Saturday’s Prouty was fantastic*. Astride our 42×16 Langsters, Matt, Grampie and I departed around 6:30AM under perfectly partly cloudy skies. Sarah Crane was along as well, although with a full complement of gears and aero bars, we wouldn’t see much of her. Also she is jacked, so we wouldn’t see much of her.
Right up until mile 60, everything was great. Hard work, but great. We were splitting up a lot, but we’d rendezvous at every sag stop within minutes of one another. At the top of Mt. Cube, where last year I went on a feeding frenzy, I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. My breakfast of Odwalla OJ and a nearly inedible salt bagel were taking up real estate I had hoped would be clear by now.
Cube to the 50 mile mark was a good romp, for the most part spinning 100rpm and absolutely owning the road. But then somewhere around mile 60, ugh. Oh…..hmmmmm….uh oh. Here comes that feeling. Something isn’t right in the energy department. If you even have a hint of the word ‘bonk’ in your head, I know full well that you’re on the verge of bonking. Basically I screwed up. I had taken HEED and gels, and had been drinking so much HEED that I not only got sick of drinking it, but didn’t feel like keeping up with my 40-minute gel schedule. Big mistake. And a bad time for a big mistake. Time to put the asterisk on fantastic.
Mile 60 through 90 was hell on earth. No shade whatsoever. Completely exposed out on the hot open road heading south along the Connecticut River, hitting a max temperature off the pavement of 103 degrees. Fighting headwind the entire way. Gusting to 35mph. One climb in particular had to be the worst climb I’ve ever had. It was almost pathetic looking. With only one gear to get me home, just mashing – not even mashing, because that implies strength – just plowing along like a dragging anchor. Right up until 10 miles to go, it was misery.
10 to go, and I was in the wrong place. Hell, I was in the wrong place with 20 to go. Just trying to find a way to get back home; somehow figure out how to call up some energy. At the last sag, mile 90, I ate a gel, and it seemed to work this time. That, coupled with the fact that at worst I’d be finished in an hour. Grampie was off well ahead of me, and for the first mile or so, I’d see him in the distance but just couldn’t hang. He was riding inspired today for sure. Probably with 8 to go he disappeared, and I felt a surge of energy. I don’t know where the hell it came from, but I put my head down and was just going for broke. I sort of said “eff it, I’m all in, I hope this works” and just started wailing. I had no idea how long this candle would burn and I didn’t care.
Then, 1 mile to go. I saw that sign and almost cried I was so happy. I hit the final climb at the Chieftain. A lone supporter screamed for me. “GIVE ME SOMETHING!!”. I gave what I had, which wasn’t much. Cresting the hill, for the last half mile I absolutely wringed out every last bit, mouth wide open, hammering all the way to the finish. A look at the metadata from Kristen’s photos shows that I pulled in only 30 seconds behind Grampie, which seems absolutely amazing. He must have been flying as well, as I saw no part of him, save for a glimpse at the bottom of the final climb.
Last year I felt like I owned the Prouty. This year, no doubt – it owned me.
I’m slated to ride Ascutney and Wash back to back this coming weekend, but I’m going to put my eggs into my Wash basket and not do the Saturday race. I only get (maybe) 2 chances a year to do Wash, and the more I think about it, I want to be fresh for both. It’s not so much the effort required for Ascutney that’s putting me off so much as the sleep factor. It would be two super early mornings in a row, and I don’t see that working out in my favor. I don’t think I can do two 5am mornings in a row. Eh, maybe I could, but I guess I don’t want to. It’s been a weird year so far, and I think I’ll need all the help I can get.