So nobody is in suspense, I made it.
I'm not sure how to write abut this event. Should I begin with the day before and my foolish (then) decision to ride a set of demo wheels? Should I begin with my nervous morning that required not one, but two pre-race trips to the bathroom? Or should I just get rolling, so to speak? If I lump it all together, this is going to be one long post.
I guess I wonder how much to write because I wonder how much will be read. In my line of work, I'm usually trying to put as much as possible into as few words as possible. Not exactly ideal for storytelling. So, I think I'm gonna break it up. First a brief overview of my time leading up to the race...
My LOTOJA odyssey began months prior with hours and hours training on the bike. Maybe just hours. My low level of dedication had me on the bike only a couple of times per week. And I didn't really get started until late June. Why the lack of enthusiasm? Likely because I had done the race before, knew what to expect and wasn't really expecting a record time as much as I was hoping to finish, which I knew I could in a reasonable amount of time. In training, my legendary back problems never arose before, or during, the race — even on eight hour training rides. My biggest problem was saddle sores.
Sure, I have had some butt issues in the past. But never like this. Over the course of months I tried saddle position adjustments, creams, different shorts and finally, four days before the race put on a new saddle. Believe me, it couldn't get any worse. Could it? Turns out it couldn't. Honestly, I surprised myself. My LOTOJA experience went remarkably well, but I couldn't have done it without J-Hard and Motor Mike.
As usual, the hours leading up to the race went remarkably fast and were not without folly. The Thursday before the race I picked up my registration packet and ran into friends I had not seen in days and years. My line was the only long line, and lead to a long wait. But the time spent led to a building of excitement I had not yet experienced for this event and carried to dinner with my fellow racers and support crew.
At dinner and over beers, I agreed to ride a set of ENVE 47mm carbon wheels. Just had to pick them up the next day — the day before the race — and set them up. Gleefully, I added this task to my short pre-race list of stuff to do.
Big mistake. As a violation of the axiom, "Nothing new on race day." The world set to punish me from the moment I set the wheels in my garage. I broke a screw. The front hub had play in it. My relaxation time I had set aside evaporated in a panic. I called The Bike Shoppe. They made things better — five minutes before they closed.
But damn those wheels looked good. And a short ride on them confirmed they felt as good as they looked. And as much as I am not a class envy (get it?) type person, I suddenly hated those who own these wheels. Because they are awesome. Lighter than my Bontrager X-Lites, the Enve's have a unique quality to them. They spin up fast, but once they hit a certain speed, it is like the wheel takes over and feels like they are pulling you along. Weird, but so cool. Braking was excellent. This short ride restored my faith that I had done the right thing borrowing the wheels. In spite of the harrowing hours and years of my life I spent getting them on.
I'll pick up at my 3:30 am wake-up call next post.