Saturday, December 12, 2015

Days 9 & 10, Almost Match Point

Days 9 and 10, 4:30am to 9:30pm next day-41hrs, 272 miles

Note: I am treating day 9 & 10 as a single duration because even though I stopped twice neither pause was truly a full recovery stop.
The alarm went off with the usual shock and as I dressed and packed I analyzed the crash damage.  I felt ok as long as I didn’t breathe in to deeply or lift my left arm above a certain point.  Also I couldn’t ‘pull’ any bag straps with my left hand as this caused rather sharp pains in my chest. But I had a sense I would be ok to ride the typically non-technical TDR terrain without too much difficulty.  Once out the door and on my way it was once again a perfect day weather wise. Overall 2015 was ‘record setting’ conditions just about every day.  I was curious and looking forward to the new for 2015 section coming up.  This new section does have a short push-a-bike up a very steep bit of ATV trail (ha, you walk right where the mosquitos are thickest).  But once up high its truly one of the more scenic sections.  

One of the common questions any TDR racer is asked is some version of “WHY”.  Why do you do it, why do you like it, why do you want to go back etc etc.  Part of my answer both to myself and others is what I call ‘magic moments’.  A magic moment is when you are temporary lifted to a higher level.  It could be the rush from a fun & fast downhill section.  Or maybe the taste of a meal at the end of a long day.  I experience magic in some amount at least once every day on the TDR (ha, even the worst days at least once).  Many times it’s the sun rising or setting, coupled with a fantastic view out across wild terrain.  Such was the case around 7:30 am that morning.  I had left the nasty mosquitos and push-a-bike behind and traversed some ‘alpine high’ 2-track.  Ahh at about 9600 feet, with some warm sun and views to forever I was off to a great start for day 9.  For a just short time all the mental stress, minor aches and resupply concerns were put aside and once again the magic flowed.

I reached Pinedale about 3:15pm, resupplied on food and found a drug store for some more Aleve pills and my current favorite chamois cream (Lanacane anti-chafing gel).  By 6:15pm I was past the convenience store at Boulder (big ice cream sandwich) and headed into the big fast rollers with the Wind River Mtn Range to my left.  So far the day had flowed along quite nicely, in 2010 this area of the route was a highlight and for a few hours was enjoyable in 2015. 
funny but I think I felt like the driver about now
But as night approached things began to go south just a bit.  My left knee and achilles once again became almost unbearable but there was no easy location to soak in any flowing ice water. 
Oh, I forgot to mention in my day 8 post that back then I had finally discovered my handlebars had somehow become twisted about ¾ of an inch to the left.  I had ridden over 1000 miles in a non-symmetrical position. Needless to say I think this was a significant factor in over stressing my left knee. 

Anyway back to the evening of day 9. In retrospect at this point I should have found a good camp spot and got in a full nights recovery. However I had set a goal to pull a 160 mile day and reach the rest stop at Hwy 28.  The riding was easy, I still felt the need to push and despite the growing knee problem I pressed on.  Once at the rest stop I tucked into the handicap stall, bike and all and locked the door.  The plan was to sleep for 4 hours and be gone by 4:00am. 
Unfortunately I could not relax and sleep.  After 2 to 3 hours of non-sleep I packed up and moved on.  I discouragingly read all the ‘go JP’ signs painted along the shoulder of the highway and began to feel really sorry for myself, no painted signs of encouragement for poor ol me.  Two miles later just past the turn towards Atlantic City I stopped and had a bit of a break down.  Not knowing exactly why I found myself just sitting in the middle of the road, wondering what to do.  My mind was more than a bit foggy.  I remember thinking how I wanted to stop at Atlantic City for some food but would be well past there by the time the one restaurant possibility might open.  My knee was inflamed and slightly swollen and the rest of me also felt like crap, and why was I just sitting here?  This was so atypical.  Far away the sky was getting light, the sun coming up.  Then I had a mini revelation that went something like; Marshal you are such an idiot of course you feel like crap as you have not had any real sleep for almost 24 hours, just ride to Atlantic City, fine a spot and sleep till the café opens.  And just like, in a few seconds my mind cleared, my spirits lifted and I was on task.
Once at Atlantic City I saw I could lay out my bag inside the big Teepee.  I slept for about 2.5 hours and then got up and went into the now open café and got some hot breakfast.  Looking back I can see I should have slept for at least 4 hours but couldn’t see the logic at the time.

Leaving Atlantic City in the late morning the day was once again perfect and so was I, at least for a few hours.  A couple of hours later and I was soaking the knee in ice cold water at Diagnus Well.  
multiple uses for cold water
I didn’t need drinking water but that soak was the only thing that kept me going.  Feeling restored I pushed thur the new cutoff over the truly remote feeling backcountry trails. 
The wind was fighting me but I really enjoyed this new cutoff, my magic moment for day 10.  However when I reached the gravel road into Wamsutter I was once again mentally out of gas.  A quick Spot dot check shows that last 25 miles into Wamsutter took 2.5 hours or 10mph.  Not nearly as bad as it felt at the time but several racers had flown swiftly by depressing me to no end. And to top it off my digestive system was causing me all kinds of grief; guess it was not use to a real breakfast followed by massive amounts of trail mix.
It was about 9:30 pm when I reached the big Wamsutter truck stop and began my usual resupply routine.  However my first step away from the bike I felt the achillies begin to pop and grind.  Humm, that's a bad bad sign.  My first thought was, damm race over, no way I am making it to Antelope Wells with that level of injury.  After thinking about it for a few minutes I turned on the smartphone and called one of the possible 'pre-race researched' hotel rooms in town and yes, confirmed a room was available.  I loaded up with food and drink and plastic bags swinging from my bars rode to the room.  When I checked in I confirmed I could stay two nights if needed.  Wow was it a gunslingers worst nightmare of a room, trashed trashed trashed, but the door locked and it had a bed and bathroom. Plus I had a bag of ice and a rough plan.  I called my wife and told her to make plans to pick me up as I was sure my leg was done for.  I ate a meal, cleaned up and then lay on the bed with lots of ice tucked under my achillies and on top of both knees, ate and drank some more and slowly fell asleep, about 90% sure match point was at hand and my race was done. 

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