Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do As I Say ...

I DNF’ed on the 600K over the weekend. I feel bad about it, I had built this up in my mind and wanted to make a good showing, plus it is a ride through some pretty parts of the state at the perfect time of year.

My pre-ride prep went well, I got up to the start there in Arlington pretty much before the insane "Friday evening-I-90-100 mile-tailgate session" commenced, I ate very sensibly the night before, got to bed early, and slept as well as might be expected.

It was a dark and foggy for the start, and in no time at all I was off the back. No worries that’s where I do my best work. Well truth be told that’s where I do most of my work.

I made a navigation error very early in the ride that cost me most of an hour. This is something that happens occasionally when I put a little too much pressure on myself; I ‘over think’ the situation. No matter soon I was on my way and once the sun came up it was a pretty, autumn day.

I knew I was behind the power curve for time but I also knew not to panic, just keep the pedals ticking over, all that.

About 15 miles in though I heard the first rumblings of trouble in the boiler room. It was almost a 'tap out match' between me and the kid cleaning the restroom at McDonalds in Granite Falls. I guess one look at me and he figured this was an argument he’d rather not win. So, ’relieved’ of a burden (and more time) I went along my way.

45 miles later I had to stop. There is a place along Highway 2 Called Baring, a combination deli-general store-Post Office, …. and porta-potty. I went in and got a can of that time tested rando stomach elixir, 7-Up, downed that and spent more time in the blue room. This helped, ... a lot, and I hoped that I was now in position to ride through this problem, which it was high time to do as the climbing of Stevens Pass loomed ahead.

By Skykomish

I knew that there was serious trouble ahead (cheery commuity garden aside).

I pulled off US 2 and onto the Old Cascade Hwy to the cheers of the ride organizers at the secret control. I loaded up on water.  The offer of chips was, well, lets just say it did not appeal.

As I rode up the old road I was simultaneously gaining elevation and spiraling deeper into a dark hole filled with boiling stomach ‘issues’. I wasn’t crawling but did surprise myself on more than one occasion, noticing how excruciatingly slow one can go on a bike and still stay up right. Minutes did not tick by, hours did. Occasionally when I stoped I noticed the mushrooms were out.

And then about two miles from the summit I bonked. It’s an ironic dilemma that really has only one solution as anyone who’s been in this situation knows. You are sick to your stomach and the mere thought of food triggers the gag reflex, while at the same time the engine is so starved of fuel that you literally cannot make the bike move forward, especially up. Did I say only one solution? I suppose there are two really. You can lay down and die, or …eat, and see what happens.

I chose the middle route, I didn’t lay down but leaned up against an old road sign, almost laid out flat, and contemplated a Crunchy Peanut Butter Cliff Bar, of indeterminate age (‘sell by’ date Sept 2009). Of course it was at this precise moment that 'yuppie outdoor enthusiast' couple in the Subaru Outback with the kayak/bike/Thule box rack came rolling around the switch back and screeched to a stop. They burst out of their car and asked if I needed help. It took a little talking but eventually they left me to die in peace. They were familiar with the term bonk (in a cycling context) though I suspect they had not seen anything like this on an ‘organized’ bike event before.

Some time later I was back on my bike pedaling, and stopping, and pedaling some more. While the nosh had staunched the ‘hunger knock’ it had also fueled the controversy down below.

I got to Stevens Pass about 4:45. At this point I was about 85 miles into the ride …. 85  FREAKING MILES!! We had started at 6:00am (you do the math, I can’t stand to). The next control was Leavenworth, 35 miles to the east, which closed at 6:40. 35 miles in 2 hours was probably not in my quiver this day. 

I called Robert and let his wife know that I was packing it in, then I called Mrs. C and let her know that I was headed back toward the start.

Oh, the “Do as I say“ part? One of the things Mrs. C asked was, "Honey, don’t you want to stop, and rest, and eat something, and think about it, before you make that decision?” She’d read an advice article I had recently written on this very subject. Ironic that I have such incredible wisdom, but couldn’t make the prescription work for myself.

So I returned by way of the 'real' US 2 and at 6:30 I was about 25 miles down the road. Who knows I might have coasted faster heading east. On the descent I’d had a flat just to test out my skills at squatting, lifting, bending, and pumping, while trying to manage a stomach full of fire. It wasn’t pretty.


  1. It was nice to see you out on the bike anyways, Dr. Sorry that it didn't work out for you this time.

    I'm hoping that you make another run at the series in time for PBP next year. Do you think that is in the cards?

  2. Next year. You and me both will nail this distance. I was hoping to see you at the overnight, and bummed to hear that you needed to drop.

  3. Also, I wish I had taken that last call from you personally. I would have asked you to grab some of those mushrooms.