Friday, May 22, 2009

Panoche 09 "Race to HELL and back"

Steve Heaton M35+ 123

Two months ago I dislocated my should chipping the bone around my socket area, ripped, stretched and tore other stuff. surface pain is gone and what's now left is a stiff and limited moving shoulder/arm. However I can ride a bike and feel like I have control over my actions so I decided to race. All I wanted to do was not get dropped and if so at least on the way back not before (you know it's a mental thing).

The pace was smooth tempo - 35mins into it I felt like crap, but once I added my warm up time to it I always feel like crap 50-55mins of riding as this is the turning point to being ready to get it on. Once I sensed the climb was coming I moved into position! Yes about 5 back ready for action. I had no problem holding my position once the pace picked up and my confidence was rising with the climb. At feed I picked a bottle and notice I have already finish 2 big bottles of fluid (these were frozen bottles that melted within 40mins) pulled my third frozen bottle out of back pocket that kept me a bit cool and my gels as well. Anyway, once on flats around mile 25 into it I went to the front to find my groove when all the sudden I started to feel a twinge.......I looked at my arm and it was dry? Shizt I'm starting to cramp - I can't let anyone see my weakness. I dropped back and WHAM full blown leg lock (I dropped myself) and I'm fading back. I can't believe 1:15mins into the race feeling great and I'm having a major cramp? Now I'm super pissed (pack is now 40m out) and I sprint back on recover make the left turn that goes flat for a couple of miles then a short punchy climb up and over to turn around. All the sudden a slowing of the pace, I look up and the break has gone and the selection is made with all 3 teams represented. FUuuc I have to go if I want a chance at it. I sprint from the back bringing 1 guy with me, we rotate for a few minutes within 10m from break WHAM cramp is back (I yelled to the guy behind me to jump I'm cramping) he makes it and when I looked back we had a monster of a gap so one again I sprinted back on to the break only to get asked for some help in pulling....(I'm thinking RIGHT I'm hanging on working out my cramping issue) then a few minutes later as we approached the climb 2 guys are talking? Shizt they are going to attack.........Yeeep (bye bye). Now I'm the chase in "no mans land" I held the pedal to the metal in hopes of making it back over after the turn around before the group behind so I would have someone to hide behind on the way back. On the return climb I get passed by 2 sets of 2 riders but I was getting it together a bit and was able to keep them within 50m and thought if I can hold this to the top I could attempt another one of my HAIL MARY sprints to catch back on to the new chase group and Walllaaa - baby I'm back! now on the flats for a little recovery riding( so I thought). Only we had 3 guys out of 6 that had team representation in the break of 4 ahead so they did nothing but mess up the pace causing me to feel obligated to do my share of the work only to get dropped by tactics I know better than to let happen but feeling a bit limited I wilted as I ran out sprints for the moment (31miles to finish). I held 23-24mph for a few miles holding the gap at around 200m only to have them pull away going into the climb back. I turned around and the pack was waaay back. I decided to put my Mtn biking TT skills to work and charge on in hopes of picking off blown riders. That I did!

I ran out of water with 2miles to top of climb (bottle feed) and started to slow. I can't believe how hot it is! Like - 4 peckered billy goat in heat on a south facing rocky cliff in August. At one point I had 2 flies buzzzzing my face~~~I'm going to slow so I picked it up a bit only to feel the sensation of being in a sauna with someone pulling a wool blanket over me. My feet felt like I fell a sleep by a camp fire with them in the fire pit. I wanted to stop so bad but what would I do? stand in the hot sun on the side of the road looking like a jackass sizzling in the 100deg+ sun. Once I reached the feel and got water I started to get it together. 20 miles to go then 13 to go I ran out of water and was suffering in the head wind. I looked back 1/2 mile and 2 guys are coming that I dropped earlier. I sat up fully recovered in case they wanted to attack me. I was offered a wheel and off we went. 10miles to go one of the guys accelerates on a rise and drops the other guy. I'm thinking all I want to do is get this over with and he wants to play. I made him pull all the climbs so I could have the juice to hold on if he gets any ideas. Then I was fantasizing of cars pulling up to me and handing me water bottles but none of them did and it was starting to frustrate me? I thought of asking the guy I was with for water but I hadn't seen him take a drink the whole time? when i would drop my head from being so tired and delirious I would see my empty bottles and had to toss then in frustration of them reminding me of being out of water for a long time ended up being a total of hour without water. 2k to finish and now this guy isn't going to pull through for anything. I noticed he ain't no sprinter! All I need to do is get within 100m and I can take him from the front head wind and all (I'm a sprinter and a sprinter always has a jump) Guess what? I jumped - he dropped anchor and was able to sit up show my number and blast off the the car to dive into my ice chest. 8th according to the pre-results haven't seen final.

Let's recap the high lights!

Almost 40miles to finish I started a series of cramps, made the break, became the chase all while getting dropped 5 times having to sprint, climb, attack and TT all the way back chasing the chase and break away. Flies hoovering around my face, ran out of water, got a great tan, paid my dues, feeling like a took a few years off my life. 3:22mins of pure hot pleasure I hope I never experience again. Overall I'm glad I did it and my shoulder feels fine. Pescadero here I come!


Satin Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Satin Matt said...

Wow, what an epic race report!

You were posted as finishing 9th out of 21 finishers on the Panoche Death March (M35+ 1/2/3).

You were also listed as being sponsored, in part, by Frenchy's. The Frenchy's? Do you get a discount? Just asking...

Jim Langley said...

Wow, I'm so glad I wasn't out there. Sounds brutal. Incredible job finishing top ten on such a grueling day. You deserve some ice cream and maybe some surfing to cool you off for a long time to come. Have a great race at Pescadero where it'll be much cooler, I bet.