I thought I had a theory going this AM. The worse you feel in the morning, the better your race goes. I woke up feeling totally exhausted, nauseated, and my head was full of mucus. ‘It’s going to be a tough day,” I thought as I slogged through the morning routine and once again, was barely able to stomach a piece of bread and an egg despite great effort with my plate. Today was also the coldest morning at a whopping 39F at the start.
Oddly enough, I felt great at the start. Like, the best I’ve felt the whole race so far! I held back at the start to be safe, and then let it rip. I ripped through the first 20 miles of the course with ease and was having a blast while doing it. My partner was happy too because he got to rip it as well instead of being stuck behind me. Vomit Hill? Pshaw, no problem.
Stage 4 video:
We came through Aide 2 in a little under 2 hours and had the longest climb of the race in front of us. There was a huge difference in the way I looked between Aide 2 and Aide 3. Thanks for the pic, Yuki!
We went into the climb fast and furious. I felt good and was spinning the big ring. Max Tamm has been having mechanicals early in the race. For those of you who don’t know, Max Tamm is a very talented young pro rider. He came around us on the climb and I thought, “I’m feeling good, I’m going to grab his wheel and hold it for as long as I can. Why not?” STUPID SONYA. STUPID EGO. STUPID IDEA.
I was able to hang on for a little while, and even after he pulled away, I kept pushing hard to maintain a steady distance. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know what came over me. When he was out of sight, I slowed down to a reasonable pace and kept going. A handful of matches torched. Then mistake number 2 was made. The Duo Open Men 2nd place guys came by us. They are from Switzerland (I think) and I thought, “I want to hang with these guys.” So what did I do? I grabbed their wheel and ended up turning myself inside out to hang. STUPID. There was no reason to do that. And then I blew sky high. I thought I’d be ok if I backed off for a little while, but I never came back.
To make matters worse, I was overly ambitious with my fueling and took in too much sugar and too little water. 6 gels, 24 oz of water, and 24 oz of drink is a fail in a 1-1.5 hour time period is no bueno in the heat for me. I have been there before. My stomach started churning and I was nauseated. Too…much… sugar. My vision started to blur – dehydration from not enough water to process the sugar in my gut. I told Jeff, “I am hurting bad. I am in trouble, but I’m going to do my best to get through this.” You can imagine what happened next. My speed went down by quite a lot. The Colorado Trail was no longer fun… it was punishing and beating me up. Suddenly Mike McCormack’s analogy of the course from the night before became a reality – “it’s like a snarling dog that will not stop coming at you.” I was pedaling squares and groaning in pain, swaying side to side on my bike, and searching for Aide 3. We finally got there, and I was totally out of it. One of my friends was working the aide station and filled my water bottle herself and I did not even recognize her. I said, “That girl is filling my bottle right now.” I took some gels and 2 full bottles of water. I downed the bottle of water quickly, and started nursing the gels and 2nd bottle of water. We had 7 miles to go, but it felt like an eternity, and we had a couple more beastly climbs waiting patiently for our arrival, climbs in previous days I would have balked at and ridden strong to the finish. This time, I was barely turning it over and was demoralized to leaning over my bike trying to walk. “Keep moving forward. Don’t give up. Harden the fuck up. You’re almost there. Stop complaining. You’ll live.” were all things I told myself. My stomach was in bad shape. I started heaving into my mouth a little bit. It wasn’t bad… just tasted like gel and there wasn’t a lot of volume so… (if you’re eating back away), I swallowed it. I was in hell. I danced with the devil during the first 20 miles of the race, and he dumped me into the fire.
Poor Jeff Kerkove. He is the strong, silent type… never having a problem, riding whatever speed I choose to go, and dealing with going slow when I fall to pieces. Best partner ever.
“A few more miles” I was so frustrated that again, I felt the tears welling up and felt myself weaken. “NO. Use this energy.” and that I did – I transferred it to the pedals, and then I got angry. I told Jeff, “I am operating purely off anger and frustration.” I was groaning again in pain, snarling and drooling. Not a pretty sight. The last section of singletrack seemed to go on forever. I said, “Normally I’d love this piece of trail, but today I just want it to be over.” We rolled into the finish. I didn’t finish with a smile. I rolled across the line, dismounted, and couldn’t stand up.
I look like I have a shifted toupe. Sweet helmet hair… Thanks to Sarai Snyder for all the great photos!
After awhile, I gathered myself, sauntered to the tent, and ate the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches totally out of it. That goes to show you that it’s easy to go from being on top of the world to in survival mode. We got back to the condo and I went straight to my bed to lay down… in my gross bike shorts and wet socks. I finally motivated to get in the shower, and was sulking. DRAMA QUEEN!!! It could have been worse!
We still won by 20 minutes today, but Team Eriksen had some mechanical issues. We are now up 1:02 in the GC. Tomorrow, in my opinion, is the hardest stage. I better get some rest and ride smart tomorrow.