Monday, June 20, 2011

Monkey Wrench

So I wish I had some good news. I'm finally ready to pull on my big girl pants and write about what happened at the Lumberjack. It took me a day or two to come out of what felt like a psychotic break. I'm okay now. I think. I hope.

14 hours in the truck

I knew it was not going to end well for me. I had been flared up the week before we left. I had sores in my mouth, nose and throat, the low grade fever, high resting heart rate and the basic fatigue and shitty feeling that comes with this auto-immune thing. The weekend before the Lumberjack was the first weekend in a really long time that I did not touch the bike or do any sort of activity that required movement because I was sick. Wednesday I attempted to do a ride with the guys and I could only spin on the roads because I was so exhausted and because my joints were giving me hell and I couldn't hold onto the handlebars. I tried not to dwell on it. I tried to be positive and believe that I would be okay come Saturday.

We left Thursday afternoon and made it to the Cleveland area where we stayed in the most disgusting, wretched shit hole I've been in in a long time. I've stayed in some pretty nasty places in my life and this was right up there. Ike wouldn't stop panting and pacing. He's usually a super traveler. I'm sure with his sniffer he knew something I didn't. Like a recent murder had taken place there or a super bug had been created and was waiting on us to be its host and take it to the outside world where it could infect millions. He's deaf now so I'm certain he was worried if he fell asleep he may not hear us leave and he would be left there only to be eaten by the people who ran the dump. One bed smelled like someone had wiped their ass with the comforter. Mike tried to sleep in the truck. That lasted about an hour and he came back in. I was in the fetal positon on the non-ass smelling bed hoping I wouldn't get bed begs or contract some sort of disease. I think I may have shut my eyes for about an hour. We "woke" up and took the hottest showers ever in hopes to eradicate whatever critters were on our body.

Be nice to me and you could be receiving this as a gift

The digs

We made it to MI on Friday. Jane and Alex were kind enough to pick up our packets and give us their take on the course. We went out for a little spin on some sandy roads and snowmobile trails by the cabin. I still didn't feel well. I attributed it to the not sleeping and fear that I had the plague.

Saturday Jane, Alex, Mike, Ike and I woke up at 4 am and did the pre-race routine. We arrived at the venue at 5:30 am. We got ready and got on the bikes. I knew it wasn't going to be good. Some days I feel like if I give it an hour or so I can work through it. I knew that wasn't the case today. I was beyond that point. I felt so exhausted and weak. I thought about not taking the start. Then I thought that I just drove 14 hours and I've been looking forward to this all year. There was a mile roll-out until the singletrack. I knew I was going to pass our feed zone on the way into the woods. I thought about just pulling over at the beginning to end what I knew was going to be a bad trip. I went against my better judgement as usual and followed the train into the woods. I knew I was done about 15 minutes in. I felt hot and sick. I kept going. I was now holding off the tears. A little further I kept telling myself. I'll feel better, right? I kept pedaling and telling myself I could work through it. It never got better. I wanted to cut out early but the marshals told me it was easier just to follow the race course out. I sucked it up and rode the lap.

I got back to the feed zone and everyone near our pit tried to give me a hand thinking I was going out for the second lap. I thanked them and told them I was done. I went to the truck and put my bike away. I started sobbing. I went to the porta-potty. I came out and I was crying uncontrollably. A guy going in said "Oh, shit. Is it that bad?". He made me laugh for a second. I changed and went to the feed zone so I could help everyone coming through. I then started to ball my eyes out again. This time it was a sobbing, sucking wind, shoulder shrugging and heaving crying. It was horrifying. I couldn't stop. It took me about an hour to calm down. I had to focus on the time and when everyone would be coming thorough. I knew it would be Mike, Jane and then Alex. Mike came through and looked at me. He knew. Didn't ask. He stopped for fluids and was taking his sweet damn time. I knew by looking at him he was going through a rough patch and the demons were sneaking in. I told him he was 5 minutes behind Pflug (It was only 3 but I like to lie). He looked defeated and like he was going to sit in the chair next to me for a second. I think I told him something along the lines of "get your head out of your ass and get effing moving. Turn it on." I'm so inspirational and motivating it hurts some times.

I fed the rest of my shell shocked crew. Everyone finished and made it out alive. Jane had an awesome 5th place finish. Mike ended up 2nd.

Monte and Pflug

That night I had sworn off bikes and had decided I was not going to do this anymore. The let downs have become way too much for me to take. I can handle when my bike breaks, when I haven't put in the work and when I'm riding with my head up my ass. I'm still not so good at taking it when my body fails me. This time in particular was especially hard to take. I've dealt with this long enough to know that this is just how it is for me. Day to day. It's still a tough pill to swallow. I'm not sure I'll ever totally be able to accept it.

On Sunday we were smart and got an early start so we did not have to play motel Russian Roulette. I was feeling the disappointment. All I wanted to do was finish the thing. Thoughts of quitting and selling bikes came to me. A couple of hours later I started to think about my friends and the support they have offered me. I started to think about how much I actually enjoy the bike when I feel well. I thought about how far I've come. I can't quit. I then looked at Mike and told him that if I can hold onto the handlebars tomorrow and I feel a little better I am going to do 67 miles. I only did one 33 mile loop on Saturday. I'm going to finish it. I needed to finish it. I was expecting some sort of push back or for him to tell me I was a nut. All I got is "Do it." Okay then. Tomorrow is a new day...


  1. You are such an amazing athlete! I admire how you fight back when your body fights you. You are an inspiration to me. Never, ever quit, after all how would you be able to face the crowd at the Cookie Cabin on Mt. Lemmon when you come out West?

  2. Do NOT give are!