Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Heatstroke/Windburn 100

After having a slab of bacon and a wheel of cheese for breakfast, washed down with a couple of icy cold Tabs, I set off with Deanna at the ungodly hour of 5AM so that we can drop Kona off at my mom’s and get up to WI in time to get an early start on the Heatstroke 100 ride. I tell Deanna about my new laissez faire attitude and my determination to stick to toxic and/or carcinogenic foods and behaviors, and she is in full agreement. She even offers helpful suggestions, that I should start swimming at Illinois Beach State Park, with its asbestos-laden beaches, and that since “mold is the new asbestos”, she’ll keep an eye out for moldy sub-basements that I can do speed workouts in. I am touched by her largesse – and feel truly blessed to have friends like this.

This is unlike my friend Motria, who, when I tell her I’m waiting for my shipping container of DDT to come in so that I can take care of those damn earwigs once and for all, has to inform me that DDT is for mosquitos, nothing else. Well. Thanks for bursting my bubble there. No matter though – I figure if I spray enough of the stuff it’ll kill everything, leaving my precious eggplants and peppers in a beautiful, lush, albeit chemically-laden state. And sure, it’ll probably kill all the bees and butterflies and everything else I try to attract to my garden, and the DDT will work its way through the ecosystem like it did in the 70s and eventually wind up thinning the eggs of bald eagles and other birds such that they don’t hatch – but why should that be MY problem? I have to think about me now, after all.

Speaking of gardens, I’ve been attempting to grow garlic in my garden, as a legacy to my dad who I believe smuggled the little bulbs over from Ukraine and who had them in the garden in the old house. So when the house was sold, I dug a bunch up, planted them in my garden here, and hoped they’d sprout. Well, I can now say that garlic gives truth to that saying that “a weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place.” The damn stuff comes up everywhere – it’s like the Borg, there’s no stopping it. But I could never figure out where the actual cloves come from. There are green sprouts that form these little bulbs at the top – what the heck are those? So my gardening tomato friends have just informed that me that I should snip those off so that the cloves can grow underground. Which I did – but now that I have these top bulbs, which smell nice and garlicky and can be used in salads, I’m not sure what to do with them. Garlic has all sorts of wonderful healthy properties, dammit, and that just goes against everything I now stand for. Maybe I’ll dip them in batter and deep fry them. Yeah, that’s it.

It also just occurs to me that maybe Deanna is to blame for my woes – after all, she’s the one who introduced me to the wonders of EZ cheese last year when she bought it as a post-race snack at Pleasant Prairie. (Where, I note, in a miracle that stunned the world, the most unlikely team of all - Team STD - won third place in the relay. I will cherish that medal forever. Btw, Team STD = Susan, Tasha, Deanna.) Anyway – if a brightly fluorescent, highly processed “cheese food” sprayed out of an aerosol can isn’t simply Cancer-in-a-Can, then I don’t know what is.

Where was I? Oh yes, the ride. To sum it up in a single word: the most miserable ride I’ve ever been on. Or definitely Top 5. The hills would have been okay, and I could deal with the crazy pelotons of too-cool people who continued passing others on a very busy street, almost causing car collisions – but what I couldn’t handle were the sustained 35 mph winds the ENTIRE DAMN WAY! Seriously. It kept getting windier as the day went on, with the wind shifting such that other than about a 4 minute stretch of tailwinds, it was all headwind and crosswind, so strong they almost blew us off the road. It’s not often – and thank god for that – that one will be going downhill and hitting a “speedy” 6 mph. All while out in the middle of nowhere, i.e. no shortcuts back to our starting point. The entire time I’m riding, I have a song from Wicked going through my head and directed at the ride: “loathing.....unadulterated loathing...”

Afterwards, all the other riders we saw had expressions of horror on their faces similar to ours, muttering “the wind.......that damn wind.....” I’ve never been so happy to finish a ride in my life – even the Dairyland Dare looks good in comparison, and that’s 10 and a half hours of climbing. And while the ride organizers did a good job overall, even with the tiny hieroglyphic markings that signified turns that got me lost just once, I remain bitter over the fact that the purported 74 mile route turned out to be closer to 78. Considering the speed at which I was going at that point, each mile was an eternity. In retrospect, I should have followed Deanna’s original advice, that I might want to just ride to the Dairy Queen 2 blocks from the start and “see how that goes” before venturing any further. Had I done that, I might have come to my senses and avoided the whole hellish day. Lesson learned.

On the bright side, I was so exhausted after this ride that when I called a friend last night to tell her about the Big C, I could relay the info without tearing up, which was a first. So I’m thinking the whole “ride-5:30-every-day” concept might become a strategy for me in the near future. Deanna is now dedicatedly emailing me info for rides like the “Windy 60” and “Crazy Gusty 95”, so I should have noooo problem whatsoever finding rides to keep me occupied. Lucky me. Deanna also asked me what I’m doing about my swim training now (she’s always working such things sneakily into conversation, hoping I’ll drop a nugget or two of training wisdom that she can glom onto and use to improve upon her own piddly 20 hrs/week plan) – and I was feeling charitable so I told her that I’ve upped my dryland training significantly. I’ve doubled it, essentially, so I’m confident that those 10 minutes a day will have me in peak form for my upcoming races. I know, the dedication is mind-boggling. I repeat – do NOT try this at home. I will not be responsible for your injuries.

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