Before I get started on today’s final installment of RAWROD ‘05, I’d like to call attention to a couple of things:
- Parental Boast Alert: My 11-year-old son is showing some real promise in programming. He just finished writing a clever little game called “Cover Your Mouth.” Check it out, and if you think it’s cool, post a comment here. I’ll make sure he sees them. (I’m not giving out his email address or name because the Internet is a creep y place).
- The blog goes on: The end of this story does not equal the end of this blog. In fact, tomorrow I will be starting a weekly post that I’m frankly a little nervous about. I’ll say no more for now, except that you might want to stop by to check this blog out as I ratchet up the public self-humiliation a notch.
And now, back to the story.
Due to Kenny’s craftiness — he wanted to take a group photo before we all took off riding again (I’m the one with man-boobs and a white helmet, seated in the lower left corner, trying to look casual while sucking in my gut and using my arm to shield the camera from the incontravertible evidence) — my plan to take off ahead of everyone was foiled. I was one of the first to head out, but a few other people took off ahead of me.
And, expectedly, many people who were behind me didn’t take long to pass. Knowing there wasn’t much I could do about it, though, I enjoyed the ride — at least, after the first 10 minutes while my butt got used to the saddle again.
In the direction we were riding the White Rim Trail, the first half of the day is pretty hard work. There are several hard climbs, quite a bit of sand (which posed no problem whatsoever this trip, thanks to the way it got packed down with the night’s rain), and very little downhill. That’s why I always look forward to the second part of the day.
You start off with a few climbs and have to navigate a little sand (once again, not a problem on this trip — I have never ever ever seen the White Rim in such rideable condition). And then, gradually, the trail straightens out and becomes gently banked and downhill for miles at a time. The wind is usually at your back, and you’ve got an opportunity to clock some wicked fast miles. Doesn’t even matter that you’re fat (maybe it helps!).
At this sheer-joy section of the trail, I was riding with Mark and Serena Warner (sidenote about the Mark/Serena dynamic: I learned this trip that it’s OK for Serena to ride as far ahead of Mark as she pleases; the reverse is absolutely forbidden), along with Jilene Mecham. Somehow I wound up riding behind Jilene (uh, maybe because she’s faster than I am) and came to an astounding realization, which I am going to put on a separate line and in italics to emphasize my point:
Jilene Mecham picks a beautiful line.
Yep, Jilene was absorbing the right bumps, dodging the ones she should, and just in general making it really easy for me to not make any decisions at all. So I settled in and just tracked her line, noting that the sun was coming out, my legs didn’t feel fried, and the temperature felt like it was in the high 60’s. I thought to myself, “Well, I’d rather be a fat cyclist than just fat.”
Eventually, the downhill ended, Mark flatted, and Jilene and I rode along together for a while — notable because:
- This would be the only time in the 100 miles I rode with someone
- Jilene and I had a fairly serious conversation about how major life crises can change your priorities for the good.
And then Jilene got bored of riding slow and left me in the dust.
More Treachery…and Terror
We were now getting close to the end of riding the White Rim Trail. And as we did, I got more and more nervous. The ride finishes with several switchbacks as you climb up a very tall, steep cliff called Shafer’s. And I just didn’t have much power left. I could easily see myself needing to walk part of that…but I absolutely didn’t want anyone to see me have to get off my bike and walk something I’ve ridden numerous times.
I am unbelievably vain.
So once again I resorted to treachery. I saw that everyone was gathering at Musselman’s Arch. And, once again, I put my head down and kept going. Once again, I was ahead of most everyone, and once again I knew it wouldn’t last.
Shafer’s Trail is always an impressive site — you round a corner and see a massive cliff, evidently unclimbable. As you get closer, you can see sections of a road, hairpinning up the side of this cliff. And then, as you get to the base of the thing, you try to stop looking at the road, because it’s just too damn demoralizing.
I shifted into my granny gear, put my head down and vowed not to get off my bike. As people came down the trail — in cars and on bikes — they gave me encouragement. I kept going, not wanting to let my fans down.
I looked back. People had left Musselman’s Arch and were starting to climb. Some were going to catch me, I was sure of it. All I could do now was try to stay on my bike, keep my dignity.
It didn’t happen.
On one of the switchbacks I just couldn’t turn the crank one more time. So I got off my bike and did the walk of shame. Just one switchback’s worth, then I was back on, but it was definitely a new low for me. It was during that walk that the idea for writing this very blog occurred to me. “SoI’m pathetic. Why not tell the world?” I thought. Well, why not indeed?
Once you’re to the top of Shafer’s you’re on pavement for a few miles, and then you’re done. During this pavement stretch, Serena and Jilene blew by me, evidently on a quest to emasculate me to whatever degree possible. Thanks, ladies!
And then I was at the campsite. I had made it. The fat cyclist had completed RAWROD ‘05.
Consume Mass Quantities
If you’ve never done an endurance event, you’ve never had a truly overwhelming appetite. The thing is, though, I love the massive hunger that overtakes me about two hours after riding 100 miles on a mountain bike. A bunch of us went to Pasta Jays, where I ordered way more food than I could ordinarily eat (big salad, gnocchi with a spicy red cream sauce) and finished it off no problem…then started looking hungrily at the fettucini alfredo the person sitting next to me had not finished.
The next day, on the way home, I would continue to eat constantly. By the time I got home and checked my weight, I had gained 5 pounds over the weekend.
So now, RAWROD’05 is behind me. I’m glad I did it — even as a fat cyclist — but when the Leadville 100 happens this August, I’d just as soon be a tad thinner.