A Note from The Hammer About the WBR Gooseberry Yurt Fundraiser: A huge thanks to everyone who donated to WBR as part of The Hammer’s Weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt fundraiser. It raised more than $14,000! We’re now trying to figure out how to download all the donation info, after which we’ll choose and contact the winner. Stay tuned, and (if you donated) watch your email account!
A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 5 of my 6 Hours in Frog Hollow writeup. If you haven’t read the earlier parts, you probably should. You know, for context or in case there’s a quiz at the end or something. Here are links: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.
I had been out on the course for two laps, and I had two questions, which I consider a very strange coincidence. My questions were as follows:
- Since I was starting lap 3 ahead (only by a couple of seconds, but I am happy to take whatever I can get) of Mike from Boise, would I be able to put enough time into him during the climb to stay ahead of him during the descent?
- Was I going to be able to stay under the magical one-hour / lap average necessary for me to do a sixth lap?
My answer to the first question was, “I’m sure going to try.” My answer to the second question was, “It doesn’t look good.” You see, I had finished the first lap in just under 59 minutes; I had finished the second lap in a few seconds less than an hour. It seemed unlikely that I would be able to hold my pace for another three laps.
So now I was looking at — probably — having only three more laps to stay ahead of Mike.
Was that a good thing? I suspected not. As an endurance guy with strength in climbing and weakness in descending, I figured I’d put more and more time into Mike with each climb, until — hopefully — my lead would be too great for him to catch me on the descent.
Shortest Lap Recap Ever
Because some of you are my age and therefore have short-term memory issues, let me remind you what happened in my second lap of this race:
- I did the climb faster than Mike, finishing well ahead of him.
- I did 3/4 of the descent with Mike nowhere in sight.
- Mike caught and passed me just before the final section of singletrack.
- I caught up to Mike at the climb to the timing tent at the end of the lap and we went through together.
I remind you of this, because the exact same thing happened in the third lap. Right down to Mike giving me a pleasant greeting as he passed me (“I love this course!” or “That was a fun lap!”) and us finishing the lap together.
Though — in the interest of full disclosure — the official timing for the race shows Mike as having done the third lap one second faster than I did.
But I think you get the point: Mike and I were about as close to perfect foils for each other as there could possibly be.
It made, frankly, for about the most awesome race experience I’ve ever had.
Lap 4: The One That Matters
At the start of every lap, I convince myself that it’s the most important lap of the race. For the fourth lap, I thought, “This is my big chance to finish ahead of Mike. If I can do that — so he doesn’t see me at all during this lap — I’ll have a psychological advantage over him on the fifth lap; he won’t know where I am and I’ll stop being such an obvious carrot to him.”
It did not quite work out that way.
Well, actually it did work out that way, but kind of in reverse.
To wit, Mike caught me sooner in the descent than he had in the previous three laps, giving him enough time to fully and thoroughly drop me during the rest of the descent.
And in short, by the time I finished the fourth lap, I had no idea how long ago Mike had passed through the timing tent. Two minutes ago? Three? Five? I just didn’t know.
Which meant that, unfortunately (for me, not Mike), I was going to have to go absolutely, positively all out to catch Mike on the climb, then hope I could hold on to him during the descent and — maybe — beat him in an uphill sprint to the finish line.
So when I passed our crew tent and Melisa asked me what I wanted, I just grabbed a piece of sandwich, one last bottle of Carborocket, and a Coke to go.
I had a racer to catch, in this fifth lap. The lap that would — for really and for truly — matter.
Which is where we’ll pick up in the next (and, I swear, final) installment of this race writeup.
PS: This final installment will come out this Monday (not tomorrow or during the weekend). Also, it’s pretty freaking dramatic.