How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?
This race is a must do if you like to beat the hell out of yourself without taking anything all too seriously. The locals, volunteers, race staff, park staff and other racers all had such great attitudes that you couldn’t help but be happy despite the agony of your self inflicted plight. And the club support was just fantastic - it really helped get me through this race.
SWIM: ~39 mins. Better than I predicted. Great water temp, really enjoyable swim.
RIDE: ~4½ hrs. It’s no secret that it’s the ride that defines this race. Before ever having ridden the course, I thought it would be cool to try to muscle through it with my all purpose 39/25 road setup. Then in June I attempted the ride and found that I was a little too fat to make it up the Wall with that gear. I hate to dump lots of money into a single event, and didn’t want to pay for a triple or compact crank. I found that Campy offers a 13-29 cassette under one of their bargain basement product lines (relatively speaking) so I bought one for ~$75 new on eBay. A subsequent re-ride of the course went better, although I didn’t feel like running afterward. It would have to do (in my case, CB would stand for Cheap Bastard).
I should also mention that the bike I was riding was a 15 year old Pinarello steel frame that belonged to a friend, Steve Auten, who died of cancer in ‘97. One of the last things he said to me was that his bike damned well better be ridden. I’ve enjoyed riding that bike for years now and thought this race would be a great way respect Steve’s wishes for me and his bike.
So I set out riding, but I take my time, a friend of the devil is a friend of mine (how’s that, Jelly?), especially on the Westernport Wall, where I think there may have been four devils at once. The Wall was a wild scene. You turn onto Rock St and the noise from the block party hits you even harder than the view of this ridiculously steep hill you are about to attempt. It was both intimidating and exhilarating. Something really worth experiencing, either from the bike or the roadside. I went very slowly up the paved pitches, trying to be fresh for the final section of pave. I had planned to find a lull in the traffic up the wall so I’d have a clean shot at it, but approaching the top of the final approach, it was a scene of such complete pandemonium that I had little choice but to follow the train straight into the breach. I tried to take a line right of center, but some bloke who had already bitten it and was trying to get off the course forced me to the left side. I yelled to him to stop, which amazingly he heard and did. I went to the left, into deeper ruts, but kept the cranks turning, albeit very slowly. I think I heard someone to my right hit the deck, then the next thing I knew, Bob Reid was screaming in my ear and Carole was jumping up and down just past the engraved bricks. To my relief, I’d made it.
My legs were shot, but I just kept slowly grinding up Rock St. When I passed the clothing drop, I considered pretending that I had something to discard, just to stop for a few seconds, but by then I had recovered ever so slightly, so I continued. I was surprised by the number of riders either traversing or walking already. I decided to make it a minor goal to not traverse on any of the climbs. Unfortunately, I had to abandon that goal on Killer Miller and again on Menardier Ridge when my right quad started cramping. So I did a little traversing, but no walking. I think I would have been faster overall with a lower gear and might have better held off the cramps, but I was happy with the ride.
RUN: ~3:05 My run is quite slow when I’m fresh and well rested, so after that ride, I was practically going backwards. On the first lap, I found that I could run 85 strides uphill before my right hamstring began to cramp. I was drinking a lot and popping Enduralytes throughout the ride and run, but I still had lot’s of cramping potential. By the second lap, my hamstring had settled down and the cramps had migrated to both calves. I saw Hector my first lap and Carole on both laps. They were both really inspiring, especially Carole when she told me that she’d be really pissed at me if I made it up the Wall, then missed the time cut and lost my brick. With about 3 miles to go I realized that I had less time remaining that I had thought, so I attempted to pick up my running pace and decrease the incidence of walking. This turned my legs into hair triggered cramp bombs. With about a half mile to go and 8 minutes until the cut, Carole, Lisa and Hector met me on the course and paced me in. I tried to pick up my pace in the chute, but the cramps were nipping too hard. I crossed the line with about 3 minutes to spare and half collapsed in Rob Vigorito’s arms. He and Steve were also good friends, and we were both pretty choked up that I had gotten a brick on Steve’s bike. At the finish I was greeted by Hector, Carole, Lisa, Sadj, Bob, Sue, Dave, Linda, CB, Kat (CB’s wife) and probably more club members. I was in a sort of fog by then, so I’m not too sure. I wallowed in the lake with Dave for a few minutes, ate some pork, packed up the stuff, then high tailed it back to my parent’s house in Laurel to get the best rewards of all, celebration hugs from my best buddy Charlie (7) and my girlfriend Danielle (4).
This is a great race. I could not be more adamant in recommending that you add it to your life list.