Monday, September 11, 2006

LOTOJA: A Beginning

I woke up at 5 am on Saturday. I was so tired. The previous night had been spent too hot, followed closely by too cold (once the opened window started doing its job). I hadn't slept well. I took a shower trying not to think too much about what lay ahead. The hot water helped to get my blood flowing. Taking more care than usual, I dressed in the clothes I had decided on the night before.

Should I put chamois cream on now, or wait? I'd better do that last before I leave. It will need to last a long time.

I filled two water bottles while James got ready for the day. One filled with Cytomax. I couldn't eat. Nothing sounded good. Nothing tasted palatable. This would turn out to be a common theme throughout the day. I forced myself to eat a Clif Bar. I stuffed 4 Gus into my pockets.

I stepped outside to load the car and found everything cold, foggy, dark, and wet. Back inside for the chamois cream.

James struggled to get the Caution Bike Race and LOTOJA Support Crew signs taped to the inside of the car. I was too nervous to pay much attention. I kept looking around at the bikers pouring in to the starting area. Are they more prepared than I am? He's wearing a windbreaker. Am I dressed right? Is a vest going to be enough? Should I bring my full-fingered gloves? Should I head the line now, or do I have time to ride around the block a bit?

I ended up riding over to the line while James struggled with a wet window—wet on both sides. They were calling out the 1600's to line up. Plenty of time. I rode back to see James finishing up. Another rider forgot a pump and I needed to help him with mine. Am I missing anything? How much time do I have?

When James finished up, I had him hold my bike while I used a purple outhouse. I didn't know they made them in colors other than green and blue. They do.

The 1700's are starting to line up. I'm 1846. We're next. After a few parting words of encouragement, I ride away from James into the chaos of the assembling riders. Some have pretty nice bikes. Others not. How fast are these guys? Am I going to be able to find a group to stick with? Am I going to make it?

"1800's line up. 1 minute to go," says the announcer. "You need to finish this race by 8:30 or dark, whichever comes first. If you don't finish by then, train harder next year." I smile, but inside I'm still wondering which group I'll be in at the end of the day. James is over on the side taking pictures. I force a smile.

"About 25 seconds to go." She continues to give more details about the course. "Still pretty foggy out there, so be careful, but I imagine it will burn off soon." Music is blaring. I don't recognize the tune. I'm at the front with my wheel sitting right on the line. I guess I'm in a good position, but 15 groups have already left this morning. Would it even matter?

"Go! Everyone have a great ride!"


James Sharp said...

I've been waiting all day to read this. Can't wait for the next installment.

jmt said...

I'm getting butterflies just reading this. Hurry up and tell us the rest!