Tuesday, March 15, 2016

24 HOP (Continued), The Final Lap

IT'S GO TIME... and I'm excited to finally be a part of this race, (though I've been in the middle of it the whole time). Michelle, Sandrine, and I head out as a team, each of us taking turns at the front, with Sandrine offering much appreciated race advice along the way. I learn a lot from her as we tick off the miles.

It's not long into our lap before we get to the part where we need to choose -- do we tackle my nemesis bitch or follow the sign that reads, "Skip the Bitches"? It's my lap, therefore it's my decision.

Skip. No question. Skip, skip, skip.

The ensuing path is gorgeous, loopy singletrack that progressively gains in elevation and is infinitely cooler than the dull gasline road. Other than the easier opportunities for passing, (which is more difficult on the bypass), I don't know why anyone would choose The Bitches if they had a choice. (Which early riders do not -- since the bypass is prohibited before 3 pm.)

Final lap

Michelle French

The fun continues as we ride through twisty tracks and cactus gardens... really so incredible... and I have to say I enjoyed nearly every single aspect of the race. Of course I'm beat up, sore as hell, and trying to keep my left side off the saddle, but the terrain is gorgeous and I'm having an amazing ride with the girls.

Midway into the ride, what becomes a setback is not any of my injuries but a defective valve on my camelback, which keeps popping off every time I take a drink. Damn. Forced to pull over several times to fix it, my frustration level rising, I come to the conclusion that I'd rather risk dehydration than deal with the stupid camelback.

Another slug of Jack at the Whiskey Tree

For several miles I didn't take a drink... until we got to the Whiskey Tree... hahaha.  I swallowed as much water as I could, topped it off with a slug of Jack Daniels with the girls, and then continued on.

On the final climb I struggled... pain nudged my hip on every-other-pedal-stroke, I was dying of thirst, and where did the air go??? Ah, yes. We were at 5,000 feet. Not super high altitude, but far from sea level, and the air was thin and dry on the climb.

I slowed down considerably, taking a few breaks to catch my breath and drink some water, enormously grateful when we finally got to the top and started to descend the rocky downhill back to the FINISH. (It's on this part of the course that both Sandrine and Michelle each (separately) take a bloody wipeout. Ugh.)

The last mile to the finish line was fun and a race official called out "716!" as I entered the transition tent. Eric was there waiting for us and it's official... we're done.

Yaasssss... done.


We finished 50th of 74 teams, which is fair considering our (4) crashes and injuries and missing one or two early morning laps. Not too bad. I'm not disappointed. We'll beat that next year.

Half our team, EricWilAddie and Shannon finished injury free  -- while MichelleSandrineJennifer and I weren't as lucky -- each of us having a nasty wipeout or crash, going home bloodied, battered, bruised and bandaged.

Still, it was an amazing race -- the camaraderie and fun we shared topped everything -- and I'm so thankful for the experience. I'm excited to return next year and tackle it with more experience behind me!

Time to start working on that.