Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Miserable Good Day

Website still in transition.....

This weekend I took Sunday off from church and rode in the Pasagshak to Kodiak bike race which is held during Crabfest. Crabfest is held during four days of rain each year over Memorial Day weekend. So we drove out to Pasagshak early Sunday morning - in the rain. It was about 40 degrees and the windchill made it seem like around 35. Marcia drove the truck while our son Mark and I rode bikes and grandson Gavin helped out with support duties. At Pasagshak which is about 40 miles from Kodiak probably about two dozen bikers had gathered. Spirits were high as bikes of all kinds and riding gear that ran the gamut of hunting camo to t-shirt and shorts! (this was not just a little bit nuts) and even a couple who looked the part of real bike racers. I wore several layers, the point being to try to keep warm since keeping dry was going to be impossible. Mark had not gotten on a bike since last summer but he is a college athlete and in good shape. I had done some spinning over the winter and had been out on my bike for a few 20 mile rides this spring. I also work out regularly. So, I figured we could do this. It's only 40 miles, right. How hard can that be? Surprising how someone who has done these kinds of things before so easily forgets how hard it can be. Mark and I started out at a quick pace drafting to cut into the headwind. We picked up a few solo stragglers over the first 10 miles. I was quite pleased to see we even formed a paceline between Pasagshak and the first really big hill at Kalsin Bay. When I hit the hill, I realized I had already depleted most of my energy resources. The thick pancakes I had for breakfast were gone. I munched on another energy bar as I got to the top of the hill. Mark was waiting for me but he was pretty wasted, too. Needless to say, our paceline broke up and those stragglers we had carried over the last 10 miles never looked back. The rest of the ride was an endurance race. What started out as a race had become a ride, and not a very pleasant one. The hills are endless out there. The wind was in our face the whole way. Rain fell but we didn't even notice. It was impossible to be any more miserable. I had entertained a thought while we were in the paceline that we could do this all the way to Kodiak. I saw myself coming in with the front group of racers, congratulating myself for being in such good shape for an old guy. I am ashamed to say that at my age I still cannot see through my self-deceptions. It is a temptation I guess I need to keep working on. On the bright side, when we crested Marine Hill neither one of us realized that is what we had been climbing. We thought it was just another hill and the dreaded Marine Hill still loomed in the distance. As we raced down the hill we raised arms triumphantly like they do in the Tour De France. I yelled out something dumb about it being all a piece of cake from that point on. Some cake. Some piece. It was more like trying to choke down the whole thing. The first couple bites are good but then you wonder what got into you to try to eat the whole thing. The 12 miles from Bells Flats are flat enough but the wind is always the worst from there to town. I don't know why that is. On a perfectly calm day if you ride out to Bells Flats when you return home you are going to be fighting a stiff headwind. After 2 1/2 hours of riding you are cursing the wind. Mark's lack of riding is really showing up at this point and he tells me to go ahead, that he is just trying to make it home. I decide to stick it out with him. It's not like I have anything in reserve either and we can help each other out. That is, until Margaret pulls up behind us. This is our friend Margaret who is closer to my age than Mark's and we had to talk her into riding because she said "she had done nothing to prepare for this". So we tell her to join us and we would ride together. Her competitive juices flowing however, she leaves us in the dust. About halfway to Kodiak, I catch sight of her and I lose my fatherly instincts. I leave my son and go into attack mode to catch Margaret. I get on her back wheel just before town. I want to pass her but I tell myself I don't really need to do that. It doesn't matter, I argue with myself. Besides, if I try to pass her, she will just pass me again and how will that feel? So she finishes right before me. I have the luxury of thinking I let her do that. It is a bit after 3 hours since we started. Mark comes in a few minutes later. Comparing notes later over tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches, we agreed our legs hurt more than they have in recent memory. We spent the next hour or so napping on the couch.

The Pasagshak to Kodiak Bike Race is a challenging ride. It's 40 miles of hills and since it is during Crabfest, it is always rainy and cold, too. These elements combined make for a miserable day. I told Marcia I didn't think I would ever do it again. It was crazy. Unnecessary. I have nothing to prove. But, the next day Mark and I were saying we didn't feel too bad and that we were glad we had done it together. I am sure when next Crabfest comes around we will have completely forgotten how miserable we were.

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