Saturday, April 11, 2009

Curse of Hopbrook

My first sign of the weekend of ugliness awaiting me should have been the weekday flare-up complete with burning muscles, thumb tacks in my joints, difficulty breathing, mouth sores and sausage fingers. Then comes the cold and rain...I should know better than to pre-register for events! Did I listen to reason? Well...of course not! I love to ride in wet, muddy conditions. However, if you're having trouble the morning of because your hands won't cooperate to zip up your bag, your legs burn in pain walking the stairs, and loading the car feels like a major endurance event, you probably shouldn't race...lesson learned. Really, I swear, lesson learned.

It wasn't raining when we got there. We parked looking over the lake and this was enough to send Ike into a fit of whining and moaning. He watched a black lab swim and his cries turned into this pathetic whimpering. I told him after the race he could swim. The temperature seemed to drop each hour. Mike and I did a pre-lap and I just shrugged my lazy legs and "not having it" off to not being warmed up. Sure. Denial. We were pleasantly surprised about how "dry " and fast the course was for Hopbrook. I've never ridden it when it didn't feel like riding in chocolate pudding. Now I had to do it...

I changed clothes and Ike and I went to get my number. Okay, here's a pointer, when you're supposed to be doing a race in a hour and half the walk to the registration booth should not be a daunting task. Ike turned on the charm in the registration tent and slobbered over every muffin-eating volunteer in hopes they would share. No dice. On the way back to the car Ike attempted to bee-line for the lake. Nice try, but no way.

Of course it started to rain. It wouldn't be Hopbrook without rain, mud, ice, or snow..

I stopped by the car after my warm-up to shed my rain coat and pants. I put on my glasses and I may as well have spit on them and rolled them in the mud. That's how uselees they were. No glasses today. At the line it began to rain a little harder. My body tensed as the freezing rain ran down my back. Wow, why do I do this again?Normal people are sitting in a movie theatre eating uber-tubs of buttered popcorn and I'm getting ready to ride a bike for two hours in rain and mud. Good choice. Most racers were clad in tights, long sleeves and or/jackets. I say most because there's always the one who has no common sense... I couldn't get over the fact that one racer was only wearing shorts and a jersey. What a dumb-ass! It started to rain a little harder and said girl complained about being cold...most of the field looked at her with the expression that read, "No shit you dumb-ass..."

Rolling to the line for the start, after having been entertained by the stupidity of one of my fellow racers, I forgot for a brief moment how I felt. At the whistle, I started well and got into the single-track in good shape. I started to pass people and stuck to the race plan of going out and trying to blow myself up. Unfortunately, the body blew a little earlier than expected and I had to back off. I rode a pretty even pace for a lap. I felt weak but I was still moving. I had zero power and no ability to push. The next thing I remember is a man asking me if he could walk me to the car...What the...? I heard ,"Are you okay?" I was on the ground and in the fetal position. I had the wind knocked out of me and I felt like a truck hit me. I slid in a corner and my handlebar had caught on a tree, lost control, the handlebar went into my ribcage and somehow I ended up taking the stem in my chest, knocking the wind out of me. I took the usual inventory of myself to make sure all parts were accounted for. The guts of my helmet were no longer attached to my helmet on one side. My bottles had escaped and one was down the hill and the other was under my leg. I feel like I sat there forever. The man kept insisting he walk me back to my car. What's with taking me to the freakin' car? Am I missing an appendage or something? Bloodied? Nah...all parts were accounted for...I just needed to get my bike and body upright and put my helmet back together... I stood up and here comes Mike up the trail.."What are you doing?". ..What did he think I was doing? Stopping to watch? Having a picnic? I got back on and tried to focus. I had to stop and blow the mud out of my nostrils and make an attempt to clean the mud out of my eyes. I felt like I was pedaling backwards...

In my disoriented state I was confused when I caught back up to Mike. I was riding behind him and he was swerving and riding like a drunkard. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought. He looked and saw me and told me he had just crashed face-first. We compared crash notes. We actually were stopped and were talking on the course. A racer who had dropped out was watching the "Jocelyn and Mike Show" in disbelief. We bickered and discussed quitting and riding to the car, had the "if you quit, I'll quit" conversation. Moments later we were both riding and finishing the race.

Needless to say there was no swimming for Ike. Even he has more sense than to go out in this weather. He was quite content to be curled up in a ball in the back seat. Oh, the sweet misery. I'm still cleaning mud out of my ears. The bikes are trashed, my jersey will never be the same and there aren't enough ice packs in the northeast...

I'm not looking forward to getting out of bed in the morning.

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