Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Coffee and Lies 118 Past the point of no return

Look away...
Hey, isn't that a new 20/20 kit ?
Following four days of indecision Hottie and I opted to stay on the west side of the mountains this past weekend.  The current long-range weather forecast and my present level of physical discomfort has me second guessing several decisions

On Friday I prepared an ambitious list of tasks I hoped to accomplish over the weekend.  The first order of business was building up a new rear wheel on Friday evening.  After I had built the wheel I cleaned the rim, applied rim tape and a value (I’m all about the tubeless) and mounted a tire with YouTube type ease.  I pumped up the tire and it inflated as if there was a tube in it and held overnight.  This was a perfect start to the weekend.

Hottie and I took Tux out Saturday morning for a long walk. When we got back I headed out to the big orange store to buy lumber to begin replacement of a fence that was falling apart. My plan had been to do it a bit at a time.

My theory is that at some point in time someone uttered a phrase something to the effect of, “I don’t see what the big deal is with pressure treated lumber, this regular stuff will probably be just fine.” Even if it appeared fine for a time, that time was short and passed long ago.

With the back of the War Wagon sagging under the weight of cedar and pressure treated lumber I returned with the ingredients not just for a fence, but for an aching back.  It is sad to say it out loud.  I knew exactly what I was in for.  

The demolition was embarrassingly easy and soon I was swinging a hammer driving in galvanized nails with purpose.  By the time I ran out of wood and motivation I had just over fifty linear feet done and the worst section had been replaced.

I wanted to get in a ride on the new wheel before Sunday so I donned the costume and got in a quick hour. The wheels roll good with angry bee sound.  Perfect!  It is hard to judge the stiffness of a wheel with wide low pressure tires.  I did manage to rail a couple corners and they felt rock solid.

That evening I took care of some inside tasks then fell into bed with a sore back and hamstrings. 

When Sunday morning arrived with a buzz I opened my eyes and clenched my teeth even before I began to move in anticipation of the hurt.  To my astonishment I didn’t feel too bad.  I brewed up some Joe and had my pre-ride breakfast of grits and eggs while I prepped a bottle.  Ironically I forgot the bottle.

As we assembled I could not help but notice how awesome the new team kit looks.  Before we looked like a bunch of guys in matching kits. Now we look like a bunch of Badass guys who race for the same team.  We don’t look as friendly as we used to.  That isn’t all bad.   I am curmudgeon man.

I promised myself and others I would hold back and stay out of the mix when the ride transitioned from social to throw down at the usual spot. When the pace ramped up I gladly settled into the second group.  Sometimes we break into two groups; sometimes more.  Today it was more.

All was good until the front three guys spun around and rejoined us. The front half of the second group (which included Evo) was suddenly part of the first group and now we were flying.  Each time I rotated to the back there were fewer and fewer riders.  We hit the hill and it was every rider for himself. 

After the pack was shattered I picked up with El Pirate and Big John and a guy from Cucina Fresca that I still don’t know who he is.  We finished the first half strong.  On the way back we started pretty social but by the time we were approaching the downhill there were six of us off the front and we were not going slow.

On the gradual climb after the downhill I got a sick sense of what was to come.  It was a feeling like when you hold a five pound weight in your hand and stick your arm straight out.  You know you can hold it for a bit, but in just a matter of seconds it is going to start to ache.

I felt like I could go a little faster if I needed to, but not for long.  I also knew I couldn’t keep this level of effort up the whole way back to the bridge.  Moonlight and McWoodie were drilling it with El Jefe, Big John, Evo and El Pirate just trying to hang on. 

The road swung left and right and climbed and dropped.  The beauty of the roller coaster route was lost due to hypoxia. My HR climbed and when my turn came at the front I took my allotted suffering with broad shoulders.  When I rotated back I struggled to catch the back of the paceline each time. Moonlight encouraged me with a “Good pull.”  If he only knew.

We were all tucked as aero as we could be and my back was screaming something about fence building but I ignored it and just kept churning.  I noticed there were just five of us.  Then when I started to falter I looked behind and realized there were only four of us.  Hang on Evo, hang on!

I checked my HR and in theory I had more left in the tank.  My slow tires and sore body were clearly not supportive of a fast ride.  I could feel gravity, wind and rolling resistance all battling Newton’s first law.  Perhaps I could summarize the feeling by saying I was battling time. Despite each of us fighting against it, time remains undefeated.

I tried to compartmentalize the hurt. I tried to focus on cadence and breathing and pedal stroke and the wheel in front of me.  I tried to tuck lower to hide from the wind. I tried to go to my happy place then I tried my angry place.  In the end the volume of the screaming coming from my legs drowned out everything else.

Blam! I popped.

Sadly there is a moment in between the time when your mind knows you are done and when your pedaling backs off that you know you’re blown but nobody else can tell. When you are in this phase you don’t make eye contact. It is only a moment or two later; when your pedaling slows that others know you’re done.  The gap opens slowly at first then expands quickly. You look behind to see if someone is close enough that you might be able to team up them and work together.

I watch as McWoodie, El Jefe and Moonlight pull away. I look behind me and I don’t see anyone. Then after a minute of catching your breath you (wrongly) think maybe you can catch back up and so you try to push it again. The gap continues to grow and your legs remind you why you came off the back in the first place.  
Soon enough El Pirate joins me and we trade pulls as Big John, spent from racing the day before (WTF), catches us from behind.  I don’t know if John even knows what a recovery day is.  We rotate once or twice before the little hill that precedes the finishing climb.  Just to mess things up I attack on the little climb and zip down the descent in advance of the final climb.

At the base of the climb El Pirate and Big John catch me and Big John pulls ahead as El Pirate gives me a push from behind.  Inspired by the push I pull up alongside Big john and then surge just to give him something to chase.

Up ahead I can see El Jefe on the climb but he is done going fast.  I am closing in on him but I won’t catch him before the top. I don’t know if Big John or El Pirate are still chasing me or not but I am committed and I am fighting my way to the top.  My heart is racing and I know this will be the last hard thing I do on a bike today. My legs are on fire as I top out. My lungs are burning as well.  Even though I am still rolling I slump over my bars gasping for air.

We gather under the trees and I fight to catch my breath. The fact I was on wide, slow tires is lost on my companions.  The dry weather was a treat and we all had our fast bikes today.  There was only one fender amongst a dozen or more 20/20 riders.  If there was an award for the fastest guy on a slow bike I’d take it.  It is kind of like being the tallest dwarf.  It isn’t really anything to be excited about.

The rest of the ride is social which is good because I am cooked.  The climb to coffee seems easier thanks to the slow pace and some good rides over the winter.  A special shout out to El Chefe fo rth elong winter rides.  At Fuel we share coffee and lies then part ways.
Men in black.  There I said it.....
Once home I shower then check the weather and the week ahead looks wet.  I won’t be working on the fence one section at a time after work unless I want to get wet.  I drive back to the orange store and get more wood.  I resign myself to the knowledge that I am past the point of no return and that Monday will be pain day for Evo.

By the time the sun sets the fence is done and my shirts for the week are ironed. The apple tree has been trimmed and the mess is mostly cleaned up.  My hands and back join my legs and the rebellion takes charge.  
THAT is a freakin' fence !!
Sometimes we have to do what needs to be done. Other times we can’t help ourselves as we are drawn to our individual addictions. What amuses me is that oftentimes we know exactly what we are getting into and we do it anyway. Thank goodness for Aleve.

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