of pain as I looked down at my legs and witnessed my muscles disappear as they crawled up into my body and all that was left was saggy and wrinkled skin around my knees where muscles once had been. AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!! Being in labor was the worst pain that I have ever experienced and this ranked right up there with it. Messing up my knee, falling off my bike and crashing, and having my finger slammed in a car door could not hold a candle to this pain. I could not bend my knees and I was screaming at the top of my lungs. One of the spectators said he was going to go get a Medic. NO NO NO!!! DON'T GET THE MEDIC!!! If a medic saw me, they would pull me off the course. I was going to finish this race come Hell or high water. There might not be climbs like this in Texas, and I may be down, but I was not out. I slugged down 4 or 5 S-caps and guzzled half a bottle of water and started trying to bend my knees. Once I got a little movement I started trudging up the last 1/4 of the climb towards the steel drum band. The hill was too steep and my legs were too fried to try to climb on the bike and start pedaling. I wanted to find a stretch of flatter pavement. I had a heck of a time trying to swing my leg over the bike, but I did it and I headed on my way to meet The Beast. The S-caps were working. The weather was mild compared to Houston and there was just enough breeze to evaporate any sweat that I had on me, but the low humidity did me in and I got behind in my hydration and electrolyte replacement even though I had consumed 40 oz of Accelerade and 20 oz of water with the extra salty Margarita flavored Shot Blocks and S-Caps. I had no problems getting up The Beast and I just focused on taking it easy on the legs the rest of the way in before the run.

Raw Data: Minimum Altitude--1332 ft. Max Altitude--2418 ft. Ascent--1085 ft. per loop. Total Ascent--2170 vertical ft. of climbing in 56 miles!!!

Ok, I have to get some shut eye...hang in there for the run!

Later Gators,



Jeff said...

OMG Liz, you've got me hanging on every word! I could almost feel your pain there at the end.

greyhound said...

Ow! I've never cramped up like that before, thank goodness. Nice recovery.

Paul said...

Electric cow fence? Holy course hazards... wow

Viv said...

Holy hell Liz, to do that loop once and then do it again. It would have messed with me. I am glad you were able to recover and get back on the bike. You are seriously made out of iron.