12 Hours Before the Race

In 12 hours (i.e., midnight tonight), the Kokopelli Trail Ride begins. Here are the things that I am thinking about.

Is It OK for a Man to Cry at a Bike Shop?
Yesterday afternoon, I went to Racer’s Cycle Service to pick up The Weapon of Choice (currently outfitted with a suspension fork, by the way — I’m not ready to do this race on a fully rigid bike).

Racer wheeled out the bike, and I immediately noticed something different: a pink Chris King Pretty and Strong headset. Evidently, Fish (we call him Fish because his real name is practically impossible to pronounce) — a guy who worked his way through law school at bike shops — put this on for me as a surprise gift.

I got all choked up. In fact, I’m getting all choked up again right now. I tell you what: I’ve got the best friends there have ever been, in the history of ever. Fish, thanks very much.

The Future
Whenever I’m about to start a race, I find myself thinking about what I’ll be doing exactly one day from that moment. One day from this moment, for example, I will probably be starting the climb up to Beaver Mesa. It’s about a nine-mile climb, if I remember correctly. I’ll be very hot and tired, and will be sick of eating Shot Bloks. I’ll probably be questioning, out loud, why I thought it was a good idea to do this race.

I will also be listening to War and Peace on my iPod. Really. An epic ride deserves an epic story.

A few weeks ago, I was staggered at how many of my friends were going to be doing this race with me. Here is the race status of these friends at this moment:

  • Rick Sunderlage (not his real name): After cramping up on the White Rim, Rick began to question whether he should do the KTR. Eventually, he came to the conclusion he shouldn’t. I maintain that he should. I grade his bailout with a D+.
  • Dug: Dug was never really in, so I can’t say he dropped out. He was, however, briefly hopeful he could make it work. Turns out he needs to watch his kids play soccer that morning. Bailout grade: C.
  • Brad: Brad was in until yesterday morning, when he said he had to choose between either doing this race or the Cascade Creampuff. Since he did the Creampuff last year while he’s never tried anything of the magnitude of the KTR, I assert he made the wrong choice: it’s like choosing to see a movie you’ve already seen over a new, more exciting movie, just because you’ve already paid for the tickets to see that movie you’ve seen once before. Bailout grade: B-
  • BotchedExperiment: A few days ago, Botched broke out into a painful rash wherever he had applied sunscreen during the White Rim ride. He says it feels just like poison ivy, and he is on all kinds of drugs to reduce swelling and fight pain. Providing this is true, I consider this a valid excuse. Plus, he’s still coming on the trip and acting as the guy who brings the car from the starting point to the finish line. Bailout grade: A
  • Kenny: Kenny’s in. Of course Kenny’s in. I will see him at the starting line and at the finish line. That’s pretty much the way it is when you have a fast guy for a friend.

So I’ll be riding this 142-mile MTB race in the middle of nowhere by myself. And you know what? I’m very excited to be riding it that way. I’ve been needing some time to myself to think, and this ride will give that to me in spades.

Oh, and also — when I am not listening to War and Peace — I will use some of my Solitude time to listen to lots of Cake.

One thing about a race: I always get nervous. Always. Even when it’s a race where my sole objective is to complete (I honestly have no goal for a finishing time), I still get very nervous. I’m nervous right now.

And when I’m very nervous, I go to the bathroom a lot. Which, it turns out, is a very useful reaction. Cuz once you’ve started a race, it’s nice to um, have already gotten everything out of your system.

My Panic List
Long (weeks, usually) before I do any race, I start thinking about the stuff I ought to have with me at the race. Realizing my brain is middle-aged, I no longer try to keep that list of stuff in my head. Instead, I just keep a running list, which I check off as I pack.

I call this my “Panic List.”

Here is what is on my list for this trip. The “to get” list is stuff that I still need to buy. The “to bring” list is stuff I need to pack:

TO GET: Water,  Money, Duct tape, Batteries

TO BRING: Shot bloks, Jacket, Honey Stinger Bars, Camelbak bladders (2), Filter, Lights, Extra batteries for lights, multitool, shorts, jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers. helmet, socks, shoes, gloves, glasses, lube, tubes, air cartridges, iPods, GPS, bottles (2), Camelbak, duct tape on seat tube, sunscreen, money, phone

Yeah, knee warmers is on the list. What’s it to ya?

What Did I Forget?
So, here’s a question: What should I have brought that I didn’t? If you list it and it turns out I wish I had it, I’ll acknowledge it in my race report.

OK, it’s 12:08 — just after noon — now. Twelve hours from now I’ll be eight minutes into the race.

Twenty four hours from now, I’ll still be climbing up toward Beaver Mesa, probably staring at that awesome pink headset.

PS: Today’s weight: 157.0

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