April 7, 2011

From the Archives: The 2004 Larry Schwartz Memorial Tinbutt 12-hour Meltdown

7/24/2004 – The Larry Schwartz Memorial Tinbutt 12-Hour Meltdown Journal

Friday, July 23rd –
The Day Before…

6:00pm After a full day of checking out the little town with my family, who came down to see it, too, I am ready to settle in at the hotel room, put last minute touches on the bike, add water to the endless bottles of Sustained Energy and Hammer HEED blends I have ready for the event, and get to sleep.

6:02pm I hit the hotel lobby, and the check-in desk for Tinbutt -- I meet the organizer, Don, who seems really familiar to me for some reason -- I grab my packet, chat a bit, and seeing no-one else in the lobby yet, I proceed to make my way back up to the room, when Sam Baugh walks in and recognizes me from MV24 last year - we chat it up and talk about the weather moving in and how it will affect tomorrow, etc. It was good to see a familiar face, but at the same time it was sinking in that now there was no hope for a high overall placing.

6:20pm Back in the hotel room, I mix drinks, continue bike prep, and pin my rider number on my jersey, and begin hear the thunder outside. Grrr...downpour -- crazy for July -- reminds me of severe weather in April up in KC.

7:45pm I head downstairs to check out the rain, and hit the NWS website in the internet 'box' they have set up at the hotel - I frown at the results of my glance. Oh well -- I wanted a challenge. I check BJ.com, and see Kincannondale was planning on hitting the hotel to get his packet --- uh, DUH ON ME... I shoulda just hung out there for a bit longer. Missed him.

8:05pm I try to relax with a movie, can't sleep - worry too much, and then finally lay down and close my eyes. The big day, wet or dry, is only hours away...

Saturday, July 24, 2004
Tinbutt time.

4:00am The alarm goes off, and I am out of bed like a shot. It's still raining. Shower, and one final run to the hotel ice machine to top off the cooler and the water refill jugs. Even though water is provided at the event, it's not in my car -- extra walk = extra time burned. I am dressed and ready to roll...but I don't have to leave just yet.

5:00am The rain stops, almost on the nose of 5:00am. Time to rack the bike and roll. The dry window won't last, based on the radar, but it's a good thing to start dry! I hit the dark streets of Stillwater, and head west on 51 to Redlands Rd., then to the park. Sam Baugh beat me there, and he and crew are getting the canopy set up, tables, etc. I pull in as close as I can, and pop the trunk, put Phish's latest in the CD deck at low volume, and get some things ready to run.

6:00am More and more people start showing up, and the atmosphere is GREAT. Howdys, 'mornings, etc... I love a ride start. It's one of the reasons riding an organized event is so cool. Tons of different people, different bikes, different pre-ride routines, all unfolding in the parking lot..as the sun gets a little higher in the sky - only to be blocked by clouds that would eventually only break enough for me to see my shadow three times in the next 12 hours. A familiar jersey makes it's way across the street -- inside that jersey is Kincannondale -- the man, the legend - we finally meet! He's a lot taller than I thought he'd be. No matter. We set up our stuff, talk shop, talk bikes, talk weather, talk BJ.com -- Tammy shows up -- it's awesome to finally put names and faces and handshakes together... the internet is truly an amazing thing. In the throes of pre-race jitters and routines, people seldom can take the time to meet new riders, &; if Bikejournal.com didn't exist, we would have never met otherwise. Slantz, are you getting all this??? You are revolutionizing the cycling community. Two cyclists, hundreds of miles apart, show up in the same park for a race, and pick up talking just like they were in the forums. Awesome.

6:55am It's GO time. Don shouts, and I move to the line. Kincannondale has someone take a picture... I shoulda brought MY camera!... hope it's a good shot! The ride announcements come --- and they are PERFECT, lighthearted, but informative -- for anyone running their first race, they are spoiled with this guy -- compared to other event's I've run in, the pre-race feel was spot-on, and every question was answered, every detail explained. No questions left. Time to ride!

