|Beautiful day for a race!|
I had woken up early, felt great, and was super excited to race! I finally felt as though I had everything on lock-down and was comfortable with my pre-race routine: wake up, lay in bed for a while, make coffee, eat oatmeal, stretch, cuddle the dog, drink coffee... it's really a great routine! I was planning on getting to Fallasburg Park around 9am to set up the GRBC tent, for registration, and to warm up. I wound up doing all of those things except for setting up the shop tent... Once I got to Fallasburg park, parked the van, grabbed my number plate, and locked down the perfect base layer/jersey/jacket combo... I had about 20 minutes to race start. Whoops.
|Stoked to be rockin' the new 2014 GRBC team kit!|
I spent those 20 minutes spinning my legs riding up and down McPherson street making sure I wasn't going to overheat and before I knew it we were lining up for race start. I had chosen to do the 34mi route on my fat bike just a few days before Saturday and was really happy with my decision. My Mukluk is so much fun! The Barry Roubaix was 36mi and I was hoping to beat my time by a half hour-ish.
|Photobombed by Steve Fartzen|
The first segment of the Lowell 50 started out great. I had accidentally lined up near the middle for the start and I was rapidly making my way to the front just as we left Fallasburg park. We took a sharp left on Covered Bridge road and started going uphill. Then we turned on to Montcalm and started going uphill more. My body went from feeling really chipper and great...to feeling not so great. I'm still searching for an explanation as to what had precisely happened, but all I can chalk it up to is that my knee had a relapse. Maybe it wasn't as strong as I thought it was. Maybe I didn't drink enough water all week. Maybe I didn't get enough sleep. Maybe I didn't eat enough greens, or maybe someone had accidentally moved my saddle. Maybe I stood too much at work all week. I wore my Sugoi knickers under the new GRBC bib shorts and maybe the double-chamois did something. I used a different type of chamois cream, would that make a difference? Maybe it was the wind, or the cold, or all of these things added up together? Whatever it was, it really stunk.
When I tore my ACL, I also tore my meniscus. That was what hurt the worst when trying to get back to putting weight on my left leg. That's what has kept me from jogging. If there's a lot of impact on my leg, especially repetitive impact, it gets sore. Here within the first fifteen minutes of the Lowell 50 it felt like I had been running all week. Every pedal stroke uphill, under the pressure, I felt like my knee had a knife or two jabbed in to it. This is not something that you want to feel when you know you have 30 more miles to ride. I could have quit, maybe I should have quit, but I didn't. I couldn't. I've ridden my fat bike so many times over the winter and if there was any race I was going to stop riding it would have been the time that my bike broke, or the time that temperature was so cold that people were getting frostbite. I was getting really frustrated with myself because I knew I had it in me to push hard and I knew my lungs were healthy, and I knew my legs were strong... why were my knees holding me back? Why were they screaming at me?
I was nearly an hour slower riding the Lowell 50 course than I rode the Barry Roubaix course just two weeks ago. I tried to ignore my legs by distracting myself with interesting things on the sides of the gravel roads. "How many cow skulls mounted to people's mailboxes would I pass in 30 miles? Where was that rotting animal smell coming from? What if I bought that farm and became a friendly dairy farmer? Would that be a good spot to search for morel mushrooms? Whyyyyyyyyy do my knees hurt?!" If anyone had been going the same pace as I were (slow) they would have heard me talking to myself. When the corner marshal told me I had about 2 miles to the park I wanted to hop off my bicycle and to kiss her. Instead, I asked her to repeat herself, because it felt so good to hear the words "just 2 more miles."
|Deliriously happy to have still made the podium|
Despite my aching knees, I still finished the race with a smile on my face. No matter how difficult the terrain is, how strong the wind is, or how much my body hurts, all of that is wiped away the second I see the finish line. I get re-energized and just so excited to have done it! I had forgotten the pain and all I could remember was how beautiful the course was and how much fun it was to ride the gravel roads out that way. There were more flat spots than the Barry Roubaix, and definitely more open spots where you were at the wind's mercy. The Lowell 50 doesn't get as much recognition as the Barry Roubaix, but in my opinion the riding was just as good. The best part about the Lowell 50? I have a chance to redeem myself come October; the Lowell 50 meets twice a year. I can't wait!
|Ready for a nap, Fatty Musto, Mackenzie Woodring|
I called it an early night on Saturday, on account of feeling pretty beat up after the race. Sunday was a really great recovery day, and it really made up for feeling restricted the day before. My knees still felt a little achy, but it was a retreating ache and I felt relieved that everything would be okay. I grabbed some Bartertown in the morning with friends from Detroit, grabbed a soda from the Birch Lodge for another friend's birthday shindig, went on a two-mile hike with Ninja, and then went for a pretty long recovery ride on my Salsa Fargo. Hills still hurt, but the flats felt fine so I just stuck with that. Sunday night ended cuddled on the couch with my boyfriend and our fat cat watching Netflix. The sunlight felt good and I'm feelin' all excited for the spring. The Hellkaat Hundi is coming up pretty quickly and after getting my butt handed to me after 34 miles of gravel I'm going to play it safe and sign up for the 50 mile course. It's just one small step closer to racing 100 miles...
|Great recover ride with my Salsa Faygo... I mean, Fargo.|