It’s early on race day. We set up camp and the pit yesterday afternoon in suppressing heat. I don’t know what the temperature was but everyone on our crew complained about it multiple times. Our pit is at the far end of pit row and about ¼ mile from our camper. Joe and I are the only ones up at this hour. The others are doing what they can to sleep. The sun has come up and it’s starting to bake again. Generators from the neighboring campsite are puttering away. I need to get some breakfast in me before we go bicycle the opening mile of the course. Race starts at 10am today and ends at 10am tomorrow morning.
Hydration for the next 24+ hours is going to be essential. I’ve been drinking like mad but been pretty careful about what I drink. I was turned on to a mix called specialdrinkmix.com that helps your body store water on the cellular level. Before I started using SDM I was doing just water and had to pee so often that it was annoying and, unbeknownst to me, not doing me any good. Since drinking SDM I’ve feeling a little plump. I’ve been measuring my hydration level by peeing on a chem stick. The stick measures water’s specific gravity so the more water that’s in your urine, the better hydrated you are. So far so good but I don’t expect to stay hydrated for long. It’s just too hot.
Off to check out the course and then eat breaky.
Just did tire pressure (11f, 10r) on my Kenda Millvilles, gassed up, new lenses in the Oakleys, and got dressed. Sitting in the camp talking shop. Noah is here helping us out. He knows Mark Junge from road racing at various tracks around the country. Its awesome to have Noah here. Thanks, man.
The start line is a chalk line that funnels into ever narrowing ribbon . The ribbon ends at the woods and then the trail shoots up the hill above timing and scoring. We’ll do a short loop then join the normal course about 3 minutes into the race. I didn’t go any farther than that in my recon. It will eyeopening from then on.
I’m ready. Not nervous but excited. My thumb is a little sore from the tumble I took weeks ago but I don’t expect it to slow me down. I’ve been drinking a bunch and the stick says I’m hydrated. Up to me (my head) now.
The starting line with my umbrella girl, Joe. My video camera didn't work. Bummer.
Just did the first stint. Blew the start and was the last person to leave the line. Worked my way past riders but followed some guys off course and got lost. Dumb. Super dusty so passing was dangerous. Figured I would be in 15th in class but came across in 8th. Course is one-line and a diverse combination of beach sand, moist woods, open fields and road, double track, and ups and downs. It will get rough. Did 4 laps and had moved up to 2nd in class.
Bike is running badly and the rear is kicking. Noah made some adjustments so I’ll see how she does from here. It is so awesome to get off the bike and have someone take it from you to do the work. The course is beat now. Some new lines opening up. Joe did his stint and kept us in 4th. I moved us back up to 3rd but that’s all we’ll get. The front guys are way out there. Beside, its not about the race; its about the experience.
My hands are not blistered but they are tired. My shoulders are tired but by low back is good. Just changed my clothes so I feel refreshed. It is hot. Put new liners in my Bell helmets, grabbed some new goggles, ate a turkey and cheese sandwich, drank a bunch of chocolate milk and sat to write this. I have 20 minutes until Joe is due back in. Time passes fast when I’m off the bike.
Noah Mitchell did an incredible job during our race. We could not have done it without him.
Slowing down some but somehow we are in the lead. Rough and dusty like I’ve rarely seen. Some chafing on my right underarm and top of my ass crack. That’s from the gritty dust that get in your clothes, I suppose. Hands are still in one peice. Top of my head is tender like the helmets are rubbing it. Brave Soldier on my head could solve that?
Carb was full of dust when we made the jetting adjustment on my last off stint. It was running better from the adjustment but now its running on. Sticky slide maybe. Noah is flushing it now. That guy rocks!
Super fun course now that I know it better. I’ve been on the bike a total of 4.5 hours. I figure I’ll do 12 total. It will only get harder from here.
Lights on this time out. Joe will be back in at 6:45 so that puts me out there until after 8. The woods will be dark by then. Apprehensive about the lights in the dust. Reflection back in my face will be an issue.
Liz V has been great. Big food spreads every time I get back to camp. Can’t ask for more.
