Well, that didn't end how I thought it would. I figured I'd take a decent shot at making at least halfway through the race. Instead, Trans Iowa beat me up and stole my lunch money. It tied me to a chair and made me watch reruns of Full House. It dressed me up in a polka-dot pink sun dress and forced me to hum Celene Dion songs through a plastic kazoo. And once it was finally done with me, Trans Iowa rolled up to CP1 and tossed me out of it's still moving windowless van, a half hour behind the time cut.
Yup, seven months obsessing about this race and it ends 50 miles in. Damn.
I have plenty of excuses. Want to hear them? Too bad. Here goes...
- Despite being described as "hero gravel", it was anything but for the first few hours of the race. Instead, it was a sloppy mess. It had been raining most of the week and we started out in a heavy mist. I ate plenty of mud those first 10 miles as it was being flung in my face by whoever was in front of me at the time. It started to dry up once the sun came out, but along with the sun came...
- The wind. 15-20MPH, in my face (edit: found out it was closer to 25MPH). Good lord, that didn't help. Of course, that would have been manageable if it wasn't for...
- Those damn hills. Yarrgh, so many hills. Not big enough to block the wind, but definitely enough to curse. Still, in spite of all that I still probably could have made it if it wasn't for the off-course trek down...
- The B road from Hell. Ok, so almost all B roads are "from Hell" when they're that wet. What made this one worse was that it wasn't even on the route! UGH! A good half hour wasted tromping through the mud and grass.
So, coming out of the B road I was running behind the time cut. It looked like my original plan of pacing myself and taking it easy was not looking good, so I started pushing it. I knew it meant I'd eventually cramp, but I figured I didn't have much choice at that point. I sucked every wheel I could and rode harder then I had in quite a while. Of course, I'm me and me hasn't trained as hard as I should have over the winter. Eventually the cramps forced me off the bike. As I stood near the top of a hill, tearing into a package of Clif Shot Blocks, I heard someone calling my name. It was Robb. "How did you get in front of me?" Uhh... Good question. He urged me back on the bike as he went by, telling me to jump on his wheel. I did the best I could, but it wasn't happening. I watched him ride off as I limped up the next hill.
And that's how the rest of the ride went for me. I'd limp on, stop every now and then, try to grab the occasional wheel, etc etc painful disappointing etc. The checkpoint almost came as a mercy killing. I was just happy to be done.
In all, almost half the racers missed the first cut. I tied off my flag to a tree and sat down next to a couple other racers. I chatted with a few and got to meet Nick Wethington, who runs the Cup O' Dirt challenge. Eventually I imposed myself on four other racers and we all started the long ride back to Grinnell. Turned out to be a good trip back as the guys were pretty entertaining. Unfortunately the only name I remember was Ari. Glad I rode with them. It made the ride a lot better.
Alright, so all whining aside I still had a good time. Yeah, it's my first DNF since I returned to racing last year but I went in expecting not to finish. I'm disappointed in myself, but it's still ok. Besides, there were plenty of bright spots...
- Both Robb and I were interviewed for a TI documentary that was being filmed. It'll be interesting to see if either of us end up in the final product.
- By the time the day was done, I had 80 miles in. Good enough for Cup O' Dirt and a decent day of training if nothing else.
- Lance Andre signed my Chuck Norris poster (see pic below). If you're wondering why I'm so geeked about this, here's why.
- Got to meet some new people. It takes me a while to get comfortable around new people or in new situations, but I'm starting to warm up.
- Robb made the time cut at CP2 before pulling out. Congrats, Robb!
- Most of all, I'm now a TI vet. Looking forward to V8, if they have it.
Alright that's enough for now. Enjoy some pics in random order.