Monday, October 14, 2013

Stomach and Mind Fail

Fail…hmmm, yet another story of an uncompleted challenge I took on…

Last October, I successfully completed and won the Coco250 stage race thanks to the fact that no one fast or in a racing mindset rode the race(and I felt really great and had no mechanicals!).  So this year comes along and I figured, OK, let’s do an ITT of the loop and gun for the recently set SS record of 36 hours and change set by Bobby Treadwell last week.  My cumulative stage race time was roughly 32 hours for the stage race leaving me about 4 hours of time for sleep and sections of the course not “on the clock” for the stage race.

I arrived at our cabin in Munds Friday afternoon and while organizing gear I realized I’d forgotten my battery packs for my lights….Sh*t. A few calls, several 4 letter words later, my wifes friend from PHX was on her way up and dropped them off Friday night.  During that time, my emotions went from “crap, I’m done” to “I’m still in!”…  (many thanks to her!)

So, after a few hours of sleep, I woke up Saturday AM at 4, and got ready to head out.  Unfortunately, there were still some doubts in my head about the next 36 hours.  Putting those aside, I left in the cold and dark at about 5:30, rolled south on the interstate a few miles, and joined the route at I-17 and Schnebly Hill Rd at about 5:50AM. 

As I began the descent down Munds Wagon Trail, I passed Caroline who had stopped to take a picture and remove a layer.  Pressing on, I dropped into Sedona, made my way around Chicken Point and then down by Oak Creek where I had a near miss with a big Cottonwood tree. 

Onward to Lime Kiln, I did the ugly HAB up the first ridge, then happily nailed all the switchbacks off the west side.  I battled epic wheel sucking sand and goat heads across the valley floor and finally arrived in Cottonwood where I stopped at Hog Wild for a BBQ Sandwhich…oh, and 3 root beers…. Which may have led to my eventual demise. 

You see, for some reason, my 48 year old body has decided that when doing endurance races, it doesn’t like excessive sugar…but oh, that root beer tasted so good!

Onward up Mingus, I kept looking up at the towers and yelling at the top of my lungs…”It’s not that far!...  Finally hitting the single track,  I did my usual fast HAB pace, up the loose, rocky trail.  I felt much better than last year, but like Mingus usually does, it handed me my a$S in a big way.  I even tromped through snow on the last couple rocky switchbacks to the summit.

At the top, I put layers back on in preparation for the descent.  As I reached the last smooth switchbacks on the descent(that are so damn much fun!), I came up upon a kid, maybe 20 or so, who was off his bike taking pictures.  He moved his bike off the trail then asked me, “Where did you park?”, I said, “Just south of Flagstaff in Munds”…his eyes got very big and he said, “DAMN!  You’re crazy! You’re a champion!”….lol…so funny.

Rolling north on the west side of Mingus, my mind began to get the best of me.  I started thinking about the task ahead.  Fighting to keep focused, I pressed on feeling really good and making good time.  I worked my way around the north side of Mingus, putting on my lights as darkness fell, and kept thinking about my plan.  “just get to the river, refill water, and climb for at least 3 hours before a short nap”…then at about 6:30pm, my stomach flipped…ughhh…sh*t…  Then the mind got weak…I’ve had stomach issue before…if it comes on bad, I’m worthless.  And given the fact that once I descend to the Verde, I’ve got to dig myself out of that hole….either going north to Williams, or south to Jerome.  So I stopped at that intersection on the north end of Mingus and called my wife.  Talked to her about things…she gave me great advice…just rest a bit and see how you feel.

So I jumped in my bivy and rested… and slept…all the while my stomach gurgled…

In my head, I felt done…but at the same time felt like the record may still be within reach but it would take at least 18 hours straight of riding…

This is that moment where your drive and desire is in competition with your body and mind…for me and my conservative mindset, I convinced myself I was done.  I slept till 6AM then called my wife and met her at 9:30 in the Verde Valley.

There are some interesting things for me in this…every one of these, especially the failures, teaches me more about myself…
1. ITT’s are not only a test of your body, but moreso your mind.  Riding with others on multi-day trips are SO MUCH EASIER.
2.  Prior to the ride, you have to have NO DOUBTS in your mind…all in, no excuses.
3.  My body (other than my stomach) is up to the task…Training your body is easy.  Just ride a lot and mix in some intensity.
4.  Keep sugar to a minimum…I should know better…my last several multi-day trips have taught me this.

So, there you have it…That’s my story….
And I’m stickin’ to it.