7:00am The park ranger starts us, and the battery is inserted into the official race clock. The fun begins! The peloton exits the immediate start area, takes a short uphill, a hairpin, and a right turn, then left, right, left, left, left -- (whatever!) -- DEER! Two small doe prance from the brush & across the road... very neat. It's HUMID. My glasses begin to fog over. The pace comes up quick -- looks like I'll have to find a spot. Sam, myself, and three others - a John from California, and a Dave from Texas - plus one unidentified rider on a white Trek 1400, start to work hard and soon we have split the bunch and are on the way out of the park and down the nasty-looking hill on Airport Rd. Just like Kin had said, just find a line -- it's scary fast, fun. We turn onto Redlands.

7:05 - 8:00am This is an absolute blast. It's insane how fast we are eating up the road. We are at OK-86 in a heartbeat --- well, several thousand heartbeats, actually -- this pace is putting me more into race-range than all-day range, as far as HR is concerned -- might as well enjoy it while I can. In typical fashion, it seems I've gone out too hard -- we hit Bronco Rd., and I proceed to enjoy a winter and spring of nothing but hill training on my commutes. It's a BLAST, this road, slightly reminiscent of Johnson Drive in the KC area, but not as steep... well, maybe not as steep in a few sections! This is good terrain, and by lap 5 it will really start putting the hurt on people - and me. Sam, John, Dave, 1400, and me are back at McMurty Park before 8:00am - incredibly, we have completely surprised the race organization - we hit the line faster than they (or I) expected to. The hole-punch doesn't work, so a magic marker is employed instead -- bottles are exchanged, but I am good for two laps per car-stop. Time to roll again!

8:00 - 9:00am We are hitting it hard again -- so much for my theory of "one fast preview lap, and settle into a reasonable pace" -- we are hammering again, and I'm feeling fresh enough to take my share of mile-long pulls. Then, air became thicker and thicker -- wetter -- the brim of my cycling cap suddenly lets loose a droplet onto the surface of my sunglasses. Errr.... here we go. Rain! It's not nearly as bad as some of the downpours I've ridden in on the way to or from work on any given rainy day, but it will certainly be longer in duration. Thankfully, it's a warm rain -- but the paceline spray and the assault of 65 MPH traffic right next to us on OK-51 is making things pretty sloppy. To 86, then back to Bronco - but we manage to sweep up two of the non-competing riders on the route -- after only one lap? -- impossibly, our second lap is nearly as fast as the first, but we have lost one rider -- 1400 is not there at check-line. This pace is crazy -- but it's worth a shot...unfortunately, I have to stop to get fresh bottles at the car. Sam, John and Dave are off and up the road before I can even get the trunk open.

9:00am - 10:30am The third lap hurts me. The rain is slowing now, to drizzle, but the wind is picking up slightly. After getting fresh fuel, the fast pack is out of sight. I hammer thru the park, taking risks on the wet pavement and sharp curves, trying to catch them - but to no avail. I hammer the hills on Redlands, but they are long, and my reserves from two 20-something MPH average laps are running short. The fresh fuel helps, but I fear it is too late. I hit the long uphill that is immediately after the turn onto OK-51, and the tank reads empty. I can see the three up the road, but there is no more shove in the legs. I abandon to the small ring and watch them crest the hill, which is the last time I will see them for a while. I limp the rest of 51, then 86, and Bronco Rd. now is enjoying a little bit of a tailwind - I muster thru the hills, and hit the park for the end of lap 3. That stunk. Time for lap four.

10:30am - 4:30pm After lap three, it was clear it was too late to do anything about catching the leaders, and also apparent that any plans I had for an overall placing - or a age division placing for that matter - were out the window with the fun of the first two laps, and my consistent inability to stay focused on the long-term when running these kind of events had taken its toll. At MV24 last year, however, my strong spring brevet base allowed me to keep up a ridiculous pace for 4 laps of a 55 mile loop before popping. Today, it took under 50 miles to snuff the candle. Lap 4, 5, 6 and 7 were all roughly the same; singing songs to myself to take my mind off the lead in my legs, keeping a mental log of the junk amassing in the shoulder of OK-51 -- it was as if that section would never end, even though it was only 6 miles long. I'd count off the debris: metal bar.... Enervitene pouch.... french fry tray.... black plastic 'thing'.... blue plastic 'thing'.... rusty metal.... bridge.... cemetery sign.... 86.... yikes. Bronco Rd., the advertised hard section for the day, turned into the promised land with the stiff tailwind -- I practiced my rhythm while the breeze helped shove me back to the park for the end of Lap#7; but I was spent, tired, yawning, achy, mentally spent -- and really not liking my shoes very much -- missing my SPD sandals -- especially since I'd spotted John from California wearing them and realizing that on these rides, it doesn't make much difference -- I could climb just as easy on either platform, but I should have chosen comfort. Speaking of John... there he goes: with Sam and Dave, still together! I've been lapped by the group I started with. I was done.

