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LEAVE NOTHING!

Posted Mar 24 2013 5:46pm


Taking my turn on the front


Leave Nothing…empty the tank out…bring everything you have…monitor all systems…and in the end…you will know that there was nothing else to give.  That’s kind  of how I race…how I train…how I live…and sometimes it bites you in the butt.  Just ask Jackie Henson or Jim Craig…my first Hotter N Hell 100 miler…where I went out so fast that that I suffered like an animal the last 40 miles…and it cost me so much time…just to finish.  There is that balance…and knowing how much is left…and how far you have to go…and now as the older I get…the level in the tank seems to change…

 Last year was the first year we rode Beauty and Beast…67 miles of rolling hills in East Texas…then at mile 62…the BEAST…a hill that literally takes something special…and Last year, I rode hard…but rode fairly conservatively…finished well…just over the 4 hour mark…and rather pain free.  But this year I had a goal…3hrs 45min.  So at 9:00 AM, Michael, Amber, and I toe the line. We had trained hard…Had worked on leg strength…lots of heavy weights with lots of reps…I had gotten my cardio up well…hours on top of hours of the trainer…my last outside ride was last Sunday with Legacy…and cooking off 25 miles…most around 23 mph…and I felt great.  Saturday East Texas weather was far from perfect…temps at start were 50 degrees…with rain and chance of thunderstorms…and the wind…well, the wind had picked up too.  I mentioned that I tend to start out fast…too fast.  Amber and I had talked…she was to hold me back…for the first 10 miles…let her do the work…tuck in behind…get in the rhythm.  Michael’s intention was to finish as last year he was in a big crash at mile 2.  He was to ride his race.

As to plan…for the first 10 miles…hill after hill…Amber and I hammer it out…then at mile 10…on a climb…I get with 6 other guys….we were off…into a pace line…up and down…climbing well…each taking a turn on the front…on the few intermittent flats…we are cruising 21-23 mph…my heart rate is in check…onward…hill after hill…and as we go on…I notice that the pace line is getting shorter…at mile 20 we were down to 5…mile 25…down to 4…mile 30…well…only 2 of us left…a guy named Todd…and me…there wasn’t enough fat on Todd to make gravy…and he could climb...he was a stronger rider…and at mile 40…he was on his own…I couldn’t stay up.  

Five in a Pace Line...my turn in the back

And then there were 3...Climbing...Me, Todd to the right...unknown in black
  
Don "The Sherpa" …a friend of ours was in his car…monitoring Amber’s and my progress…at mile 54 rest stop… he pulls up and says you are riding like crazy…keep it up.  I asked if he knew of Michael and Amber…he replied he didn’t know about Michael but Amber is about 18 minutes behind.  I knew I was flirting with that ragged edge…I was feeling cramping in my quads, sartorius, abductors, and the hamstrings…all the muscles crucial in powering a bicycle.  I hadn’t stayed on top of my electorolytes…with the cool temps I probably hadn’t hydrated like I should although I was monitoring water intake…I really probably should have supplemented with S! Caps…but I hadn’t…and now I was taking in potassium in banana form…but every endurance guy will tell you…when it gets to this point…it’s too late.  I was just hoping to hang on for another 13 miles…that’s all…30 to 45 minutes…and I was about 7 minutes ahead of goal....just hang on…hang on…will the body.

The brain fires a signal to the neurons for the muscle to contract…to work…The action potential propagates by activating voltage-gated sodium channels along the axon toward the neuromuscular junction. When it reaches the junction, it causes a calcium ion influx through voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium, Sodium and Potassium ions begin the reaction…through a biochemical process the muscle fiber membrane becomes less negative…triggering an action potential on the cellular level. If those ions get dangerously low…if there is not electrical potential between the muscle fibers...then the muscles will not work…regardless of how many times the brain demands that they function. 

At mile 57…on a small climb…I am out of the saddle…if I sit…my hamstrings go into a cramp…if I stand…my quads contract…and now the cramping was to the point where the legs literally seized up…the pain is excruciating…I am off the bike…sitting …legs out straight…the quads SCREAM…I bend my leg slightly for relief on the quad…and the hamstring locks…then the abductors…the sartorius…I am helpless…I have been watching my time…10 miles left…if I can just get back on the bike…I can still push and make the goal…the athletes mind is clouded…the reasoning unreal…and after ten minutes…I get back on the bike…things seem slightly better…

Funny Pic of Amber - failure to control speed, taken and captioned by Don "the Sherpa"
I am back…proceeding with caution…and still pushing like demons are close at hand…at mile 61.5…right before you climb the beast…there is a small steep hill…I am climbing…preparing mentally for what is at hand…and the legs seize…the pain is unreal…my mind tells…no demands that the legs operate…there are no sodium ions left…nothing…I fall off my bike…on the side of the road…and I try to get relief…there is none.  An older gentleman had seen both of my cramping incidents…and he responds, “you are done…you have nothing left.”  I refuse…but I can’t even get off the ground…for 5 minutes…I try to will myself to even get up with out the cramping.  I have cramped before…during long brutal races…on the bike…on the run…but this had taken the cake.  I am laying on the ground…I see Don pull up in his black VW…I see Amber riding…her red jacket…she gets off the bike…Don starts to run…and then a pick up truck pulls up.  Mentally I am telling myself only 5 miles left, but I can’t even get up.  For 3 hours 20 minutes I had ridden like the Devil’s Own was in pursuit of my soul.  Amber and Don pick me up…I mutter about give me a minute…let me get back on the road…and Amber whispers, “no…it’s over.”  They get me in the truck…somebody puts my bike in the back…I have no idea who this is.  The man had been following a couple of friends in the race.  He looks over and says, “I have been seeing you all day…I reckon you were in the top ten.” (Top ten…of the non elites) “And that gal that stopped…she can ride too…I bet she may be the top female.”  This gives no comfort…top ten doesn’t count unless you finish.

I get back to the start…Don helps me rack my bike…I can hardly walk with cramping…I start the recovery process…salt…water…salt.  Amber makes it in…incredible ride…around 4 hours….in rain…wind…cold.  We eat…converse...and wait…Michael finishes his race.  Amber looks over at me…and knows what is going on in my head…”Dave…you rode incredible…fast...you just have a few hydration/electrolyte issues of figure out.”  She knows this will eat at me FOREVER….to ride that well…only to have one mistake take you out.  I used to have this dialed in…but it seems that it has changed a bit.

It eats at me…the only solace I take…is that I LEFT NOTHING…absolutely NOTHING!

p.s.  The most amazing thing I saw all day…is Michael, who self mandates the most strict diet, actually celebrated his race finish with a hot dog.  I myself…not only had a hot dog…but a bowl of ice cream when I got home. :-)

(all pics save the last - courtesy Don "the Sherpa")


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