All week I had focused on the impending cold weather that was to peak just in time for the Snake finale. I haven’t been doing a lot of rides outdoors like last year and so I knew I wasn’t really used to riding in the 20 degree weather. I know I drive my biking friends crazy with constant questions about what to wear and what to drink. Forgive me. I am just not wanting to finish knowing I made a huge error, but this is how I learn… making mistakes and taking notes. This time with Zack’s help and the Taco Mamacita Hincapie lecture earlier, I may have a handle on it.
I screwed up some of the timing of my training leading up to the race because I have started running and maybe it played into the day as well. Can I please have a time machine to take me back to when the Chattanooga Half Ironman opened and NOT sign up? I still haven’t started swimming again since May last year and have no desire right now. Even with the TT bike Jeff had built up for me, I am just ambivalent. Maybe it’s the fatigue from the Snake. I don’t know. I don’t want to train to run or swim right now. I only have 3 months to go for that pain. I digress.
I arrived at Dry Creek cold as I knew I’d be and was thankful I had spent the time the day before preparing everything. All I had to do was put my shoes on, put my helmet on and go to the bathroom a couple of times. Oh, and pay the $5 fee to park.
I checked out what others were wearing. I looked comparable. Maybe. There were a few tough guys wearing shorts. I wonder if they are actually human.
I keep checking the time and things are going well.
Finally, it’s time to take off and had a few last minute adjustments with my layering and hand warmers in my gloves. The Hincapie balaclava was a superb choice I could tell. I opted to carry 2 L Infinit mix plus 1 bottle on the bike of the same. I also carried 3 oz of pickle juice, a Honey Stinger Waffle and a couple of gels.
I was off.
I did not feel strong but lethargic. The cold was real, and I had been out there the week before with Christine and knew the pain ahead. I wanted that feeling of January where I felt fresh, but the cold was interfering with my breathing. My legs felt the sting past the portable bridge and I set my mind on concentrating on my playlist and making time to beat my January time. Then, well, I learned that iPod shuffle means just that. My music wasn’t in order. It made me laugh. Shuffle, after all. I made it to the top of the first real climb (John’s Mountain) and did my version of bombing down which is slower than I would like and continued on to Snake Creek Gap. Here is a write-up of the first part along with a map. I made it to Snake Creek Gap around the 1:56 mark and knew I was behind. My plan was to not stop and so I continued into the climb out of Snake Creek Gap feeling the burn.
I descended down into the valley prior to Stover’s Gap and crossed the three creeks and noticed my derailleur started acting weird and I couldn’t pedal. I was almost to Stover’s Gap and had to stop and try to unfreeze my drivetrain. Mine was more about the design of my power meter with leaves and debris mixed with freezing water.
The Wall was brutal this time.
Once I got it going, I could tell my legs were not in it like before. I ate a frozen Honey Stinger waffle. I kept spinning and moving but ended up finishing 7 minutes slower which gave me a 3rd place finish in the Women 30 and older category. I’m glad I was able to get a Scott’s jersey up on the podium! Noel finished 2nd in the 17 miler and Christine ended up 1st in the 17 miler. There are some strong ladies racing, but I would love to see more women entering races!
The Snake is the hardest thing I have ever done in mountain biking and I can’t wait for next year. One of these days, I hope to do a sub-4 hour 34-miler for this race. I have a lot of work to do to get there. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to ride for Scott’s and that we had no precipitation on either race this year.