The short version:
I thought I was ready and I was really looking forward to this. But, my back & shoulders started hurting at about mile 30, and over time my neck and legs joined in, and then my head started pounding. By the time I reached Moskovite Corners at mile 45 I decided there was no way I could gut this one out, and I wanted off my bike NOW. So, I bailed. I'm beginning to think I don't have the kind of tenacity one needs to do these long rides.
The long version:
As expected, pretty much everyone flew out at at least 20 mph (and that was the back of the pack, LOL). I felt fine and stayed up with Veronica and we chatted for a few miles but then I gradually started to creep back. I told her not to wait for me, we'd do our own rides, so that was fine.
I was eventually on my own but tooling happily at a very good pace for me (~16) when I got to the long flat boring hinterlands. Turned a corner and was in a bit of a headwind - nothing awful, but enough. A tandem which must have left late passed by me and I could have kicked myself for not latching on - I very well could have, I just wasn't thinking about it until they were too far ahead to make it worth the effort. duh.
Not too long after that a man & two women passed me. They weren't going all that much faster than me so I asked if I could latch on and they said fine. I never fully appreciated the Joys of Drafting until just then. Heaven!!! The man, who was leading our paceline, never moved over so I just happily hung off the back, never having to take a pull. Whee.
They pulled over just before that freeway overpass (it's the one bump in the road for miles) to shed jackets and I wasn't inclined to stop so I continued on, thanking them profusely and assuming I'd see them again in a few miles. It was just me & the breeze again.
Eventually an older man caught up with me (our group had passed him a bit earlier) and since the wind was starting to wear on me some I asked if I could draft off him and he said fine. After we turned onto Putah Creek Rd I pulled up abreast of him and we chatted a bit - he had started biking again after a brief hiatus but he did lots of dcs some years back. In '91 he rode 9 doubles. Jeeze. Then he mentioned he just turned 70. Double jeeze.
I couldn't quite keep up with him so I let him go on ahead about when we were passing Winters. By then I was already starting to get tired & a bit achey (at mile 22, good grief!!) and I was wondering how on earth I was going to slog this out. I was feeling kind of down because even though I was going at a good pace for me, about 99% of the field was already way ahead and probably in the next freakin' county by then. Lots of negative thoughts were bouncing around in my head. At that point I was wishing I was with someone - it would have been great if my three new best friends materialized again, but no sign of them yet.
Then I saw Lee parked along the side of the road so I pulled over to chat with him. He said V's group was only about 10 minutes ahead which cheered me up some, and it was nice to just stop & stretch a little. I told him I wasn't feeling too great and he asked if I wanted him to drive ahead and wait for me up at Moskovite, and I hemmed & hawed and said no, go play (he brought his bike along and was waiting for it to warm up a little before going off on his own ride).
That little stop cheered me up and gave me a second wind so the rest of the way along Putah Creek went fine. It also helped a lot that there wasn't much breeze at that point, and even a small bit of tailwind. The way the wind was blowing made for hopes of a tailwind most of the way back, which was really encouraging.
But then when I reached Rt. 128 I started to get really achey, and Advil didn't really help. This was even before the climb up to the dam. I'm one of those lucky ones who almost never gets a sore back & shoulders while riding - I mean, my back can get a bit stiff after a long ride, but never particularly sore. And certainly not after only about 30 miles! But my lower back and especially between my shoulders was getting really sore, which had never happened to me before. And naturally it got worse as I climbed up the dam & then cardiac. I geared really low and spun easliy up those climbs hoping it would go away, but notsomuch.
Near the top of the dam I caught up with the older guy, who had mentioned to me earlier he wasn't looking forward to the hills. He was having a bit of a rough time and had to stop for lots of short rests. We took a breather together at the top of the dam and he started down a bit ahead of me and was off like a shot, gravity was indeed his friend. But I caught up with him again on the slog up cardiac. We might have been leapfrogging like that the whole rest of the ride.
But then my head started pounding and joined in the pain party with my back, shoulders, neck and legs, and by the time I got over cardiac I was thinking this just wasn't going to happen today. Even the rollers into Moscovite were no fun at all, so I pulled into Moscovite and called it a day.
I called Lee and he had already gone out on his own ride by then, but he said he'd head back to the car & pick me up eventually. I told him I was fine & to take his time. One of my New Best Friends showed up soon after, she was waiting for the other two. Seems they did a lot of stops which is why they were so far behind.
Turns out the store & restaurant at Moscovite were closed since Jan for renovations. The sign said they'd reopen in Feb. Ooops. No bathrooms. I was doing OK in that regard but my friend had stopped there specifically for one so she wasn't too thrilled. None at the gas station across the road either. I think maybe she found some bushes. Her other two companions finally showed up and they were on their way. I'm not sure if they were the last ones the route, I wasn't paying much attention.
Lee Mitchell soon pulled into the lot and I gave him my brevet card and asked him to make sure to tell the control folks at Pope Valley that I was out. I also called Thom to let him know that I was bailing - he was going to meet up with V and ride back with her. For some reason I thought he was meeting her at Pope Valley but in retrospect I realized that was wrong so I hope she didn't end up waiting for me there! Hopefully she saw I had dnf'd.
I found a nice sunny spot at the side of the building and laid back on some wood decking, which actually felt pretty good, and just sort of watched the world go by and dozed. Didn't suck, all in all. Lee showed up after a couple of hours and that was that. By then the speedy folks had already passed heading back - I wouldn't be surprised if some of them reached Pope Valley before the control opened. :p
I slept a good part of the drive back home, and for at least another 3 hours once we got back. I then slept for about 11 hours straight last night and I'm still awfully creaky today - I think I'm coming down with something.
I'm so bummed because I thought I was ready for this!!! But I was feeling so crummy I knew I couldn't slog it out - some people have that kind of tenacity but I sure don't. I hate bailing out on things and I had promised myself I wouldn't do that this year. Gahh.
Another Year, and More Time to Reflect
1 week ago