Day 8, Jackson Lake, before thing go wrong....
Day 8, 5:30am to 10:00pm, 142 miles
My TDR day 8 was a rather short day time wise and good miles overall, but ended rather badly.
The day started with a ride on the notorious rails-to trail section down to the Warm River campground. Personally this section of trail is not a big deal, basically just standing and slowly riding thru continuous sandy woops.
Along the way I saw a moose and ran across fellow racer Rob Davidson. I upped my pace bit to ride and chat with Rob for about 20 miles or so. Once again it was difficult to deal with miss-matched gearing systems. I seem to remember Rob was running an internal 14 speed Rohloff hub. Where he had the gearing range to cruise this slightly downhill section of trail I was stuck between spinning and standing and worked hard to keep his pace. However having someone to chat with was nice, but once we hit the pavement at the end of the rails to trails section I was spent and stopped trying to match Rob’s pace. (note: even with a wider range of gearing I would not have been able to hold Robs pace long term but the difference would probably have been much smaller, at least I like to think so….).
To give you an idea of the ‘difference’ a review of our recoded Spot dots show that 50 miles later Rob had gained 1 hour. After 95 miles Rob was 37 minutes ahead and he apparently reached the same Lava Mtn Lodge for the night 20 minutes ahead of me, interesting.
After I let Rob go I stopped at the Squirrel Creek Elk Ranch and snagged a coke and chatted with the owner. In my 2010 TDR I had stopped at the Squirrel Creek Elk Ranch after a rather nasty spill back on the rails to trail section and they fixed me a hamburger and got me up and going again. This year I sort of stopped just to remember and later it seems crashing was the theme for 2015.…. Any way back in 2010 the Squirrel Creek Elk Ranch knew about the TDR, but not much. Now days a lot of racers stop there and they know all about the race. Well the coke didn’t last long because one hour later, for the 1st ever time in my life, I literally fell asleep while riding. I woke up in the middle of the dirt road moving at a slow speed while tipping over and barely saved myself from a slow motion crash. (ha, the real crash would come later). Time for a power nap!
I stopped and Flagg Ranch and bought a big ice cream sandwich and pre-charged battery back to try to recharge my helmet light. Shortly after I stopped at the Colter Bay Convenience store and did the re-supply thing. I also took the time to turn on my phone, call my wife, call and pay in advance for a room at the Lava Mtn Lodge (and arranged for a ‘after closing hours’ hamburger dinner to be waiting in said room). I also noticed that Lael Wilcox was about 10 min ahead of me. Later I would see her bike parked next to a lodge but didn’t actual see her.
I made a stop up at the Togwotee Lodge but quickly pressed on as I had a room and dinner waiting just over the pass. It was just getting dark as I hit the dirt section just past Togwotee pass.
At this point I was excited to soon finish up the day and reach my room (and that dinner). I knew the lodge would be just closed by the time I arrived but because I had pre-arranged for the room and dinner to be waiting I really had no good reason to hurry. But hurry I did, looking forward to ending my day in a warm room with a cooked meal just waiting.
I paid for this stupid hurry with a hard fast crash, I mean this was the full blown real deal, haven’t done one like that in years. Ya I know, stupid stupid, riding with lights off to conserve helmet light battery life, rounding a downhill corner, barely seeing in the fading light a set of ruts, reaching up to flip the light on, hitting the ruts before getting fully re-centered and then hitting the dirt, hard.
In a flash I slammed down hard enough to knock my breath out and slide face first in the dirt. Dazed and confused, like in an old school XC race, I jump up and start riding. After a minute or two I slowly realize I somehow hurt but not sure how. Not too much pain (yet), mostly a huge adrenalin rush. Bike seems ok (later I saw a snapped velcro strap on my top tube bag). Ribs and knee hurt some but hey I am up and moving so how bad can it be…...
It’s now full dark and getting cold fast, now I don’t just 'want' but truly 'need' that hotel room. About 25 minutes later, in said room, I struggle to take off my jersey. Looking at myself in the bathroom mirror I see a strange thing--humm seems my chest is no longer symmetrical but is now literally pushed slightly off to one side. Whoa, what the *&%#. My chest is ‘bent’ and ‘off center’. That was more than a little scary but I gently pushed on my rib cage and it all slid back into place and it stayed. Well, now what?
My thinking at the time was I was next door to real help if things went south, not in too much pain, so let’s eat and sleep on it. Let’s just wait and see how things look and feel in the morning.
Long story short I think I cracked a rib, not to painful but it was noticeable the rest of the race. And it took several months of slowly healing to get back to 100%. Post-race I now realize this crash had a much bigger impact on me than I realized at the time. At the time it seemed to be mostly a minor annoyance that soon became mostly a background issue.
But hey, man oh man, was that hamburger dinner good, was even still a bit warm. Real food followed by a hot shower and warm bed……..