Big Ring Sting

Oh what a relief to have these familiar few seconds of grass and course tape.
Photo: Doug Jansen

Oh Rumpus.

So on Friday night I had this idea that I’d race the Big Ring Rumpus.  In spite of having very little fitness, I figured the three days of workouts last week were a good enough kickstart to make this a sound idea.  
The ‘cyclecross’ field was jam packed with super fast dudes, but I really could have cared – all I wanted was a good wring-it-out-hang-off-the-back fitness builder to get shit going again.  So I jacked up the tubulars to crazyPSI, and off we go.  Super high pressure seemed like a fine idea, providing you missed all possible rock-, stick-, and root-based obstacles, which I generally did.
I’m a late registration so I’m in the second of two fields, all scored together based on time.  First group goes off 1 minute ahead, then my group is off.  I hang off the tail of the field for maybe a mile and then let things settle down = yeah I don’t have it maybe see you later.  It’s a 20 mile race – this will go over an hour – I see dudes settling down ahead, so I’ll chill out for a while and slowly reel some folks in.  Which is happening.  All good.  I cat and mouse with a guy I know for a while.  He seems like he’s fading so I hold his wheel briefly and then take off.  Tons of attrition – dudes walking/running with bikes, tending to mechanicals.
So – I dunno, third lap of five – starts, kids are handing up cups of water and gatorade – as they have been – near the finish area.  I had a bottle of nuun on me but kind of wanted some sugar, so I beeline for this one kid standing to my left holding out a tiny little cup of orange liquid.  Yes.  I want.  
And for some impossible to understand reason, rather than reach with my left hand, I reach across my body for the cup with my right hand.  Which in and of itself is not the worst possible thing that could have happened, but it contributed so let’s keep going.
Instead of holding out the cup in a way that could be easily exchanged, such as the familiar “I pinch the top part so you can grab around the whole cup” exchange method, the kid is actually cupping the cup in his hand.  I reach across for it, there’s really nothing for me to grab so I reach into his grasp, the cup doesn’t leave his hand, this is all happening at speed and it’s MAGIC TIME.
I remember realizing that at a minimum, I’m going to get almost no Gatorade out of this exchange, because the cup is getting smashed in his hand and this is going to make a mess.  Oh and never mind because I am crashing.
Super slow mo, I am now oddly floating over my bike and the top tube seems very sideways and wrong.  I hit the ground, which somehow I felt like it was at least twice, and I just lay there in the middle of the gravely fireroad on top of my bike.  I hear some people running to aid and one guy keeps saying “that looked really bad”.  Really?  I don’t feel that bad.  Liar.  Eh, yeah I do.  Kind of.
I lay there looking upward and put my hands on my head for a few seconds, wondering if I should call it a day.  More seconds pass.  I figure I’ll get up.  I get up, or dudes helped me up, I can’t remember, and I take stock of my bike.  Both shifters are jammed inward at 45 degree angles, won’t pull out, and the rear wheel is locked solid.  Racers are now passing me, asking if I’m ok.  I say “yup”, and then figure BIKE RACE I NEED TO FUCKING GET BACK ON THIS BIKE AND CATCH THEM.  I have no idea why.  
Yeah good luck.  The back wheel won’t even move; the rear brake is jammed, I fuck with it a few times and then magic – back to normal.  Wheel seems reasonably straight.  Front one too.  Good enough.  On bike & we go. Who cares it works.
Whole left arm & shoulder are not feeling too good.  Right leg, I glance down – bloody knee full of gravel.  Awesome that is going to fucking hurt.
Within half a mile I see my friend Jarrad who I was hopscotching with, and I’m suddenly inspired that I’m going to have some amazing comeback where I re-attach to the field that I haven’t seen since mile 2 of the race.  Whatever your imagination needs to keep you going.
I end up passing Jarrad halfway through lap four, who asks me again if I’m ok, and I can’t remember what I said.  Good enough I think I said actually.
I feel pretty good now.  My arm and leg don’t feel pretty good, but that’s their problem because the motor is doing well and I can feel that I’m going to start catching dudes now if I just stay with it.  And I start to do that.
Then.  Then nearing the fourth of five laps, it’s all coming apart very quickly.  Everything is catching up.  Super fast dudes from group one lap me, and I am feeling like mega not good.  Now my leg really hurts.  Actually everything really hurts, including my lower back, and I’m getting this feeling that maybe I really should have stopped after all.  But I’m a dumbass, so of course I didn’t.
One to go, and I have one tick above nothing.  Oh this is familiar bad place feeling, hello friend! Now I feel every fucking pebble in the road.  Dudes are definitely going to catch me now.  I check back and I swear I hear people but can’t see them.  Hey maybe I no you didn’t.  A few dudes pass me, including Jarrad, and the end can’t come soon enough, 1:18 on this bike and I am super toast in the breakdown lane of the offramp to bonk city.
I limp around near the finish – check the results – 24th!  Amazing.  At least 40 started.  Only 28 listed as finishing.  I don’t know where the hell the rest went.  Maybe they’re just gone now.  Who cares!  I feel like VOMITING.  I cut the goodbyes short, don’t even change & hit the road, and then re-enact the shower scene from Psycho in my bathroom, closing the windows first so neighbors can’t hear me yell/scream as I wash debris out my wounds.  HOORAY BIKES maybe we’re back?
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