What a fun and rewarding weekend. Both Laura and I participated in the “Curse at the Crab” endurance race at Lake Crabtree County Park. Laura teamed up with Trina Cook while I raced with Ahmet in the men’s duo category. Ahmet and I both lucked out and had our entry fees waived by doing some volunteer work in preparation for the race.
After a breakfast of oatmeal, a boiled egg, and some mixed fruit, I joined Steve Rogers and a few others to help mark the course early Saturday morning, which required us to tape off a few sections and to use flour for making directional arrows in the dirt. That work served as both a feel-good volunteer effort and as a warm-up for the race, as we had to ride the entire course in order to complete the marking. I got home at about 11:45 and prepared another carb-and-protein rich meal for lunch: a peanut butter and banana sandwich, raw broccoli, brown rice and a gigantic iced tea. Okay, the iced tea had very little nutritional value, I suppose, but it slaked my ravenous thirst and got me pre-hydrated for the event.
Laura and I then began packing up for the race. I crammed the rapid shelter, cooler, card table and many bike-related items into the Siouxbie. I got both of our bikes in tip-top shape for the race, too. We got to LCCP right around 1:00 PM, just in time for the kids’ race. We found a good spot in the transition zone and proceeded to erect the rapid shelter. Soon others began filing in and staking claims near our spot. A couple of young ECU students set up right next to us. Eric and Chris were their names, if I’m recalling correctly. They were extremely kind and enthusiastic, as was just about everyone else in attendance. I am always impressed by the friendliness and generososity from those who attend these cycling events; even at highly competitive races, everyone is willing to share resources and offer kind words of encouragement. I love this sport.
Ahmet showed up a little after 2:00 PM and began getting pumped for the first lap. The race started about a quarter mile or so down the paved park road in order to space the riders out and permit the faster participants to make their way to the front. Although Ahmet swore that this race would be “just a training ride for Burn,” his competitive impulse got the better of him and he was fifth or sixth onto the singletrack, close behind the leaders. Those leaders finished the initial lap around the 27-minute mark and Ahmet came rolling in at about 31 minutes. He signaled that he was good to go another lap, which gave me an additional half hour to sit around the pit area. Screw that, I thought, as I mounted my bike and pedaled around the parking lot in an effort to warm up my legs. Laura did the first lap as well, while Trina fiddled around in the pit area or chatted with the timekeepers while awaiting her turn. Laura was toward the rear of the pack when the riders dove onto the singletrack, but I was pleased to see her smiling as she whizzed past me. She turned in a 40:26 minute first lap, which I thought was quite respectable. It turned out that she and Trina were well-matched for this event.
Like clockwork, Ahmet crossed the timing line again at 31 minutes, just a few seconds difference from his first effort. Now it was my turn. I rocketed away on my S-Works, then became immediately mindful not to crush it too hard right away, so I soon settled into a medium-fast rhythm of about 75% effort. I turned in two laps of approximately 33 – 34 minutes…always a minute or two slower than Ahmet. He did his next two laps, followed by another pair from me. It was exactly 7:29 when Ahmet began our ninth lap, so he narrowly escaped having to use his lights. He returned at 8:03, which would not give either him or me enough time to do another lap before the 8:30 cutoff time. Unless he really pushed it. He didn’t think he had a 27-minute lap in him, and frankly, I’m glad he didn’t try. So I took off for our tenth lap with my lights blazing. I was pretty spent, but I needed to turn in a decent lap, I thought, not really knowing why. Well, it’s good I did not completely phone in the last lap, since the second place team was only eight minutes behind us in the standings, although this was unbeknownst to us at the time. In fact, neither Ahmet nor I ever checked the standings during the entire race. Remember, we were treating it as a “training ride.”
When it was all over, we chowed down on sandwiches provided by Jimmy Johns and began breaking down our pit area. No one in our little group seemed very interested in awaiting the results, so we went home. I checked the bike forum the next morning to see that the results were already posted. Somehow, though, the timekeepers missed our fifth lap and credited us with only nine. I petitioned Steve Rogers and he eventually corrected the mistake, which gave Ahmet and me first place, eight minutes ahead of second. We finished in 5:39 with ten laps. Steve is somewhere in Chapel Hill holding on to our coveted trophy. Maybe I’ll pick it up one of these days. Laura and Trina churned out eight laps, although the results only show seven. More timing errors from the observers in the tent. I’m still not sure why, at $45 a head, this race was not electronically timed. At any rate, we all had fun, and it felt good to get first in our category. The truly fast riders managed 11 laps at roughly 32 minutes average lap time. Bastards.
Here’s Laura, clearly having a good time:
Results for men’s duo: