Tuesday, June 23, 2009

High Uintas aka Hypothermia Classic

"That's the coldest I've ever been on a bike", that was the content of the email I sent Dug, Sam, Jon, and Tyler after the AF canyon ride early Friday morning. Little did I know that it was nothing more severe than a warm precurser to what was about to happen the next morning at the High Uintas Classic.

Worst break of the day: Had held off on pre-registration for the sole purpose of watching the weather, go figure. So Adam, Sam and I pull in and I walk up to the day of registration table and turns out I'm there just in time, or rather just too early. They've got one cat 5 number left, and I was the lucky fool who got it.

The biggest topic of discussion pre race was what to wear, like a bunch of girls getting ready for their first high school dance, only a bunch of middle age men in lycra. The three of us all opted for the same, arm warmers and a vest, with the exception of Sam who also threw on knee warmers. Conditions were actually ideal at the start line. Fun ride for the first 20-25 miles. Typical race flow, with the first selection occuring when the real climbing started. I was not in good form and didn't make it, and would spend the rest of the day by myself for the most part, behind the lead group which Sam made, a small chase group that Adam was in, and ahead of the remaining chase group that wasn't chasing. I wasn't in terrible form, but not real good either. Just one of those days... and would turn into one of those weekends...

There were some positives as the rain started coming down real steady on the way up. First, even in the rain, that is a beautiful ride. Between run off, and the large amount of moisture we've had, the Provo was running fierce, and there were some stunning landscapes. Second, learned I need to revisit the nutrition plan for Leadville. Third, I actually don't mind riding in the rain all that much. Not saying I love it, or even like it, but tolerated it just fine most of the way up with no adverse effects on attitude or pacing.

What I hate is riding in the rain when it's cold. And I didn't realize how cold it would get while climbing. But it came immediately as the climbing effort ended and the speed, and accompanying wind chill that accompany the descent, began at the top. The top comes at about mile 30, and by mile 37 I was concerned about safely controlling the bike, and by mile 38 I was concerned enough to pull over and jump in a truck for a couple of minutes to warm up and get some function back in my body, before finishing. Honestly, was real cold, but had no idea how bad of shape I was in when I got into the truck. 10 minutes after getting in I knew I was abandoning, and 20 minutes after getting in, I was still shaking violently and uncontrollably. I've never been like that before and it was a wierd sensation. There were 3 others in the truck in the same condition. After deciding to abandon, the gracious forest service voluteer whose truck we'd invaded took us down to the mass gathering of hypothermic cyclists at the 47 mile mark, where the buses were at capacity. I learned later that Sam had made it to that point before suffering the same fate, and then had to argue with folks who wanted him to get in the ambulance, which was also at capacity.

Bad A** award goes to Adam: Was still shivering when we got within 5 miles of Evanston, and I see a guy pedaling down the road in a Skull Candy Kit and DNA vest, it could only have been Sam or Adam. As we go by, I look out and confirm it was Adam, who had somehow managed to ride through conditions that had turned me into a cracked and broken man. I can't begin to tell you how tough the guys who finished had to be that day. Adam was 1 of 6 from our start time, 44 of us abandoned.

200 in the hospital with hypothermia was one report, and can assure you there were plenty more in the same condition not in that number. It was quite the site at the finish area.

Not sure if I was to the point of hypothermia, but if that wasn't it, that's as close as I ever want to get.

Wish I could say the weekend got better for me. TT was the next morning, similar cold, rainy conditions. I actually felt a little stronger for the 4 miles I rode before flatting. Makes for a long walk back in cycling shoes and in the cold rain, and in a dejected/pissed off mental state. Tried to stay a little positive by hollering encouragement to riders going by, and tried to learn some things in regards to form by watching the fast guys closely. But it was still a long walk. About 150 yards out from the finish, the organizers saw me hoofing it and sent a truck to pick me up, it was almost an insult at that point. So, scorecard now reads 1 abandon, 1 DNF, and one flat tubular, which effectively doubles the cost of this great time.

Weather for the crit later that afternoon was actually really good, and the course was really fun. And despite the sluggish state I was in, I was going to ride it and at least finish 1 of the 3 stages of the dang race. I was off the back by a gap I wasn't going to make up by lap two, and was resigned to just ride as hard as I could through the finish and avoid a sweep of DNF's. That mentality lasted one more lap, until that same pssst sound that had ended the mornings TT effort became apparent with each rotation of the back tire again. Unbelievable, it was happening again! As luck would have it, the leak stopped with enough air in the tire to keep the rim safe, and I rode the last three laps fairly gingerly on the corners to keep from rolling the semi flat tire, and I finally made it across a finish line for the weekend. Yep, that was the highlight... one of those weekends... that I hope I never have again.


vh1 said...

I have chosen not to write about that day as I get cold just thinking about it. I think you also get the badass award for attempting the Sunday stages. I was curled up in a down blanket with a hot pad between my legs

eber said...

"the third chase group that wasn't chasing" - very funny.

on the TT, were your words of encouragement somerhing like "LOOKING STRONG...jackass [under your breath]"?

evilbanks said...

point is you showed up to the other stages, I would have said "fuck it, I tried" and put my feet up for the rest of the weekend. I agree with sam, you also get the badass award.
You need some White Pine action today with weather in the 70's in the canyon and NO RAIN. Pick you up at the office at 4:15?

Ski Bike Junkie said...

So far this year in the UCA series, we've had Hell of the North (at least as nasty, just not as long), Antelope Island (nearly as nasty, not quite as cold or long), and now High Uintas. Funny thing is that Steve and I originally planned to ride High Uintas but decided to skip in favor of Little Mountain. In hindsight, it was our best decision all year. No hypothermia and Steve gets to wear the State Champion jersey all season.