Sunday, July 19, 2009

Renewed my membership in the OTB club

The picture pretty much sums up the endurance race I attempted yesterday, the Ithaca 6/12 hour. OTB stands for Over The Bars. I decided two days before to do the race and also to ride in the singlespeed class; I had not raced the SS yet this year. Ithaca is a great SS course as it is fairly tight and twisty with very little elevation change.

I had planned on doing a prerace lap to get a feel for the course but decided to just wait for the race itself. With a planned six hours and laps usually in the mid twenty minute range I would have plenty of time to learn the course. Chris Werth had done a lap earlier and told me the course was pretty fast and he thought it was better than when we run it in the opposite direction. I decided to switch the gearing on my bike to set it up for a little more speed.

At the start I lined up with two of my riding buddies, Mark and Wayne, also in the six hour SS class and we sized up the remaining competition. One rider I knew and was fairly confident that he would start out fast but fade in the later hours, the other I didn't know at all. Mark and Wayne are fast as they usually only ride SS's. I had done quite a bit of riding leading up to the race since I hadn't originally planned on racing. I wasn't sure how my legs would respond.

We rolled out at the start and the younger rider I knew, Brendan, jumped in front. I was a couple of riders back and content to sit back with Mark and Wayne a few more riders in back of me. One of the few climbs we encountered fairly early in the race had some roots on it and Brendan slipped his back wheel causing him to crash. A couple of us went around him but it wasn't long before he was right on my tail.

It seemed like we carried on a conversation for most of the first lap as I was content to not push much but occasionally push the speed in the open sections, forcing Brendan to chase me. With my taller gearing I was able to generate a higher top speed. I also made a few passes of other riders where I knew Brendan would have to wait before he was also able to pass. My plan was to have him chase me and wear out early. I could tell he was working hard as I would open up a small gap and then slow up. I didn't want to maintain a high pace as it was still early in the race.

Brendan began having problems with his chain coming off and eventually he faded and I was alone to race my own pace. I was feeling very good and surprised how comfortable I felt. After the fourth lap I was calculating that I should be able to get in at least 15 laps with no problem, and maybe even 17 laps if pushed it near the end. All I needed to do was stay steady as I was gaining an advantage of about 10-15 seconds per lap on second place.

But as soon I was starting to feeling comfortable is when disaster struck on the fifth lap. I came up a short rise with some speed and out into the open where the course immediately turned right and went back into the woods on a slight downhill. Unfortunately there was also a little dip as you started down and my weight was too far forward from the climb and turn and the front end dropped into the dip. The back did a flip, sending me over the bars and crashing hard.

I got back up, sorted myself out and noticed that both my kneecaps were bloody, the right one really seeping and I could see white underneath. Still having a lot of adrenaline from the race and the crash I pushed on to finish the lap but the knees were starting to ache. It took me a while to notice that my handlebar had been rotated back from the impact.

On the completion of the lap I headed over to promoter's trailer looking for some first aid. He rummaged around and found the antiseptic and bandages. We cleaned the wounds as best we could and then tried to tape a bandage on. The knee is not a very easy place to bandage.

I rode into my pit to put some duct tape around my knee in an attempt to hold the dressing in place and also to change the rear wheel to one with an easier gear since I was having trouble pedaling. After changing the wheel I started to go back out but had to turn around when I realized I had forgotten to fix the bars. Finally I started another lap but by this time I had long ago given up the lead to probably everyone else. The initial pedaling was painful but OK as long as I didn't press too hard. I completed the lap and figured I would try another.

It was on my seventh lap that the adrenaline must have worn off and the pain set in. The bandage was off my knee by the end of the first go round and blood was still oozing down the leg. I decided to pack it in after only three hours of my race. I have races planned for the next three weekends so there was no sense making things worse now.

On the ride home my knee really started to stiffen up. I was afraid that someone was going to have to carry me out of the car when I got home. While driving I noticed that I had some abrasions on my forehead caused by my helmet and glasses during the crash. Once home, for the rest of the evening i couldn't really bend my right knee at all.

This morning the knee was feeling better as I had taken quite a few Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator capsules which seemed to help. I went out for a short ride to keep the knee active and I could pedal, just not with any force on the right leg. The small hills became a left leg only cycling drill. I can't remember the last time I had a ride with as low a heart rate average as this ride.

Next week is the Stony time trial and I hope to be recovered in time for that. Training this week might be a little off but time will tell.

On a positive note we found out that Jason and family will be back in town the first week in August. We look forward to seeing all of them again. Especially since we have only seen our granddaughter back in January.

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