--The natural processes of the human body are a strange and wonderful thing. And while I’m no physiology expert, I can appreciate the simpler processes. The flow of energy seems an obvious pathway. Though certainly complex, it makes sense on a superficial basis -- in goes the food and drink, and out comes the waste products. In between is where the magic happens that makes us go fast.
In terms of my past successes and failures, I’d say there hasn’t been one time that I’ve reflected on anything that wasn’t on the consumptive end of that routine. Either it was that I ate and drank enough and had a great day, or I’d forgotten to eat and bonked or hadn’t carried enough water and cramped. For each result, my race day lives and dies on the fuel in the tank so to speak. But recently there was a story from this year’s Tour of Qatar, about Heinrich Haussler stopping to piss on the side of the road. The race continued on without him and, like it or not, he lost the race lead. Reports at the end of the day about who did what and which teams raced unfairly were confusing, but in the end, nature’s call cost him dearly.
One of our Competitive Cyclist crew paid dearly at Rouge-Roubaix this spring down in the great state of Louisiana. HIs race report started out like normal, ‘I was feeling good. My legs were good blah, blah, blah.’ But at mile 60, and after an hour’s worth of feeling his bladder expand like a rubber hot-water bag blown up by one of those guys from motivational teams of tough men who visit junior highs, he decided to pull over and go for it. His stop came at a crucial point of the race, at the base of one of Rouge’s nastiest dirt climbs. People were already falling off bikes and walking up the hill at the front of the race, so in that instant, he decided it to be an opportune time to relieve himself and that he’d be able to get right back on without being clogged by those struggling at the base of the climb.
Well, if you’ve ever been really drunk and have found yourself wizzing on the side of a building in a downtown area when you spied a police car heading your direction, you’ll know how difficult it is to halt the flow once you’ve opened the flood gates. That’s where our unfortunate friend found himself. While in no danger with the law, he could only watch the sickening disappearance of the entire race up and over the torturous gravel climb. At the end of the day, it wasn’t what went in the tank that mattered, but what came out.
So while the differences between the fat-tired and skinny-tired events are compound, a piss break during a marathon length mountain bike event might not be so disastrous. In the very least, it won’t be a moral destroying atom bomb, like watching a road race go away. But the way our MTB events unfold, it ain’t over ’til it’s over (or so they say). So we eat, drink, hammer down, and sometimes we take a leak on the long days. All the while we try to catch the dudes that got away on the first climb of the day, hoping that they burnt all their matches and are lying trailside in the leaves ahead, confused, hungry, and unconscious if we’re lucky.
Recently, at the Ouachita Challenge 60 mile event in Oden, Arkansas, the bomb got triggered when they said go, so I was riding by myself after a few miles of singletrack. There were plenty of riders ahead, and I knew some folks weren’t too far behind. The issue at Ouachita Challenge is Blowout Mountain. It’s the one section of the trail that you don’t want to get clogged behind those who can’t ride the boulder gardens. So after a climb up and over Big Brushy Mountain, the first big challenge of the day, I’d hoped to eat on the roll and overtake as many folks as possible before the rocky stuff of Blowout. But it was not to be. I’d been fighting the urge to take a wiz for a long while, and it was affecting my concentration.
Unfortunately, the body will tell us what it wants, when it wants. And sometimes we can get away with some flexibility to schedule our ‘exports’. On that day, I submitted to natures call and pulled over to piss as I watched about 20 riders come by on their way up the trail to Blowout Mtn. Needless to say, there was a clog in the hard stuff and I was behind it. It made me realize I need to get a bit faster up the hills so I can be better placed from the start of the race and be able to ride with folks that can ride technical terrain. But the day went well otherwise. And from a metabolic standpoint, I didn’t let myself ever get hungry, didn’t bonk, and finished as high up as possible. The leaders were all showered and fed, lounging in the sun by the time I crossed the finish line. But that didn’t matter. A finish, though well down the rankings, was something to be proud of. And it also didn’t matter that I took a leak twice during the event. I wish I could’ve timed the first pit stop better, but what can you do?
--Like a clan of cave bears, a group of local riders has awakened from their winter slumber to descend upon and attack our local dirt jump park. It’s pretty awesome to see these guys spring into action and get things shaped up. We’ve found that dirt jumps are a heck of a lot more work than we thought they’d be, and ours had fallen into a state of disrepair after an unseasonably long period of fall and winter rains. But the momentum is back (all those guys were tired of riding street all the time) and there are a few new faces as well. It’s great to see some young dudes come check it out and come back again and again, eager to dig and have fun. One local kid is already pushing his limits and recently tried to break up some dirt clods with his face. His parents didn’t even tell him to quit coming after that. They ordered him a full face helmet and got him a nice bike. Bravo!
--Speaking of helmets…it looks like Danny Macaskill will be shedding his lightweight roadie lid for something a bit more substantial, as he’s partnered up with POC. In what looks like a great deal for both parties, he’ll continue to do what he does best -- ride like no other and blow people’s minds with his crazy riding style.