All I see is pain!
I hit Aid 3 feeling just a bit better, but they had Coke and I saw a rider looking so dejected that I was sure she had quit. She had, but it wasn’t her fault, her bike was broken, but it was her look of dejection that forced me to leave without so much as another thought of stopping.
Well walking was going to be something that I knew was going to be required, and knowing that I was prepared for the massively long climb out of Aid 3, but I am not sure what happened, Coke or I was just beginning to feel better, the climb was not so bad. I did hop off and walk for just a minute, but the thought came, why keep anything in reserve? Lets ride everything we can, the day is shot and I am not going to finish any better than last year. My first half of the race had been so bad…
Last good picture of the ride, and yes I looked much worse earlier!
I just rode until I just couldn’t keep the pedals turning over and to be honest, I really didn’t walk all that much. It seemed as if the trails had flattened out a bit and that even when I had to walk, my heart seemed to slow down as it is supposed to do when I was not killing myself turning over the pedals. My legs also seemed to just wake up and realized that after Aid 4 it was (nearly) all downhill! So I rode and kind of jogged and rode and kind of loped along until the descent into Aid 4.
Look into the distance and you should see a rider. I passed him on a descent!
To be honest I descend like a little girl afraid of her own shadow, well that isn’t fair, she would descend faster than me most days, but I had people I had been chasing all day and I could actually feel that I was making time on them. So I just let my brakes go and went for it…. Well as much I felt confident of, at least.
Last year I was cursing the descent into Aid 4, and then the descent to the end of the race, but this day I was wishing for more of descent. I finally felt like everything was working and I was finally passing folks. Mind you, for a better than 45th place, not first or second, but still, small victories. The run into Aid 4 is a bit treacherous and has one very bad corner. I thought I could ride it today, and likely could have, but in a moment of realization, I am not an ace downhiller, I am, at best, competent. So I hopped off the bike walked the crazy corner and jumped over the creek and back onto the bike. Then I saw Aid 4
Aid 4 was a great sight. I still have no idea how long it is to the end of the race, but I knew after this there was more downhill than climbing. I talked with the guys at the Aid station and joked for a minute and had three guys just ride through the Aid Station without stopping. It was at this point I knew (and I am normally this person) I had victims to pass, I had rabbits to chase and I was positive I could and would catch them. So off I went.
So I picked them off one at a time up the next climb, and then started picking off riders on the slightly (for VA) rocky descents to the short climbs that marks the end of the race. This continued until I realized I was actually on the final descent to the finish. I just let the brakes go and figured I would either catch a few more guys or flat and loose all the places I had gained. As luck would have it I caught three guys for real, actually passing them on the descent and one who was fixing his tire.
The fellow sitting on the table flatted.
I rode with him on and off all day and felt bad for him, but such is riding. So I crossed the line in five minutes more time that last year. I blame the added time on the really bad start, and the fact it wasn’t worse on the really good last 25 miles. Next year? Maybe.
PS: I won the slightly larger than normal folks race. What did I win? The knowledge that among the bigger folks I am not the slowest. The winner beat me by two hours.