Pit lane had a 10mph speed limit.
Meltdown. I imagine the combination of the heat, the pace, our inexperience, and my tendency to get motion sick all crashed down on me at once. The whooped out trail and limited field of vision really messed with me. I wasn’t able to ride without feeling nausea and event tossed up everything I had in my stomach just after midnight. I tried to do single laps with short breaks in between but couldn’t out-will the desire to upchuck.
I did manage to reduce the nausea by adjusting my lights to have a broader spread. That way I was seeing more of the surroundings when riding down the trail. It was an improvement but not enough to keep me on the trail.
When I pulled it in for the night we were in 3rd and over 13 minutes down on 2nd. That doesn’t really matter since our goal was to finish and we can still do that. Joe had the same vertigo sensation that I had so he went to sleep for a while. Our pit is dark and both bikes are parked.
I’m up but barely. Hardly slept but feeling better. My body is tired and my legs keep cramping. I’ve got a headache and I’m feeling fuzzy. What should I expect?
Trying to get in some instant oatmeal and I have fresh Moose gear on. That’s helping my morale. Joe is out on course and Noah has prepped my bike so I’m ready to go when Joe is back. I expect the trail to be completely wrecked at this point. It will be interesting to see how the last few laps go and to see what place we are in.
I’m disappointed in myself. I’ve been planning this event for 6 months and to be shut down but motion sickness is hard to swallow. On the flip side, the experience has been great. The waves of emotions I’ve go through are amazing. I’ve endured crests of feeling like we can win to lows of how much I hate my motorcycle several times each night lap.
Sunday morning early. My hands are still in one piece and would last the entire event unscathed.
Joe takes a break early on Sunday morning.
Just did 3 laps. Was good on the opening lap. Felt rested and had some speed. That’s all relative at this point, however. Laps 2 and 3 were much slower. I know the course so I know where to go fast or where to turn but it just feels unsafe to go faster. My body is too run down.
My stomach and headache are worse than ever. Nothing tastes good and there’s nothing I can do about the hungover feeling. It’s getting warm again and that’s not helping.
We are in 5th just 18 minutes down on 4th. If Joe hustles on his last stint then maybe we get in 4 more laps. That might bump us up to 4th. Hate to be negative but at this point 10am can’t come soon enough. A shower and bed are calling me.
Back to that rollercoaster of emotions thing. This past stint I really missed my family. Wanted to be with them right at that moment. Is that because it’s home and safe and comforting and the place I’m in now is so uncomfortable?
We did it. We wanted to finish in the top 10. Done and dusted.
There have been a few events transpire since the end of the race (that’s why it’s 7:40pm) but I’ll go back to what I was thinking at the end of the race before talking about the afternoon.
Joe’s last 2 laps ended with enough time for me to do 2 laps before the race would end at 10, if I was up for it. I had barfed when I putting my gear back on so that was when I realized I had a decision to make. I was nauseous, had a headache, hadn’t eaten well, and hadn’t been able to take on fluids so going back out into the heat was a bad idea. Crashing might be more risky if I couldn’t think clearly and if I felt bad before riding, how bad would I feel afterwards?
On the other hand I’d put a lot of preparation into getting to this race, as did Joe. Quitting was not an option but I considered it at one point. I may only do this race one time ever so not being able to say that I finished it would have been a regret. While finishing was our primary objective we did lead for several hours and that’s something to be proud of.
Joe came in at 9:15. I was dressed and ready to go. It was hot. We had a short discussion about our race position and if we had a chance of moving up. The team behind us was 2 laps back. Joe said we were 24 seconds behind 4th but it was actually 24 minutes. I mounted up and headed out.
The course was really whooped and some of the exposed hills felt like a furnace. I held it steady and sipped from the water I had in my Camelbak. The thought of knowing that we would finish pushed me along. In reality it was a race with no reward other than the satisfaction of completion but I had latched on to making it happen; there was no letting go for me.
