The Berryman Epic, hmmm, well it went badly.
The course was fine, in fact the course was (or should have been) fast and really (but for me it wasn’t) fun. I believe every bit of what caused me to have a rough day was lack of eating and not being smart enough to eat more. I have been thinking back to the race for awhile, mostly due to the freaking awful time I had there and have pinpointed my first and really only mistake. It was skipping the third aid station.
The race started on a 5 mile or so section of gravel road, which was dusty as all get out, onto some pretty fast and skinny single track. A few roots and rocks made the trail interesting but definitely not hard. It was looking like a course that I had expected, and it was early yet, I wasn’t happy because I knew we had a very long day, but I was hopeful.
We then turned onto the Berryman Trail proper from the Ozark trail and I was really pleased. It is the section one of my friends calls Shredtopia. It is a bit of trail that requires so little effort to go fast that it is almost like cheating, except for the day of the race. It was a 4 or 5 mile section of intervals because people where having problems with the trail. Not to throw stones, but if they couldn’t ride the trails we were on, maybe they should just stick to the roads….. Yeah, I was just a bit irritated. It seemed like every 30 seconds someone would flat and just stop in the middle of the trail making everyone behind he or she stop to avoid hitting them.
Well, it was on the next section of the Berryman before Brazil Creek where I stopped to help the first person a had with a flat. This man had either forgotten or had a failure of his chosen method of inflating his tires. So I stopped and gave him a CO2 cartridge so he could keep going. It didn’t cost me much time, but it did cause me to have to settle into another group of riders who seemed incapable of riding the trail.
On the last section of trail down to the creek I past a young man and asked him if he was okay and he replied with an very loud and frantic NO. So I stopped and looked to see what his problem was and it was pretty easy to see. He flatted and had never changed a tire before. So what do I do? I stop and try to show him how it is done. You first have to break the bead…. you know get the tire loose on the rim…. and on and on….. but I pulled his tire off and helped him get started with the tire change and off again into a group of riders doing interval training. Ack, why to I help.
I crosse the creek at about 10 or 11 miles and began the climb and immediately felt like I should eat, but what did I do? Me, I decided that I should save my food for later when i REALLY bonked. Umm, yeah smart choice. so I made it somewhere around 15 miles thinking I should eat and finally did. Well better late than never, but it was already too late. I was not going to catch up on the calories that I needed. As I ate I came across another fellow with a flat and he needed a tube, so I gave him mine. I was hoping I wouldn’t need it, and was pretty sure I wouldn’t because I added about 5 PSI more in my tires than normal because I would rather bounce a bit more than flat four or five times.
So I cruised into aid 2 at 20ish miles and promptly rode right on through, I didn’t stop or slow much I just rolled on through, big mistake. I was still feeling hungry and had a bottle and a half but had not eaten or drunk nearly enough. I was also still thinking I should save the water and food until I was really hungry….. yeah still thinking that and still beginning the big bonk. As I left the aid 2, well about 4 miles in I came across yet another mechanical problem and stopped to help. The guy had gotten his chain stuck between his spokes and cassette, so he was not going anywhere fast. I looked and realized very quickly that it needed a bit of a tug and a little pressure on the spokes to get the chain free, and it took me about a couple minutes to figure this out and off he went. I thought at the time, if I can’t help fix your bike, you can’t beat me in, so I need to stop and help. It was about five minutes later I exploded.
The lack of eating and lack of drinking had caught up with me and what was I still thinking? You guessed it, I better save my food and water until I really need it. So I kept riding, and the trails were easy. Gradually graded up and very easy single track and what was I doing? Walking. Why? Because I needed to save my food and water until I REALLY bonked.
I must admit the next couple of hours really sucked. I walked and walked until I finally ate some food. But it was too late. I had gone past the point of return. When I came into aid 3, I had planned on eating some food, but it was the only unsupported aid station of the race. What kind of luck is that. I want to eat and drink and need the food and water badly and the only place I really need food and water it is not there for me. Ack. So suck it up and drive on.
To be honest, I was around 25-30 miles in and really thinking about quitting. But…. I didn’t.
So what was the last 20 miles like? Well I don’t really remember. It was me being really unhappy and me suffering more than ever and me wishing for a coke and me walking up trails that I have always ridden. I did stop at aid 4, and tried to eat, but my stomach was in such a state that I couldn’t really eat as much as I needed. But I choked down some food and drank a bit of water.
I just kept suffering, kept my head down and got passed by people who kept asking if I was okay. Well I was not, but unless they had a coke and about 10,000 calories to give me they couldn’t help. At least they asked. And then I came back to the gravel road and finished. I have never been more disappointed in myself at any race ever. I made the easiest mistake there is to correct, eating and drinking on time and when my body asks. Next year will I go back? I don’t know, really it was fun for about 2 and a half hours, but then I nearly died. It was my own fault but you know….. It is never (really) my fault. Or in this case all my fault.