I wasn't going to write anything about regarding CIRREM last weekend because it didn't seem to be that big a deal. After thinking about it a bit though it does deserve some attention or at least I can't seem to get parts of it out of my head. Not so much the riding or course, which was fine, but other people's comments surrounding the event.
First off, it had snowed a bit the night before the race and was about ten degrees colder than expected. I was happy because I figured it would scare off the riff-raff. Even so 101 riders toed the line at the Cumming Tap.
I was getting a lot of congratulations on my Arrowhead a Trois achievement from those who knew about it. I'm still a little uncomfortable with that, but I tried to be nice even if it was nine AM and I wasn't quite awake yet. I really didn't want to talk, I just wanted to start the ride.
Apparently though word hadn't gotten through to everyone. As I was filling up my Camelbak in the bathroom with hot tap water I had a guy tell me that cold water was better as it wouldn't freeze as fast. I wanted to tell him that the Mpemba effect was a myth and that this was the exact same way I'd used the Camelbak at Arrowhead, where it was 55 degrees colder, without any problems. Not to mention that the water wouldn't freeze even if I used it wrong, only the hose would. It just wasn't that cold. Instead I said, "Nope." I guess that was a little too terse as he replied with something like, "Okay, tough guy," or something like that. I didn't feel like arguing that early in the morning.
I started out the ride somewhere near the back, I didn't want to fight in the main pack for the first mile or so. The roads had about an inch of snow on them and I didn't want to be part of a pile-up if things were slippery. I'd wait for things to spread out a bit and catch up. That was a poor tactic as it turned out. The roads were good and the front pack charged out fast. In the first few miles I picked off almost everyone between me and that front group, but there was no way I was going to catch them, though I probably could have stuck with them.
As I was passing a group one of them said, "Do you know who that is? That's Matt Maxwell." I didn't stick around to hear the conversation. I mean, who doesn't like compliments, but this is ridiculous.
The roads weren't too bad in spite of appearances. The inch of snow along with some fresh gravel made things a little interesting, but, at least for the first half it was easy going. I used the big ring more than I think I ever have on a gravel ride.
The only problem was my glasses freezing up. I'm not sure if it was mist in the air, snow kicked up by the tires, or breath condensing on them, but after a few miles I was struggling to see out of one eye. Riding without glasses was out of the question. I can't tell a car from a tree without them. I kept scraping at them to keep them clear enough, but it wasn't ideal.
At the halfway checkpoint I put my glasses inside my jacket for a few minutes to thaw and ate a cookie since I hadn't had breakfast. The glasses stayed thawed for all of a mile and ten miles down the road I was feeling a bonk coming on. I took a short break to eat some fig bars I had with me, but unfortunately I lost my riding companions, the Mables on a tandem, and had to start navigating by myself. I tried to follow tire tracks, as I didn't want to dig the cue sheet out of my pocket, and ended up making a wrong turn and climbing two steep hills before figuring out my mistake.
I rode the last few miles with Steve Cannon, organizer of the Winter Race Series. My right toes were numb, but okay, and I really hadn't eaten or drunk enough. My time of 5:08 for the 63 miles wasn't bad, but the detour and icy glasses probably cost me ten minutes or so.
After the ride I got a lot of "dude, awesome beard" comments at the bar. I sat down with a cyclist who I didn't recognize but who said he was also from Ames. We talked about riding around town, working at bike shops, and exchanged first names, but it wasn't until the next day I figured out that I am already Facebook friends with him. I think that says something about Facebook. I wonder if he knew the whole time and was just humoring me.
Another group was talking about how 'epic' the ride was. I don't know if my perceptions have changed, but it doesn't seem like a metric century is epic material anymore. At least not unless the weather is truly horrible. Maybe if it had been windy or we had had more snow I could agree to and epic label.
The Arrowhead congratulations and beard comments were a little too much so I went to talk with some folks I actually knew. Mark Stevenson told me that some of the advice I had given on mental training/tricks worked for him on the ride. I'm glad that not all of my advice has been bad. In talking with Steve Cannon I found out that he's a fairly accomplished ultra-runner which was cool to find out.
Crowded social scenes just aren't me and I hope I wasn't too much of a jerk to anyone and this blog post isn't too humble/pridefull. I do like talking about the Arrowhead and other races I've done and plan to do, but I don't quite feel deserving of the accolades. There are so many other folks out there who are so much better at this than me. Like these guys.