Today’s special: Rock Soup. Our Rock Soup is made of various sizes and shapes of never ending rocks, bathed in a delightful mud broth. Our lovely soup is severed to all types of mountain bikers that enjoy visiting the Rothrock State Forest. If you are lucky, your Rock Soup may even be served with a face-full of azalea bushes.
I do not know why I was surprised when it started to rain. I lived in State College for four years and carried an umbrella with me every single day because I knew that on any given day, rain was a possibility. Not only was it a possibility, but it was likely. I actually have specific memories of sudden showers. One was so torrential, that I arrived to work with my corduroys completely soaked up to the top of my legs to where my jacket started, even with an umbrella. I think maybe my head stayed dry, but that was it. Once in the summer I just gave in to the downpour and walked home barefoot in the pouring rain, and on 4th July I watched the fireworks outside of my apartment building with my friends in the rain while singing patriotic songs. We were, in fact, singing in the rain. I do not think that any other 4-year span of my life resulted in so many “rain” memories. So again, I am not sure why I was surprised when it started to rain.
Maybe I wasn’t surprised, but instead it was the realization that yes, this race was going to be every bit as hard as I expected and perhaps more. I had ridden most of the single track sections two weeks before. I considered to to be just on the edge of my ability level. It was a challenge, but very doable, and still fun. I did not factor in, however, if it rained. Which would potentially make it just enough more difficult, to be completely out of my range of technical skills. Sometimes, I hate to admit, I do not think things through fully. Like when I majored in architecture, and then part way into my freshman year I remembered that I did not like drawing buildings. Opps, oh well. At lest I didn’t shoot down a hill head first into a tree because of that one.
By the end of the race, I felt like I had been placed in a can with rocks and shaken around for an entire day. All that and I didn’t even finish the stoopid race. I was “sort of” cut off. “Sort of” because as I approached the road crossing before the last section of single track, the volunteers stationed there informed me how many miles and how much time I had to reach the aid station before the cut off. Since the math didn’t quite add up, I took the short cut back to the aid station, expecting them to be really cutting people off at the cut off time.
Turns out they were being pretty liberal about it. Being used to triathlon and road race rules, I was not exactly expecting this. I felt that I was somewhat misled, and the thing that bugs me, is that I had already finished the hard part, the rest of the race was all roads. However, had I taken the real trail, I probably would have been there late enough to be cut off for real, but I don’t really know. And had I gone on, I probably would have wished that I had stopped.
On the brighter side, or possibly the even darker side, I learned that I can run 31 miles faster than I can mountain bike the same distance. And now, somehow, ideas of the Shenandoah 100 have made their way into my head, replacing my previous thoughts of Ironman Lake Placid. However, just because I have an idea, doesn’t mean that it is a good one.