When they named this race the "pain" part was correct. But the Peak part, well, not so much. At least not in my case. With regard to my race it should have been called "Pain on the Taint"
Notice the saddle in the above picture. Anything stand out? Perhaps the crack in the carbon fiber saddle with a bit of bike short still its serrated maw? More on this later. It was really a beautiful clear day out there. DTP was supposed to race but when I told him that I was not getting out to the race early enough for him to make his race, he chose not to go. This despite the site was only 25 minutes from his place. No biggie. It was a bit chilly when I arrived, but It warmed up fast. By the time my race came around it was nice. Here is a view from near the starting line.
Anyway, I had forgotten how the time immediately preceeding the race is the worst. Those last 5 minutes just suck. I had flashbacks of previous races where I was just miserable, where I was totally maxed out and spent. And I realized that I was about to do it again. Willingly.
I hoped that I was in good enough shape to not be in total pain. But at the same time I realized that no matter what kind of shape I am in, I always push it to the same point--to where it hurts pretty freakin' bad. It is just that at that pain threshold I maybe going faster or slower than at other races. So basically I am doomed to suffer regardless of my fitness. And I did. Sometimes worse than other times, but not entirely because of my fitness or pace. I will brake the race in to thirds for convienence.
The first third was the one where I nearly asphyxiated.
Dust. It was thick on several parts of the course. The dirt was easily stirred up by the riders and it was so fine that it seemed to go into every corner of my lungs. I have lung issues as it is, and the conditions were such that I almost just called it a day. During the third lap I felt almost on the verge of panic because I could not get enough oxygen. So I slowed down just a bit so that the dust settled a bit from the rider in front of me and to back off my oxygen needs. Basically, the conditions were not good for me. Rain would have been much better from a breathing standpoint.
And oh yeah, there was a run up.
I was really surprised that it seemed like it was the same old fatty going up that hill. I just could not run up that thing. At least not all of the way. The first lap I was in 6th or 7th place until the run up. At the top I was in 12th or 13th. I think that I sunk to as low as around 15th or by around the 2 and 1/2 lap mark before I started to be able to clear out some of the crap in my lungs by coughing up a bunch of stuff.
The next third of the race--from near the end of the third lap until about the 5th lap--was golden time of the race. I was feeling pretty good, well, pretty good for a cross race. My back of course was starting to kill me as usual from pushing too big a gear, and it had started to heat up enough that I was wishing for some water. But for a cross race I was doing great at that point. I passed a few guys to the point where I was ready at near end of the 5th lap to get back into the top 10. I had the course pretty well dialed in and I knew where I could carry speed in places where others seemed to be using too much brake (the bike handled great thanks to my tubulars in part). Somewhere during this middle third I heard a fairly loud crack from my seatpost or saddle. I was worried, but everything seemed fine. The saddle was still underneath me and it wasn't wobbly or anthing so I just hoped it was something minor. Umm, no. By the end of the 5th lap it was evident that my saddle had cracked and it was continually getting worse.
The last third of the race, or really the last 2 laps, were where my saddle wanted to take a bite out of my arse. And it did, twice. And it hurt like hell the first time. I had to pull both skin and shorts out of the crack in the saddle during the 6th lap. It had managed to grab both by bike shorts and the skin in the area that many call the "taint" or "chode". Yeah, I rode much more carefully after that as I whimpered just a bit.
See this saddle of mine is uber-light. It has no padding, but because of its shape it is pretty comfy. I really liked it. The part of the saddle that my tender parts rest upon is made entirely of carbon fiber. And if you have never had a carbon fiber splinter, I would advise that you try not to ever get one. I have had one once in my hand, and they need to be removed carefully. They can be hard to find and very uncomfortable until you remove them.
I really didn't want one of those fibers finding a place in my backside. So I rode gently on the saddle and stood up for any places where I was going to be cooking at a good rate of speed or where their were bumps. Despite this I was about to pass a guy to move into 11th when I got bit a second time. I basically decided to just milk it in and try to hold my spot. And I did. 12th place out of 25 finishers in my class. 29 started, 4 guys DNF'd. Because of the stupid dust and the saddle I am fairly satisfied with my performance. There are places I could improve and my fitness is not good enough, but still...not bad.
Here are some more pictures I took of the race after ours. I think this is Men's 50+ and Jr. Men.
As far as my predictions went; I was wrong about my placement, 12th instead of 10th. I was right about the number of people that showed, about 1/4 to 1/3 of those that show up for a Cross Crusade race. But considering this was the first time that this race has been put on and that it was a new venue, I was pretty impressed. I would love to do this race again...later in the year...when it is raining and less dusty. Also, I was right that Joel would not show up. And finally, I was also right that Mr. Spears would bloody one of his knees. Not too bad.
Oh yeah. And then tonight I get a picture message from this same Mr. Spears showing what came out of his nasal passage after using a neti pot to clear out the crap from this race. He had a little rock or pebble that came out. Nice.
Oh, and damage tally from today race: about $175 at wholesale prices. My saddle and Vermarc bib shorts are both ruined. My have pieces of the lycra material missing from my shorts that were eaten away by that man-eating saddle. Thanks goodness for the chamois pad, otherwise it would have been really ugly.