When I visualized my race at Old Pueblo while riding the trainer in my basement or riding the snow bike during the months prior, I saw things transpiring very differently. I visualized myself executing a solid race, one lap at a time, and completing 16 laps sometime before 1:30pm Sunday afternoon. I expected some adversity. I did not foresee having to pull out of the race early as a result of lower back pain. By my 6th lap, the pain in my lower back was shooting down into my legs and I could barely turn the pedals over. It was actually making me nauseous. My race was over only 9 hours into it.
Nearing the end of the run, slowed by the thundering herd, Photo by LW
So what happened? I have been thinking about the “why” since Sunday morning and I can’t put my finger on it. My bike fit has not changed and I rode the exact same bike that I rode last year at OP. My training since Nov 1st has been solid and very, very similar to what I did last year leading up to OP. Could I have stretched more during my training? Sure, but who couldn’t say that? My lower back has been a limiter at times for me in the past but it has never forced me to stop riding. Now I will dig into the issue like a rabid badger and try to address it on a more permanent level. This will not happen to me again.
My Six Laps
The Le Mans start for OP is awesome! It is somewhere between ¼ and a ½ mile long and the chaos at the bike rack is crazy. Most cyclists can’t run ½ mile. Then, people can’t find their bikes. Then, some people find their bikes but can’t ride them because they are in the middle of the thundering herd. I had Michelle hold my bike at the very end of the line of bikes so that I would run farther but when I got to my bike I knew that I would actually be able to ride it.
The carnage on the first two laps was amazing. I saw at least four people get loaded onto stretchers/backboards and too many flat tires to count. I guess when you have 1850 people in a race, the law of averages say that crashes are inevitable. Despite the carnage around me, I was calm and rode at my pre-planned pace.
Did I mention that I LOVE the Old Pueblo course? It is such a contrast to anything else that I get to ride all year that I just enjoy every aspect of it.
From an execution standpoint, my first six laps went very well. Despite 40 mph wind, dropping temps, and sideways rain, I was on pace with my lap times from last year. I stopped after my 5th lap to add my rain layers and prepared myself to battle the elements into the night and once I got “suited up” I was very comfortable. This made the lower back issue especially frustrating because I felt as if I was prepared as well as anyone for the epic weather.
Speaking of wind, can we take a moment of silence for the many, and I mean many, EX-Up tents that died at Old Pueblo this year?
I will have more later on stuff that worked, stuff that didn’t work, and other random post-Old Pueblo thoughts.