Taking a week long vacation filled with warm sun, sandy beaches, and food available 24 hours isn’t the ideal taper week for a race as grueling both mentally and physically as the Porky Gulch Classic, but I survived, and actually had some fun.
I returned from the Dominican Republic at 3:30 am….Saturday. With about 2 hours of sleep I felt ready to go back to bed, but I had already committed to racing and left a day early from vacation, so I stopped hitting the snooze and headed out. I registered, chatted with my friends and co-workers about my trip, and was getting excited. Excited more about my jersey than racing, well crawling up 2 steep unrelenting miles. I have a thing for Michelin, the colors bright blue and yellow and of course how Bib looks, always smiling and clean. I received a kit from a friend a week before l left and was ready to sport it! The day was a bit overcast and not as nice as the Caribbean, so I was pretty cold when warming up. Really wished I brought my trainer but that didn’t cross my mind when I packed all my gear a week ago. This was my third time competing in Porky so I knew what to expect as far as terrain goes. What I didn’t know was how my body would react, but I wasn’t too concerned. I had finished my first Half Ironman Triathlon two months prior and with the training schedule I had this summer laid out by my Triathlon coach Steve Vosburgh, I knew I’d be ok. During my warm up I looked for my competition and only noticed two other females, and one of them was racing a category above me. As frustrating as it is to see that, it’s pretty typical, not many females race Porky. I’ll have to do a little research and get some more women for next year. So back to my competition, Ann Brophy, who I met previously this summer. She races 24 hours of Great Glen so she had to be pretty fit. As we lined up in numerical order I started to wonder how the bike and I would work together. I had borrowed the bike from my coach a few days before I left on vacation and didn’t have a chance to ride it, but was able to change the seat and pedals and to make sure it fit. Most of my warm up that morning was spent adjusting and fine-tuning the seat.
“You just want to go back bed, but your fired up and ready to take down this hill,” said Eli as I pulled up to the start line.
I don’t know that I was fired up, looking up the freshly paved path that
“ 3, 2, 1….go!” shouted Eli.
And I was off; you get a little rush of adrenaline knowing what you are about to do and how fast you are going at the moment, but that all changes 20 seconds into the ride. You drop your gears like they are going out of style and try to settle in to a comfortable cadence, which is almost impossible. There are a few spectators shuffling their way up the intense angle cheering while catching their breath. Which helps a little, so we thank them for their effort. Mile one goes by and you think that wasn’t too bad, I got this, and then turn the corner and a few hundreds later you see the black vertical wall in front of you. Your mind quickly changes to whoa this is going to hurt. You debate weather to try traversing, making it a little easier, or standing up for a few sluggish cranks to give your back a break. Meanwhile your lungs are screaming and you taste that little bit of iron reminding you, you are human and not a machine. Towards the end the road begins to flatten out, well it actually becomes somewhat easier than the previous slant you have just suffered through and conquered. You give it all you have, make a few shifts, and realize it will all be over in a minute or so. Or you see the 2 mile mark and wonder where the finish line is, but you hear the cowbell and the cheers and know that its almost there.
I pushed to the finish, and felt the burn and was glad it was over. There was chatter all over, the temperature felt like it has dropped 10 degrees because your are no longer working, everyone looks as though they are getting ready for a winter storm but they are just bundling up for the ride down, yes the ride down!
As I return to the bottom chilled to the bone; I look to my right and see Ann with a huge smile on her face, she had fun.
Quick lunch, then down to Storyland, my most favorite part of the race. I arrived just before the beginner category was starting, as always to the infamous bang of the tiny cannon that will forever catch everyone by surprise, despite plentiful warnings. As I was warming up I met up with Ann and her friends and family they were pretty excited. We talked for a few minutes about what we were going to wear seeing as it had warmed up quite a bit and the sun was peeking through scattered clouds. A few minutes later we met again at the start and we figured we would be nice and let the guys go first, it was a great decision. They were pretty much gone by the time we entered the back gate to the park. Even though I’ve raced before the criterium at Storyland is never the same. The first couple laps I figure out the best lines and know where I can shave a few seconds, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. The course doesn’t change but each lap starts to become more strategic than the last. Also I had some help from my coach around the third lap
“Next guy is 10 seconds!” Steve shouted from the seat of his bike as he paced next to me for about 20 seconds. I felt like I was in the Tour de France. “Got it,” I said knowing well off I could catch him.
I felt amazingly strong and relaxed through out the entire race and honestly I didn’t want it to end. The sharp turns, gaining speed out of each one I just felt so powerful. I am a pretty serious competitor and stay very focused during every race, I forget to smile. That was not the case this time, I was having a blast and posed for one shot by sticking out my tongue, I’ve never looked at a camera during a race, so it felt awesome. Got the bell and had one more fun ride around the course. Finished. I found Ann and she of course had a smile on. She said it was great we posed for a picture. Stayed for the Elite race and helped pick up all the barrels was home by 5ish, had some dinner, and surprisingly didn’t sleep as well as I hoped.
One more race left, the one I wasn’t too excited about. Lots of short hills, dismounting and mounting, and the wind in the flats. The lack of sleep was catching up. Had borrowed a cross bike but it was too big so I went with my mountain bike, which I had broken the spring in the rear break. Thanks to Muzzy from Red Jersey I was ready to race. I knew going into it I was going to get lapped, wasn’t feeling as strong as yesterday. Ann and I started again in the back of the pack; she was already smiling, great to see. After a briefing about the rules and course, the miniature cannon blew. After the first lap I knew it was going to be a long race but I tried to keep my own pace, again there were a few people out on course yelling and pushing you, and of course the sound of cowbells coming through at each lap. Steve was there coaching me “Ok he’s 30 seconds out” I knew I didn’t have it in me to catch him. Each lap went by and I did end up getting lapped, but I didn’t care. Took a look at my watch and still had 10 minutes left to race, but as I came though the start area I was told “Last Lap!” What a relief, one more to go. Finished and cooled down for a few minutes. I was a little disappointed with my performance, but had to keep reminding myself that it was ok considering I had just been on vacation.