2010 Tour de Cure … The Century, pt. 2

Previously on SnydeRemarks: Tour de Cure 2010 …

“Hey, I’ve been looking for that belt.”

“100 miles on a mountain bike … dude.”

I smile for the photographer.

It would be the last time I would smile during the 2010 Tour de Cure.

I turn the corner and see several riders stopped in their tracks at the side of the Devil’s Gulch Road.

They are standing there gawking at a giant wall in the road.

Now the continuing adventures of SnydeRemarks: Tour de Cure 2010

I stop next to this woman I’ve befriended on the ride. Six weeks ago she biked from Longmont to Fargo, riding 100 miles a day for nine days. We look up at the road ahead and it appears to go straight up. There is a guy – I don’t know who he is or why he is there – but he is just laughing his ass off at all of us. He has a car.

As with most big hills, once you get on the hill you noticed little undulations. I think to myself, “Just take it one segment at a time. Try to find little flat spots to rest.”

That attempt at positive thinking sort of worked. I made it to the top of that first bit. Although the last few pedals felt like I was sitting in the weight room at the Y pushing a ton of plates up on the leg press. As I approach the first switchback, the girl in the blue jersey has gotten off her bike to walk … the woman who did a century-a-day for nine days. I’m a very logical person and as soon as I saw that I thought, “That makes total sense.” I got off my bike and walked the infamous four switchbacks. While I was walking faster than most of the cyclists still on their bikes, my hamstrings were tightening and my back was hurting.

On the last stretch of up, I looked skyward and saw Rosemary and heard her cheering me on.

At last on top of the highest part of the course, I handed Rose my bike. Riders are sprawled all over the dirt at this lookout spot with Rocky Mountain National Park in the background.

Rose is trying to position me for a photo. I’m having trouble catching my breath; a little shortness of breath that doesn’t last long. I tell Rose, “I’m seeing spots before my eyes.”

But I’ve got many miles to ride before I can sleep today. I’m halfway done. The glass is half-full, but it is half-full of floaty spots. Not good.

I shake off the ill effects of the long climb and steep ascent and tell Rose, “I gotta get going.”

(Later, the emergency medical guy will say that I “blew off” obvious warning signs, but I bet he’s never completed a century.)

Before I head downhill, a word about my bike. It wasn’t shifting properly all day. And I discovered early on that my speedometer was off by about 10 percent, which means my last training ride was not 80 miles long, but rather 72 miles, so my century will be my longest ride by 28 miles. I won’t say that that fact wore on my mind, but it didn’t do anything to boost my confidence.

(And I found out later that the course is actually 106 miles.)

Mountain bikes are not built for 23-mile descents on highways with cars and shadows and gravel, tight turns, potholes and guardrails. Your position on the bike is more upright than on a road bike and, as a result, the muscles behind my neck (the trapezius) and my hands were killing me.

Nevertheless, I knew I was done with the hard climbing, so I was happy and was already writing my Facebook status in my mind. I was going to write: “I think Becca put it best … me riding my first century on a mountain bike is a “measure of my badassness.”

When I got to the next aid station, I got off the bike, sat down on the only aid station chair I saw that day, and ate a plum. I looked at a map and it said I had 33 miles to go. I knew that I was in for a tough go of it. I filled up my water bottles: one with water, one with Gatorade. I wasn’t drinking enough Gatorade; it upsets my stomach. So even though I knew I needed to drink it, I didn’t drink enough.

I try to text Rose. No phone service in the canyon. The great group atmosphere that existed on the up had disappeared on the down. It had become ‘every man for himself.’ At least that’s what it felt like for me.

I kept projecting my finishing time and that didn’t help. My speedometer was a sick joke; I knew the mileage was wrong, but then I started checking it every tenth of a mile.

The last 25 miles provided no shelter or shade from the heat. My neck was killing me. I would look all the way left and then all the way to the right. I’d ride looking straight down at the payment, which most cycling experts would call “unsafe.” I wasn’t drinking enough and I passed by a couple rest stops, thinking ‘I gotta get going.’

I was ‘crazy from the heat,’ I believe those were the doctor’s exact words. I didn’t stick to my hydration plan, which would have been easier to do if I, in fact, had a hydration plan.

I passed an aid station only to stop two blocks later. I was in pain and I tried to stretch my neck muscles as I bent over my handlebars. A man on a bike rides up to me; I’m standing at the end of his driveway.

“You okay.”

“Um, not really.”

I’m having trouble standing.

Just then a race official on a motorcycle pulls up. I can’t see his face because of his helmet and he reminds me of the T-1000 cyborg from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I am light-headed and fearful that I’m about to black out when he asks me, “Are you okay?”

I replied, “I can’t see nothing, you’re going to have open my eye.”

“Excuse me?”

“Cut me Mick.”

Okay, I didn’t say that, but it sure would have been cool if I had. No, instead I answered his questions like a convict on the lamb. Not one truthful answer.

He asked if I was okay. I said, “I’m fine.” He asked if I had enough water, if I needed something to eat. I said, “No, I’m good.” Finally, he asked me if I wanted a ride in. As he was asking me that question, I looked up to the heavens and closed my eyes. For a split second I debated whether or not I should reach out and grab him, because I thought I was going to go down.

I said, “Nope, I’m going to finish.”

“Cause all I wanna do is go the distance … and if I can go that distance and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”

Then the T-1000 pulled away and left me with 12 miles to go.

To be continued.

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