Sumter Metric Century: Anybody Got Any Biscuits, Cleats?
When life gives you lemonade, you always smell it to make sure it isn't urine... and so began my inaugural Sumter Metric Century race Saturday morning. Actually, the race started Friday night as Eric and Kelly were in town which meant beers and chips at Yo Burrito, and then cruiser bikes to Speakeasy in Five Points. There we lounged with Gabe from Hawley, drinking and cavorting. Then, as always, the clock showed 1:30-1:45 and it was time to ride home. In bed by 2:30 and then up at 5:30. Christ. Three hours of sleep left me feeling pretty crummy and mildly hung over but there was racing to be done. I skipped breakfast knowing I could pick up an assload of biscuits somewhere on the road. Turning off at the exit towards Lick Fork State Park, I didn't see a biscuit vendor in sight. I kept driving and realized I would go biscuit-less. Damn, a biscuit would've hit the spot. I show up to the race in ratty camo shorts, a soiled button up shirt from the night before and my John Deere cap with coffee stains. Looking like a mentally unstable Vietnam vet, I decide to test the waters and ask those around me in the parking lot if they had any spare food. I think I freaked a couple folk out as they thought I was panhandling for a meal, which I guess I was, but it wasn't because I was broke but because Bojangles are snobs and refuse to move into the sticks. Highbrow snobs. Pfffft. So I go register, take a piss and sit in my car trying to figure out what to eat. Then I look at the huge box full of food purchased by Cane Creek through us and say "Fuck it. I'm crackin' open this muthafuckin' box of chocolate chip Clif bars!" I was hesitant because I didn't want FnG at Creek kicking my ass for eating his food, but as luck would have it, they were Eric's and he's a pussy. So I took two bars, stacked them biscuit-style and slamhammered them down. A pointless riders meeting followed and then it was a Le Mans start to our bikes. I don't run, I barely jog and find walking most unsavory. If it had been socially acceptable, I would've centipeded to my bike but this was a race and breakdancing would have to wait. I got into the conga line and hit the singletrack feeling fine and cherry wine. I caught up to Jonathan LaRoy (registered as Jonathan Lardy) and said hi. He was running what looked like a 34X18 or 16 with skinny-ish tires. I dug the set up and wished I had changed my 20 out to an 18 and traded my 2.2 Racing Ralphs to WTB Vulpines or some reasonable facsimile. Anyhoo, I bid J adieu and rode to the first portion of pavement then on to some dirt and gravel rollers. I was rolling along, spinning furiously and as luck would have it, I caught up to Ross Doswell. I hung back but then figured he'd seen me behind him so I rolled up and had a pleasant chat about stuff, you know, girl stuff. We dumped out onto to some more pavement and grabbed a spot in a fucking paceline (!) to the first checkpoint. Ross and I checked in (mandatory), telling the race officials our numbers and hit the singletrack. A brief bobble allowed Ross to gap me by about 20 yards but I was feeling strong and knew I could catch him whenever. Then after about a mile or two, my pedal felt weird. But it wasn't my pedal, it was my cleat. The cleat came loose and on a climb, my foot shot off the pedal in mid stroke. I thought "Uh oh". I pulled over and started frantically searching for the cleat I had just dumped into the woods. I looked and looked, prayed to Allah, kept looking but it was no use. The cleat was nowhere to be seen. A passing rider (who I would later pass) told me, "Hey, your cleat is in your pedal!". I looked down and there it was, wedged in. I grabbed a rock and started banging on it but it was jammed in there tight. This is where I yelled "Are you fuckin' me? Come on!" and decided to quit the race. Then I came to my senses as I heard Toby's voice, Obi Wan style, saying "If you DNF, you'll regret it. And I also think you're a closet case..." So that was that. I decided to bury myself and ride with one working shoe and a slicker than snot carbon platform on the other foot. I popped out onto a dirt road a few miles before checkpoint two and caught some folks. I asked if anybody had some duct tape to give my pedal something a little sticky to grab onto. A nice fellow had a small square from a sign and put it on for me. I think it fell off 20 feet later but I appreciated the effort. He was a warm fellow who was probably a serial killer in regular life, but today, he was a man of compassion and not somebody who made lampshades out of human ass flesh. The second place womens finisher caught me on some pavement and we worked together as we rode some dirt rollers and then into Modoc. Somehow I dropped her in the singletrack as my left foot kept flying off the pedal Rockettes style, banging my ankle against the crank every time. Then it started to rain and it became impossible to keep the shoe on the pedal so I rode down everything with the left foot either off the pedal or "switchfoot" with my right foot forward which is the complete opposite way I ride and felt very bizarro, like trying to relearn bicycle technique in mid-race. I rolled up on a guy smoking a joint at a fork in the trail and asked him which way do I go. He said something unintelligible, I got impatient and just kept going. Christ, was he a race official? I made it out of Modoc soiled and with a throbbing knee, ankle and taint (from my shoe slipping out on a climb throwing me hard into my saddle. The pain was like a lightning bolt into my nether regions). I rolled into checkpoint three, got some duct tape wrapped around my shoe a little too tight, popped a couple endurolytes just in case and rode the last 15 or so miles to the finish. The rest of the race was uneventful. I figured out that by slamming my toe cleats into the pedal and by keeping my foot pointed down at all times, I could pedal without loosing pedal contact. I did this until my ankle started screaming in pain and then switched over to the pedal, slip, pedal, pedal, slip method. Does the fun ever start? Some more dirt roads and then the last portion of singletrack dumped me out in Lick Fork State Park. I passed some troglodytic freakazoids in pop up campers next to the river and that was all the motivation I needed to finish strong. I rolled in at 5 hours and something, maybe 10 minutes? We started late so my watch couldn't be trusted. Could've easily done sub 5 but 40 miles with one shoe is much harder than most folk make it out to be. Sadly, Ross beat me but I figured he would, unless the serial killer at checkpoint two had chloroformed him and taken him back to his trailer in the woods. I finished second and got my pint glass. I also got two plates full of potato salad, beans and a burger. Then I almost shit my shorts on the way home (and before the race too oddly enough). My gastro-intestinal track was in a tizzy! This was a crazy fucking race for me and was terrible prep for 12 Hours of Tsali. My ankle is fucked, my knee is toast and my bike sounds like it's about to fall apart, but I wouldn't trade the experience in for all the "Cat Fancy" magazines in the world! The End.
Posted by this Hoffen: Kona Lingus on Monday, May 18, 2009