Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Whole Lot of Stuff, I think

Let's see, what has happened since my fun trip to the hospital? I think a few things have so I will try and write about them.

So, a few weeks ago I was talked into doing another marathon distance mountain bike race. It sounded good at the time. So, me and the Stick packed our things and headed out to Oden, Arkansas (population 200) for the Ouachita Challenge a 60 mile off road race. Not much to really mention on the drive up there, other than the 8 hour commute wasn't all that bad. We took the scenic route through small towns, which turned out to be more enjoyable than expected.

We arrived at our cabin around 2-3pm Saturday and immediately got ready for a preride. Andrew knew some of the trails in the surrounding area so we set out on a 1 hr adventure. The trails were in pretty good shape, but I was certainly feeling the drive because my legs were stiff. After our ride, we met up with the people we were renting the cabin from and unloaded our things. Soon after, we headed to the registration area to check in and eat our free spaghetti. We chatted with fellow racers and before we knew it, it was time for bed.

We woke up early Sunday morning around 5am to get loaded up and fed before our 60 mile ride of pain. To our surprise it was fairly warm out, which was exciting. Unfortunately, our hopes and dreams of great weather would soon be shattered as a storm rolled in, bringing rain, wind, and cold. We kitted up and headed to the start with hundreds of other racers. Eventually, after a long wait, the start was happening and people were already trying to tear one anothers legs off. I tried to keep myself under control, because I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Andrew and I had planned on staying together to help one another out, but that plan was soon thwarted when I had my first of six flats. Andrew stopped, but I told him to ride on, hoping I'd see him again. The next two hours proved to be a very trying time. Every few minutes, I would get a flat or my tire would start leaking air. I was on and off the bike so much I had a tough time settling into a consistent tempo, so I wasn't feeling that great. The mental battle was raging in my head, but before I knew it, my legs opened up and I felt like I could ride my bike...finally. I began picking up the pace, trying to reel in as many guys as I could, but I was already set back quite a bit, so I just rode my own speed. The most comical thing about the race to me was that the further you got into the race, the more climbing and more difficult terrain there was. I even had to dismount and wade through a river. So, things were starting to get tough. Some sections were even unrideable, by me at least.

I had already decided in my head that Andrew was so far in front of me, that I would never see him again, and I would have to hear how bad he spanked me on our 8 hr drive home, but he was struck with some bad luck and had a major flat. It was somewhat motivating to be riding with someone you know again. We came out of the woods together and onto the last 8 mile dirt road and Andrew laid down the hammer on the flats picking up a few spots here and there. I tried my best to support by pacing him back up on the climbs. We probably picked up 5-7 spots so in the end we finished 45th and 46th out of 200 some riders, both with a time of 6hours and 25mins, I believe. It was a long day on the bike.

One thing that I have been thinking about lately is how difficult it is to be a cyclist in Houston. Good routes are in short supply so I think it really goes to show how dedicated much of the Houston area cyclists are. Now, I'd love to have epic riding like there is in California or Colorado, but I have to say I enjoy riding my bike in Houston. Maybe it's just a good excuse for me as to why I'm so slow, ha.

Anyway, I think that covers anything substantial I had to say. The end of the semester is getting closer and I am starting to feel the pressure, which is never good and the MS-150 has been making the bike shop a nightmare at times. Oh well, I will prevail.

PS. Happy Easter