Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gravel Worlds 2014 - Dolla Dolla Bill Y'all


My visual race recap.
My written race recap begins around mile 100 after the checkpoint at Craig Schmidt's Aunt's and Uncle's. This was my first Gravel Worlds. Really, things had gone pretty well for me up to that point. I had accidentally reset my cyclometer flipping cue sheets and the temps had gotten pretty hot but I was hanging in there. I had ridden 112 miles in the Cornhusker State Games Gravel Grinder so was still within familiar mileage.  I continued to see the same people at most of the checkpoints and oasis's so I knew I was keeping a steady decent pace. Everyone I had encountered doing the race or helping out had been awesome. Shortly after leaving the Schmidt Oasis, a piece of glass, a sharp rock or a small stick-figure devil with the pitchfork sliced the sidewall of my front tire and the tube exploded. Luckily I was slowing down at the time to turn. I quickly discovered there was about a centimeter cut in my side wall. I changed the tube but didn't actually know if I would be able to go on. I've had a lot of flats but never had my tire cut and honestly had no idea what would happen if I tried to ride on it. I changed the tube started riding very slowly. It seemed okay. I was very nervous going downhill for fear that I would get another fast flat and wipe out in the gravel.  Soon fellow Sheclismas, Joy Fischer and Gina Kovanda, caught up with me. I fumbled an explanation about my tire. I was overcome with stress not knowing if I should be riding or not. I slowed way down on descents.  Losing out on the benefit of the momentum from the downhill side of rollers breaks your spirit a little bit each time.  
I guess I choose my postcard wisely.  Its message was needed for both me and my tire.
This was the first point in the race where I felt in over my head. I didn't know if what I was doing was stupid or not. As I continued on toward the winery I had a constant concern about the tire but was able to keep plugging along.  I met up with Joy, Gina, Greg Rosenboom and Jason Berlowitz at the Winery.  I remember saying to Joy, "My tire seems to be holding up but I don't think I am." Insert "cheerleader" icon here.  Joy gave me some words of encouragement. Gina mentioned a dollar bill trick to reinforce the tire wall. Jason announced that he had sort of fixed his rear derailleur which had been having issues throughout the race and for the volunteers to call back in to let PCL HQ know was now back in the race! I had made it 15 miles with the cut tire so far so I decided to just "Proceed With Caution" as I had been doing.  After the winery, I could usually see those four out on the horizon ahead of me and I think they probably kept tabs on me. Finally reaching some pavement before the Hickman convenient store I discovered my tire was pretty messed up by the thump thump thump thump it was doing so I decided I was done. When I got to the Hickman store, I would call Skip, my husband, who had already finished, to pick me up. See next cheerleader icon - the riders and supporters at the convenience store would hear nothing of it.  My defenses were weak and their enthusiasm was contagious.  This is why doing races like this are so special.  Had I been there by myself I would have definitely quit. I went inside and got a drumstick and my Powerball ticket before sitting down outside to "tuck a buck" between the tube and the tire. I found that my tube had begun to pop out through the tear and knew that things probably wouldn't have lasted much longer like that. Some of the riders wished me luck and headed out. 


Dollar bill tire boot.

Once the dollar bill was inserted I headed out from the Hickman convenience store only to be quickly joined by Jason. This is where Team MacGyver was formed. His now three speed and my tire boot limping together to the finish. I am so thankful for him. He tried to make conversation with me (I'm not a good small talker), navigated the rest of the way, and provided bright lights once it got dark.  I knew he wasn't going to let me quit. My text to Skip from Hickman telling him where I was hadn't gone through so with under 10 miles left to go Skip pulled up in the War Wagon after driving the course backward looking for me. He gave me a lot of thumbs up and encouragement. He knew nothing of my tire. He headed back to the finish to wait for us. Team MacGyver arrived 15hrs 25mins after the race started. I was greeted at the finish by the people who had figured so prominently in me getting there.  A perfect end to a very tough day.  I am so deeply proud of my accomplishment. I cannot thank the people around me that last third of the race enough. The encouragement and support was amazing.  And although, I had to actually ride the whole 153 miles myself, I wouldn't have been able to do it without them.  I also knew how proud I would be and how proud Skip would be of me, not just for finishing but for continuing with that jank ass tire.    Badassery achieved again!


This dollar bill saved Gravel Worlds for me.

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