I was feeling good, the day was perfect. All my preparation was spot on. I was super stoked to be just one of 4000 riders embarking on an epic Autumn journey on (what I hear) what was one of the best days for Iceman and best trail conditions anyone could remember.
I only made it 17 miles in on a 30 mile race. I guess it could have been worse. I could have been that guy at mile 4 puking his guts out. Or the guy that endo'ed two bikes in front of me and taco'd his front rim. Or I could have been that lady I met after my mechanical fail who had broken her collarbone.
It all started at about mile 16.5 with a shifter malfunction. Somehow I pushed my thumb right through the lowest setting and stripped out all the internals. No more rear derailleur shifting. So I stopped and set up what I thought would be a good single speed gearing. Rode about 30 feet, mashed the pedals and popped the chain. Pulled over to fix the chain and broke my chain tool. I tried for a few minutes to repair the chain in a last ditch effort still using the broken chain tool to no avail. My fingers now shaking and covered in black grease and oil. I was there on my knees beside my bike, like a novice surgeon working on my fatally bleeding pet who had just gotten run over by a car. There was nothing I could do, but stand up, feel the sun on my back and watch as about 40 guys pass me in this brief moment of time. I was done, the General Lee was dead.
I walked about 1/4 mile to a main mid-point in the race. Lots of spectators, a man on a loud-speaker reading names of participants and where they were from. My name would not get read. The worst part was upon me now...I call it the "Gauntlet of Shame". Running up the hill, with broken chain in left hand and the General in the other hand while having to listen to spectators say "oh no! he has a broken chain", "oh man, did you see that? Poor guy's chain is broke", "what's he gonna do?".
Already knowing that the day was over it was all I could do to look anyone in the face there at the spectator point. People were nice and offered me rides to the finish line. All I wanted to do was get back on the bike and finish it out - even if it meant taking 4 hours. I guess I could have ran and finished it that way, but it would have jacked up everyone else on the course. I was disappointed, sure, but having friends and family waiting for me at the finish line, only for me to show up in a van instead was heartbreaking. I hated the feeling of seeing the finish line from the outside looking in. All I wanted to do was report my DNF, congratulate the boys on a fine race find my family and get out of there.
Looking forward to next year? Right now...no. I guess I'm not p!ssed enough about it right now to do or say anything. Besides, what else could I have done? Everything seemed out of my control. I'm not the kind of guy to charge right back immediately and seek revenge and act all hardcore about it. For now I guess I should take some much needed time off, reflect on the heartache and work my way back in the saddle and work the next 11 months for Iceman 2012.
I'll put this aside - it was a learning experience. More about myself than the race itself. I'm at least really happy for Matt Remus who smoked the course to finish 12th out of 71 riders in our class, and Matt Longest who finished with a great time and only had to stop once to put on a thrown chain. Well done boys, really proud to have you as friends and fierce competitors.
Three Men on a Shuttle Bus.
View from the start line of Wave 22, 10:03am
The General. Laying in repose with intestines laying
out on the stump for the vultures.