That's Next-To-Last Frucking Reprot. About races this year, anyway.
The real subject: my second Lo-to-Ja.
I was pretty psyched this year, knowing that I can definitely finish a 203-mile race. Perhaps a little cocky.
Drove down to Logan on Friday night, and I even got a room in town since there wasn't a home (Utah State) football game this year. Me and my soigneur, Peter-from-the-pool. Saw eight Idaho state troopers on the way down, but didn't stop to talk to any of them. Maybe they were out looking for lions? Does everybody know about the private game farm near Lava Hot Springs (site of the Lava Rama) which had about a dozen grown African lions beat up the owners and escape from their chicken-wire enclosure? Wild, wacky Idaho stuff.
Slept not as well as a rock on the rock-like Super 8 bed. But at the special bike-race rate, who's complaining? Well, I was, in the morning. But there was a bike race to go to, so I shut up eventually. Hooked up with Super Dave and his support crew/semi-ex-girlfriend and headed over to Sunrise Cyclery, except that it was well before sunrise. Seemed warmer than last year, though a bank thermometer claimed 40 degrees. There seemed to be not as many people as last year, either. We 4/5s got to ride with the women; there were 26 of us and about 5 of them - this was the largest pack. I admonish Peter not to have too much fun with my car.
Off we went, toodling along. As usual, there were a couple of little valleys we rode down into that contained absolutely frigid air. The pace seemed slower than last year with the citizens. At about 40 miles, I stopped at the top of a hill for a long pee stop and had to chase for a while to get back on, while Super Dave successfully completed his first rolling urination. Point for Super Dave. When I caught back up to the pack, they were again rolling along at a very slow pace. This continued through the first two feed zones, nobody really attacked or anything. Okay, so there were 100 miles left, but isn't someone that stupid? Well, I was for a bit as I just got sick of it and took a little flyer. Not a very serious one, lasted maybe five minutes. I heard later that there was a 1/2 who took off before the first feed zone (at 66 miles) and stayed away a long time, but ended up second.
Before the only major climb I decided to drop my jacket at the preceding feed zone. So I dropped back to take off the jacket, and I was last through the feed zone. Meanwhile, everybody else took off immediately to attack up the climb. So I was screwed. I climbed by myself, passing Super Dave and a couple others. Then on the downhill I was really working, trying to chase back onto the pack. I picked up a couple guys, including one that I pulled around at Districts. They didn't want to work at all, so I did most of the pulling as we did catch a pack, not the lead pack. This pack was not interested in going fast. After a few hard pulls I found myself alone with two other guys. Oh, and a nice stomach cramp from eating a whole PowerBar too fast right before the climb and then hammering on the way down. Also I was starting to get a little tired, at about 130-140 miles.
So then we turn north onto US 89, a minute and a half behind the leaders, who we can see off ahead of us. Into an evil headwind, and we immediately start losing time because we are all kind of cooked. My stomach cramp is not getting any better. More of a diaphragm cramp, it's a little hard to breathe. This sucks a lot. One guy catches up and we go a little faster, but the pack is long gone. I am in danger of getting dropped after each pull. We limp through Alpine and start up the canyon to Jackson. I get dropped, they stop to pee and I ride by, they catch up and I drop again. Not fun.
Riding slowly along by myself, I take advantage of a downhill to remove my leg warmers and thermal socks - without stopping! Woo hoo! First time! Boy, that was exciting. It's now around 3pm, and I wonder if I will make it to Jackson in under 10 hours. Before the pack splintered I made a snide comment to Super Dave that at that rate nobody was going to break 10. The last feed zone, at Hoback Junction, and I stop to hand Peter my legwarmers and bitch about my stomach cramp. As I start riding again I see a group coming up to the feed zone, and figure they will catch me after a bit.
Well, it takes about five miles, and I catch a 2 who had flatted, but they catch me. It's Super Dave! Give him another point for persistence. But none of the chase pack I splintered seems to be in this group, strangely. Dave says they just didn't want to come along. I drop in line and suck wheel for while. We go through Jackson, and out towards Teton Village. I'm just grinding along, feeling pretty sorry for myself. About a two miles to go, and I wonder I will feel at all like sprinting at the finish. That question is answered when I get dropped as they pick up the pace for the last mile.
I grind across the finish alone again, and stop my clock at 9:59'54", two seconds faster than last year. Which pretty much bites. Not the best strategic race, but I'm only a stupid Cat 5, right?
I lie on the ground for a while hoping my cramp will go away, but it only slowly fades. We go back into Jackson for some gas, and by then I feel better enough to drive home. On the way back toward the Teton Village junction, we see the Weatherstons. Dave said he started wobbling so badly he was afraid he was going to get run over - and the Jackson police wouldn't direct traffic for us because they tried to stop traffic for an ambulance about a month ago, and some car ran into the ambulance!
Get home, crawl into bed.
The next day, drive back over to Jackson for the results. I got 16th out of 26 4/5s, the largest field. Money to 10 places for all licensed men's fields. In two-dollar bills. Plus Makita power tools to the top two in several classes. Three 3's get money for times slower than mine - officially, 9:59'52", four seconds faster than last year. The fastest time is 8:40', fastest tandem 9:23' with a 10' penalty for running a red light in Soda Springs. One master dq'd for hanging on to a support vehicle. Keychains are flung to the crowd, and that's all I come away with. Apart from the fortified character of having once again ridden 203 miles in under ten hours, that is.