My goal for this race was to have the write up titled “No Excuses”. My first few races of this year have been plagued with bad health, mud and the return of big time cramping problems. When I did the Lemuariam last year, I had a nasty crash in the beginning of the race, and that caused mechanical issues for the rest of the race. Here is a pic from last years finish. Notice the tear marks
So my plan was to be healthy, have no crashes and no mechanical issues this year. Given these lofty objective I thought I had a good chance of winning my age group. As long as none of the fast guys showed up :}
As the race approached I knew my first objective of staying healthy was not going to happen. The bug has been swarming my house and hit Ms Merlin bad. I was able to fight off the worst of it , but did not feel anything close to 100%.
This course is a little over 25 miles long with over 4k of climbing. But if felt more like 8k of climbing because the climbs are SO steep and they never end!
The race started with everyone doing the long course going off together.
Once we hit the first steep climb, my legs already felt heavy. I knew I was not 100% but my plan was not to go too hard because this was a very long hard race and this was the first of MANY climbs.
After the first climb we went down a fire road, that had lots of loose rocks and gravel, this is where I had my first crash last year, so I took it easy. 2 guys flew by me like I was standing still, and a minute later when I came around a turn one of them was down and crashed real bad. I heard later that he went to the hospital. Next we were on some flat single-track, then another climb, and then some more flat single-track. This is the spot where I had crash #2 last year and damaged my shifting, so I went hard but careful. Then some more downhill singletrack,
When I approached the 2nd climb I could not help but think back to how much pain I was in last year compared to this year, especially my lower back, all that Yoga has really paid off! I knew this climb was long…and got real steep at the end so I did my best to hold a good pace but not blow up. About ½ way up my legs felt bad, really bad, and I knew I had to back off or I was going to blow up, cramp up or both! After a while we hit a section that was so steep that everyone in front of me was walking up the trail. This was when the first twinge of a cramping hit, as I pushed the bike up the steep hill with the sun beating down on me. The trail leveled off a bit and I thought this must be the top. NO WAY, more climbing, and more climbing, I was really starting to loose it, just praying for the top so I could “ rest” on the down hill. I climbed some more and finally it was flat, for like 30 seconds! Then MORE CLIMBING…till finally the steep technical downhill started. I’m pretty sure this section is called the couch and it is a blast! Real steep and rutted out but very rideable. After this awesome descent I was SO ready to just glide downhill and finish, but no, after a getting off the bike to go through a stream there was another climb. It was at this moment that my legs cramped up, all I could do was walk the bike up the fire road till the cramp subsided. I thought I was going to make it with out cramping this time, but no such luck. I finally got back on the bike and cruised down some more single track and was SOOO ready to be done. I came out on a road and they told me “just another short climb”...dam it! I tried to spin easy up the road, but the cramping hit again big time. I knew I was just minutes to the finish and I could not turn the pedals over it hurt so bad. Finally I could get back on the bike and every pedal stroke caused excruciating pain, I was screaming as I pedaled, the spectators must have thought I was crazy. Finally a downhill that was paved, I just held my pedals level till the last 100 yard climb. I knew the only way to make it up was standing so I locked out the front fork, stood up crested the hill, and glided to the finish line, completely shelled and in pain. As I crossed the line I heard “ way to go Merlin” Thanks Ron! They took my number and asked me to move for the next rider, so I asked for a push so I could glide to the car.
I went and rinsed off in the lake and my teammate came buy with the news that he won his class 35-39 and I won my class 45-54! My teammate Chuck and I posing for a pic for the local paper
Dang, I was surprised! I lost a good 5-10 minutes out there! Merlin getting the bling from the Lemurian Guy
Sure it felt great to win, but it really bothers that after trying everything, I can’t solve my cramping issues. So, I drowned my sorrows in an after race Burrito that they provided at the race
Then on the drive home In & Out Burger!
I'm off to N.Y. for a fraternity reunion and a week of rest!
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