Thursday, July 15, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Stage 4


I'm not a religous person, however I do understand the concept of Hell. In my mind, it would be custom tailored to each person sent there to make it as miserable as possible for them. If I were sent to my Hell, it would no doubt involve some or all aspects of stage 4 of the HHH.

I started out this post by typing "Endgame". This is what stage 4 has been for me the last 2 times I attempted the long course. The first year I made it through this stage only to succumb to heat exhaustion and took the sag wagon back to the finish. Last year I made it through this stage only to be broken by the end of it and took a shortcut to the end. So here I was getting ready to go back on the bike for the most torturous part of the ride. At the start of this stage, you are only at the halfway point, around mile 65 or so. When the stage is done with, you'll be at mile 89 or so. Stage 4 is almost 34 miles long, which as I've said numerous times is an incredibly long stage for a normal century ride. For this ride, it's insane and cruel. And if the distance wasn't bad enough, the wind was gonna be in full play this time around. I took a calming breath, one last swig of water, and then clipped into my pedals and took off.

Starting out, you're hoping that the ride stays flat. By the overall standards of the ride, the stage you just left was "flat" and you realized that was very nice. And for a few miles of stage 4 it is, until you bomb down into the valley. You have to come back out, and they waste little time having you climb your way out.

But now your legs are failing you. I notice for the first time this ride I'm starting to get leg cramps. It starts in my quads just about the knees, but quickly starts going to the inside of my leg. This is not comfortable in case you were wondering. The only thing you can do is try to stretch on the bike, which is possible but not all that effective in the long run because you'll end up in the same compact position again so it'll all happen again. But if you can tough it out and block out the pain, eventually the cramp does "flush" itself out. So you slug down some water and keep spinning and try to do just that: block out yet another thing that hurts.

This course is end loaded, and if you think the hills are bad in stages 1-3, they fail in comparison to the monsters that lurk in stages 4 and 5. We are assaulted time after time on this stage, and all you do is climb.

And you're completely alone. Most people drop out in stage 4. They either don't start it, or only get a few miles into it and succumb to one of the first climbs you get too. All I do this year is put my head down and churn away. It is painful, it isn't all that fun, and I'd rather be somewhere, anywhere, else just then. Climb after climb, cramp after cramp, the miles very slowly churn by. And after almost 3 hours, those 34 miles or so are gone, and I'm coasting down the road to the rest stop aptly name "The Graveyard". I pull in, put down my bike, and find a shady spot to lay down in. The hardest part of the ride is over and I somehow survived it. And I distinctly remember one thing while lying there:

I'm smiling, because I know that this year I got this.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter