I have been out training, and racing, lately. My life has just been pretty hectic. I actually crashed the first weekend of March and managed to slice my knee open and a rock shaped like a razor blade (Mental note: watch out for those rocks in the future). So, 2 weeks a 5 staples and 3 stitches in my knee and another week and a half of rehab and I was back on the bike, just in time for the Vision Quest. I wrote a little recap on STR about the race:
I didn’t line up near the front due to the lack of confidence in my riding ability that day. I crashed the first weekend in March and had my knee stapled up, so that got me off the bike for 3 weeks. So, about a week of training leading up to the event made my nervous. I sat in with a group that pushed (and pulled) me up Blackstar. Some girl passed me and I jumped on her wheel for motivation to bridge up to another group. I did this 2 or 3 times and made it to the gate in about 48 minutes.
Once on the main divide, I chased a few guys down and found myself behind a road block of about 4 guys. I snuck around the outside on that steep, rocky part just before you get a small descending break and put some time on them, but the fog and my lack of familiarity with the main divide allowed them to catch me before the either/or section. I thought the fireroad went straight, but the 3 guys behind me made a right turn on a bypass route and gained a good amount of time. I didn’t catch them again until maple springs, but I saw them down the hill on motorway and conservatively made my way down trying my best to stay in control and not crash for fear of my not-so-healed knee sustaining more damage.
A quick refill at Aid #1 and I was off climbing again. I thought I’d hold about 220 watts on the climbs based on my limited training rides before the event, but the adrenaline of the event had my riding between 250-270 up Blackstar. I tried to continue the trend on maple springs and settled into a comfortable cadence, putting out around 250 watts. About .5 miles from 4 corners, I started to feel cramps coming on, so I slowed my pace to get some food in my stomach. The cramps never really went away, but I was able to keep them at bay as I started the last push up to the peak. I made it to the peak in around 3:28 if I remember correctly and started the terrifying descent.
My sight through my glasses was blurry. The mist covered lenses seemed to attrack more than enough dirt to build the anaheim supercross track. I tried to wipe them, but it didn’t do much. So, I hung on for dear life and kept my speeds down to try an avoid any crashes. My front fork wasn’t set-up correctly and was acting like it was locked out the entire descent, rattling my hands into numbness. Upper holy jim was a nice break from the rough rocky main divide. My lack of confidence and fear of crashing led me to walking a few sections, but I eventually made it back to the main divide safely and was on lower holy jim in no time. I forgot to put the bell on, so I yelled out, “ring ring” the entire way down. The hikers parted ways for me, but I slowed down to pass safely. I ran through the stream crossings to keep my chain/wheel bearings happy. After the last one, I got to recover and have lunch on my way to aid #2.
Another quick refil and I was off to the dreaded hike that just happens to occur in the middle of a bike “race.” I was told about 30 guys had headed off, up Trabuco road, from aid #2 from a WS member and I heard 20 something guys had departed from a spectator. Didn’t know who to believe, but for my lack of descending confidence and lack of training the month before the race, that news left me in a great mood. I kept riding as strong as I could (dropped to around 220 watts by now) and passed a handful of guys before the hike.
West Horsethief was different this time. I managed to ride about 25% of it and possibly could have ridden more, but I caught a couple of guys hiking together and decided to join in on the fun. Aparrently, as the two young adults have shown us, the hills out here can be very tricky. So, I figured it safest to have a couple hiking partners so that we’d hopefully have a lower chance of getting lost. We crested them summit and all took off, trying to not let the others beat us.
We eventaully all made it to Trabuco and set off on our on pace downhill. My fork was still throwing a tantrum, so I took it easy. My hands, again, lost all feeling and stiffened up. I safely made it down the shale covered trail and got past all riders embarking on the last climb of the journey safely. I looked down and saw my time was 5:52 as I hopped the gate. I foolishly thought I could get down the fireroad in 8 minutes. Boy, was I wrong!
All-in-all, I was very pleased with my time. I beat my time from last year (I was a DNS due to injury, not because I wanted to, but because I had to) and beat my time from two years ago by 22 minutes. I finished a few places higher in the standings and had one of the most memorable days on the bike. I’m still walking around on a high, waiting for registration to open in October so I can sign-up for more punishment chasing the elusive 6 hour mark once again.
After the Vision Quest, I had high hopes of a great race at the end of the month at the Whiskey Off-Road. Shortly after the Vision Quest, though, my dog got sick. We didn’t think it was a big deal, initially. Yet, she kept getting worse. She was very lethargic and didn’t want to play, which was very uncharacteristic of her. We took her back to the vet, where they did a blood test and found that she was very anemic. Her WBC count was also very high. We started her on some meds, but she never seemed to get better. She got really bad one Sunday night, so we rushed her to the 24 hour emergency vet. They gave her a blood transfusion. This seemed to help out my dog for a bit, but another 24 hours later and she was drifting off again.
After a rough night of watching her drift in and out of consciousness, being barely able to walk out to go to the bathroom, we decided it was time to put her down. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. She was only 4 years old and probably the best dog I will have ever had. And to think, I rescued her from the San Bernardino mud run back in 2009. I still remember that day. Everyone wanted her, but nobody rescued her, for fear of her growing to big. If only they would have known.
It is still strange, not having Annie around. I miss the sound of her tail, wagging furiously against the cage when I get home. I miss her waiting for me by the door when she would hear the garage open. I miss her laying down, sleeping with me on the sofa.
Goodbye Annie, we miss you, but probably not as much as you miss us.