Monday, October 27, 2008

mountain man biathlon, (20 years of stupidity), morristown, new jersey

Race recap: In the style of the old Bikehampton races, we piled into the suburban, lashed the bikes to the rack and hit the road: powered up on coffee, bagels and headed off in the pre-dawn. Dan Farnham from Montauk, our trusty driver, drove the well-troden I-495 with Mike Bahel, Dennis and I trying not to nod off in the back. We met swim coach Tom Cohill (East Hampton) Chris and Jill Robbins (Islip) , Matt Reale and Matt Ruggeri (East Hampton) in the parking lot of the Lewis-Morris State Park where the early birds for the 20th anniversay race were gathering. Classically freezing cold, we were happy to be lollygagging around in only 3 layers of clothing, before peeling down to skinsuits and cycling jerseys with one hour to go. Despite having been racing for a combined 100 years between us, we began to catalogue the disasters and problem solve with a clock counting down: First Mike discovered that the face-plate to his stem was not only corroded, but was cracked right through, the hendlebar being visible THROUGH the faceplate. With only 2 of the bolts having any attachment to the bike, the remaining two floating in space, he attempted to switch bikes with Matt Ruggeri. Matt now discovered that his spare bike had a serious headset defective wobble, which would surely fail on the rooty, rocky course. We had visions of Mike losing his teeth / collar-bone / brains until, genius that he is / we are, a 1/2 roll of electrical tape bolstered by a 1/4 roll of duct-tape saved the day..Not my choice of bike repair, but enough to get the brave Mikey on his trusty steed, albeit gingerly on the downhills. Next up, Chris arrives at our 'burb, with the announcement that he had inadvertantly left his sneakers at home on the stairs. Fat lot of good that did him now.. Jokingly, Danny offered his size 12 Merrell slip on shoes to sized 11 Chris. Accepted! Complete with his wife's socks on top of Dan's socks, and again making use of the duct tape to stop the slide of the shoe on his narrow foot, Chris was off to the races..The crowd was full of the usual convicts, race directors in full fancy dress costume, supporters and racers alike getting into the spirit of the race, dressing up as spiderman, sexy maids and disney characters. 250 or so racers lined up for the 2 / 11 / 2 race, with 2 mile run (hilly, off-road, trails slippery from the previous night's downpour) then 2 x 5.5 mile loops on challenging technical teeth-shaking fast terrain, and then repeating the 2 mile run; this time with cramping hamstrings, cramping calf muscles and a general anaerobic-induced hypoxia. I didn't wear a heart-rate monitor, mainly for fear of knowing my max was being maxed out, but it doesn't take a physiologist to figure that I was struggling near 175 for the majority of the race. After a really fast initial run loop, I belted out a bike loop, tried to settle into the second loop letting my heart rate drop somewhat, but arrived back at the transition area with the second placed female on my heels, despite seeing her wipe out in the whoop-de-do section 1/2 mile before the end of the bikeleg. I dug deep, reaching into the positive thinking part of my brain and tried to banish the pain demons. I knew that I didn't have much reserve remaining to increase speed, so I tried to just focus onto holding my lead. At each hill-crest, I took the liberty to check behind me, NOT SEEING anyone but a couple of guys catching me!! woo-hoo, I cruised the last 1 mile, only stalling at the hill sections to stretch my screaming hammies. Finishing in style hobbling over the line in my Champion-System team issued skinsuit (first time worn since our China trip) I won first place female in 1:22-ish and either 17th or 16th overall.. no official results yet. Danny had had an excellent race on his singlespeed steed, finishing 10th overall, not bad for a 50 year old commercial fisherman!! Mikey finished 5th, having been 2nd at one point, but possiblysaving his energy for the world series Philly game later. Chris had incredibly finished 2nd overall, having been pipped in the last 1/4 mile while flopping in Danny's Merrels, downhill over the roots..Dennis came in about 1-2 minutes after me, looking beat, but not cramping for a change: he had had a great run and initial bike, and I had expected him to catch me on the 2nd bike loop as he had been riding like a demon in Utah / Fruita / Tahoe earlier this month. Truly, my real champion system! Matt Ruggeri was at the finish line taking photos, having suffered an asthma attack on the run, retiring to do the "David Bailey" papparazzi thing. The last funny calamitous detail surfaced, Matt Reale having cracked his seatpost in the first bike loop, managing to switch bikes with the asthmatic air sucking Matt Ruggeri in the transition area.. adding to the hilarity of the event. The finishline was only 20 feet from the beer keg, the prizes were doled out, this year a lump of wood with a rock siliconed to it ..(previous years prizes being a rock with a lump of wood glued to it, a beer bottle with a rock glued to it, a hot sauce bottle with an alien glued to it, and another rock with a bike-shaped pasta piece glued to it). Despite the throbbing exertion headache, the only regret that I had was missing the last 7 years races.. what HAD we been thinking! We clambered back into the 'burb, grabbed some pizza en route and called home, regaling our friends with the funny stories, the successes, the tribulations, the foaming snot and cramping hammies. Grassroots can't beat it.. Sign us up for next year!

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