Sunday, September 27, 2009

30 Miles of Pain Haven Lives Up To Its Name

Yesterday I raced in the 30 Miles of Pain Haven near Midland, MI and the course lived up to its name. I raced there last year and had fun plus it's a benefit race for the local Michigan Mountain Biking Association chapter. The course is a lot of singletrack interspersed with some fast two track sections. The singletrack has a lot of little bumps in it that wear you out after a while.

I planned on using the full suspension Scalpel but also took the other two bikes just in case. The geared 29'er in case when I got there that the 29'er seemed more appropriate, and the singlespeed in case the predicted rain came before the race and made the trails really muddy. Although I drove through rain in spots on the way up to the race, the course itself was dry and it was not raining. I decided to go with the Scalpel as planned. While preriding I discovered that the bike seemed to have some play in the rear linkage, something I had not really noticed before. Good thing I brought the other bikes as backups.

The race has a different twist in that starting waves are decided by a one mile time trial before the start of the XC race. The TT course is on the most technical part of the trail. I did not want to waste a lot of energy or push too hard on the TT to the point where I might crash. I guess I was just postponing the inevitable.

My time for the TT put me in the 4th wave with one guy in my class starting 20 seconds in front of me, the others behind. Over the period of 30 miles I thought I should be able to make up the 20 seconds. What I didn't know was that the guy in front was also one of the trail builders and rides the trail all the time. The value of local knowledge on twisty singletrack should never be underestimated.

As we started into the trail I was just feeling my way around the course, trying to get familiar with the trail. A lot of it looked alike and it was difficult to remember what was around the next corner. I would see the first place rider but with all the twists and turns it was hard to tell how far ahead he was. I noticed that at times I seemed to be gaining ground and other times losing it. I'm not the best singletrack rider and he was putting time on me in these areas where I was gaining on the flats and hills.

At the start of the second lap I was closing in but had my first miscue for the day, a small crash that allowed him to slip away. I managed to catch up to him a little over half way through the lap but didn't want to pass as I was able to use him to guide me around the course. At the start of the third lap he slowed to pick up a bottle and I went past. He eventually caught back up but I stalled on a tight corner when my foot accidentally unclipped. We both ran up the hill and I got back on but caught a pedal and crashed. Fortunately he was still behind me a ways. I started to pull away but ended up bobbling another section, allowing him to pass. I'm not sure why I was so out of synch in this section.

I slowly started to reel him back in as I could see him ahead of me. My plan was to either get in front of him before the last section of singletrack leading to the finishing straight away, or stay on his tail and try to out sprint him at the end. Everything unraveled in the blink of an eye.

I went over a large log pile that I had no trouble with the previous two laps, only to discover that some of the logs on the backside were gone, having been kicked aside by previous rider's wheels. The path I had chosen caused the front wheel to drop in a gap and stick, meaning the whole bike rotated around the front wheel, up and over with me attached. I slammed into the ground and felt instant pain as the wind was sort of knocked out of me.

Normally when you crash you let out one good "oof" or an expletive and then hop back on. This time I had a few more grunts while still on the ground for what seemed like forever but was probably only 10 seconds or so. Getting up I my left ribs were hurting and it was painful to take deep breaths. Great, still a few miles to go.

I got back on the bike and pedaled gingerly for a couple of minutes while assessing the situation. It didn't seem to be getting worse but it was a little difficult to really muscle the bike around. I didn't think I would have much luck catching first but now was worried about those behind me. I hadn't seen anyone close but wasn't sure how fast I would be going for the remainder of the lap. I just wanted to finish.

I managed to make it through, still in second place. After the race we sat around waiting for the awards, food, and door prizes to be given away. I wasn't feeling too bad as I loaded up the van but by the time I was getting close to home, after driving for over an hour and a half, the adrenaline from the race had worn off and the ribs were starting to ache.

At home Sandy and Greg unloaded the van while I showered. Sandy had convinced me to go to the Med center to get x-rays taken. But she also was making me laugh which made it hurt even more. While the doctor was examining me he was kind enough to remind me that I'm not 20 anymore. Gee, thanks Doc. It was when he pressed on my side and I winced that he decided to have the x-ray taken. Fortunately it turned out to be negative and the ribs were only? bruised. He prescribed some pain killers and muscle relaxants.

I took a couple pills last night and felt better but seemed to get a little nauseous after one of the pills, even though I had taken them with food. But they did seem to help. I woke up in the middle of the night and took a few more and again this morning.

Overall the pain has subsided to where I can do a few things including mowing the front yard and joining Sandy on a bike ride to the cider mill. The taste of fresh cider and warm cinnamon doughnuts more than made up for any pain. Actually, pedaling didn't hurt, maneuvering the bike around was the only thing that bothered my ribs.

Yesterday was also a day for x-rays for our black lab, Angus. He had been limping off and on for the last week or so and it didn't seem to be getting any better. Sandy took him to the vet where they checked him out. It turns out he has stretched out a ligament that may or may not heal on its own. But the biggest surprise is when the vet informed Sandy that Angus had had a broken leg at one time. The x-ray showed a big pin in his leg from a prior operation. That would explain why that leg looked a little awkward. Since we got Angus from the pound no one knew about his prior condition. Hopefully the pain meds we have for him will help him feel better. But with his laid back disposition it would be hard to tell the difference.

This week's training/workouts are up in the are along with my plans for the night cyclocross race this Saturday. Hopefully I can still make it as it looks like it should be exciting.

The cider mill we prefer, up the road from the one on the trail that is more crowded but less personable.

The mill sells a lot of homemade products including breads and jams.

Cider is made on site, unpasteurized. Delicious hot or cold.

Live entertainment was a perfect compliment to the simple pleasure of doughnuts and cider.

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