Timing and scoring showed that we were in 5th and 13 minutes down on 4th when I started that last lap. The crew was standing on the side of the trail cheering me on. That felt good. I backed it way down on that last lap and almost completed all my day laps without a single crash but tipped over in a narrow rutted section (dammit!). I was tired. I didn’t have any pain other than a small blister on my thumb. That’s amazing considering how much riding I did.
When I crossed the line at 10:07 we were only 3:58 behind 4th. It doesn’t matter but I wish I could have been able to pull off a 25 minute lap instead of the 30+ that I did. I rode to the line where we had to return our transponders, shut off the bike, pulled off my helmet, and puked.
Again the heat. While we were breaking down the pit I was a complete waste. My vision was fuzzy, the sunlight made it hard to keep my eyes open, my stomach was uneasy, my head hurt like crazy, and I couldn’t cool down. I sat in front of the fan with cold rags on my wrists and an ice pack on my back but that wasn’t doing the trick. Eventually the crew got the pit shoved back into the van and I hitched a ride back over the camp. I stayed in the van for the AC for a minute but that didn’t feel right. Everyone else was discussing the race and I wanted to be a part of it. When I got out I felt especially bad so I sprawled out on the outdoor carpet under the camper awning. I must have really looked bad since Joe’s wife Liz asked if I wanted the EMTs. I didn’t even hesitate.
They arrived and stepped up all the cooling methods we had been using: water, ice, cool rags, the fan. I had been aware of my environment every minute of the previous 24 hours but didn’t understand how important being lucid was. The EMT guys asked me questions about where I was and what I was doing and I could answer all of those. He was trying to get a feel of how far gone I was but mentally I was stable. Physically I was uncomfortable. The EMTs called an ambulance and planned to get me to the hospital.
While laying there I was full of thoughts. I was happy that we finished. I was somewhat regretting having gone out for those last laps knowing that I was unstable and low on fluids. I felt bad for not helping tear down the pit and camp. I felt bad about putting Liz through the anguish of basically ignoring her concerns about my well being. I image she understands that I was determined to do what I wanted, regardless of the risk and consequence, but it would have been hard for her to not speak her mind or try to stop me. I felt bad for Joe because by calling the ambulance I was delaying our drive home. Who knew by how much.
So, now I’m in the Clanton, AL hospital. The ambulance ride was brutal because it was on small, rough roads and I was already nauseous. But once I got to a bed in the ER things started getting better. They drew blood and got me hooked up to an IV of saline. I had been suffering from paralyzing cramps in my legs, groin, and mid back since I got off the moto so they gave me a muscle relaxer. That started working within 5 minutes.
The ER doc came back with news that my creatinine and enzymes associated with my kidneys were elevated. I was at risk of kidney failure so they admitted me. I was somewhat relieved but also didn’t want to stay. I wanted to get in the van with Joe and head home to see family.
7:50 Monday morning
I’ve got 3 wires connected to my chest, an IV line in my right arm, a blood saturation monitor on my left hand, the nurse call button/TV remote, and my computer here on the bed with me. I can’t move without something tugging or tying a knot.
I slept okay. My head is better and I’ve been able to pee several times. So far I’ve had 8 liters of saline dripped into my body. I lost 8 pounds of water weight in the race. My enzyme level is still elevated so they are saying I will need to say another day.
Joe has been hanging out waiting for news about my situation. I appreciate that beyond words. We have no set plan at this time because we don’t know when I will be discharged and that’s causing some issues because our work demands that we get back to the office. To add insult to injury Joe just called to say that a leaf spring on the trailer broke. It can’t be driven with the broken spring.
I’m supposed to have another blood test to ensure that I’m trending in the right direction. If I’m good then they’ll discharge me. Joe is on his way to pick me up.
I’m out. My enzyme count was good but I have to follow up with my primary care doctor when I get back to WI. We’re at a Starbucks waiting for the trailer to be bolted back together. Probably drive some tonight and finish it up tomorrow. Whew.
My RM-Z250 was awesome. There weren't very many 250f bikes in the race so not only were we one of the few teams not on orange, we were on different equipment. Wouldn't want it any other way.