4:30pm Sam yelled out over his shoulder at me as he flew past -- "ya'llright?" -- and John, "What happened?" -- I didn't have an answer for either... I was smoked, and the final nail was in the coffin's lid. I continued on at my own pace, limping back towards the park, watching the proud threesome, the one that last year I could have been a part of, disappear up the road --- I'm never skipping the brevet series again! --- By the time I made it back into the park, there was Sam again, coming back out after checking in, looking like he'd just gotten started - strong, focused, smiling, and with a thumbs-up as he passed again -- "Keep it up, man" -- he knew as well as I did what had just transpired, but still words of encouragement -- a true class competitor! Unfortunately, the mental battle had already been played out, and "keeping it up" was out of the cards. I reached my car, opened the trunk, took the seatbag off the bike, took off my shoes and helmet, and sat down. 5:00pm The interesting thing about mental battles is that casualties can always be brought back to life, and the battlefields redrawn. Over a 30 minute period of self evaluation, second guessing, and watching other riders come in, plus checking the time sheets, I decided that it would be better if I tried to get all that I could. I had only taken maybe 15 total minutes off the bike up to my 30 minute 'rest' session, so I had time for one more lap. But not without help -- I popped a couple ibuprofen for the arches of my feet and the general achy feeling I was having, and started to put my shoes back on. Then my helmet. Soon, I was back on the road for my NEW last lap. Ryan, the other member of our age group, already had this one well in the bag having scored an extra lap, so I was shooting for second place -- since there was no third place competitor in our group, there was no hurry. Just FINISH this. After all, a great rider once told me -- winning isn't everything...finishing is. Even though there were no DNFs handed out for the route, it was silly of me to cash it in at 7 laps when I clearly had enough clock left for 8 total. I hit it pretty good - much of it was the ibuprofen talking for me, but it felt good to not hurt so much, and finally have some push back in the legs. As an added 'bonus', tho, the headwinds from the NW shifted a little toward the north, solid, with drizzle again. I traversed the long ribbon of OK-51, hit 86, and slogged my way thru more drizzle and howling winds. July??? Whatever! Bronco Rd., I felt fabulous - so much better than the previous 4-5 laps, that is. I climbed my way back into the park, and BLISS - there was the line!!! I hit it at...ughh.. who knows until I get a *real* stat chart like KIN has posted for his stuff... but in any case, that was it. No clock left for another lap, so 176 miles it is... Not bad for having no base mileage - but I know what I'm doing next Spring -- I've already started it, here today === the mileage I got today will provide the base I need to have a terrific winter/spring campaign -- after which, NEXT year at Tinbutt, I will just maybe be able to stay in that lead group all the way to the finish, just like Sam, John and Dave --- at a little before 7:00pm, they three crossed the line together with 11-laps, and 242 miles. Fantastic!! Definitely something to work for. Always someone better -- but the important thing for me, am I better than I was LAST time? I can ask that of myself next year, and hopefully have a positive answer. With the driving, this has been a long weekend... but I'm back on the bike tomorrow AM for a commute and coffee run, just to see how the legs feel, and to work out some of the stiffness. Then, find a way to increase daily mileage -- by the time this rolls around again, who knows... might be a better personal result... until I have done all that I can for MY own performance, I can't compete with those heavy hitters .... but it was such a thrill to have pulled and paced with them for the two laps I managed. Unforgettable... Tinbutt: Looking forward to next year!!! Kincannondale: Awesome to meet you -- next year, dinner, or a day-before training ride, eh? Stay on it, man --- like the last guy said: you are in an elite group already: over 80% of ALL cyclists have no desire to ride beyond a century, nor will they... cheesy as it may sound, pushing yourself to hit that mark makes you a winner, no matter what color medal they hand you. With a little healing and retrospect, I think you'll see it. Trust me -- I go through that each time --- never ask an ultra-rider/racer if they'll be back next year RIGHT after a race. They'll say 'no' -- but it's amazing how fast you hit the websites looking for the next challenge after you put a couple of days past it...

See you next year!

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