Monday, October 29, 2012

Unfinished Business Finished

Finish Line At Cochise Classic 165 Miles

Barbara Franklin, Perimeter Bicycling Finish Line Director

Kirk crewed for me and now helps to hold my trophies

(I love this rendition of our National Anthem sung by the Knudson Bros. and played at the beginning of the Cochise)

Dex Tooke returned to Race Across America (RAAM) in 2011 to finish the business which he began in 2010, the year he DNF'd for failing to meet the time cut-offs. In his book, Unfinished Business, he captures the raw feelings of awe, gratitude, fear, pain, and punishing fatigue--his own and that of his crew, in his epic odyssey of Racing Across America solo in under 13 days at age 60.

Dex is one of my heros.

Like Dex, I had some unfinished business at the Cochise Classic in Douglas, AZ. 

I don't know how I first learned about about the Cochise County Cycling Classic some 8-10 years ago when I still lived in Chicago. Probably because Perimeter Bicycling hosts both El Tour de Tucson as well as the Cochise Classic. I think everyone who rides a bike has heard of El Tour, just like everyone who runs has heard of the Boston Marathon. 

After "coming back" in 2001 and being able to ride a recumbent after 11 years of disabling back surgeries and complicated recoveries, I thought I was ready to ride the mid-October, 157 mile Cochise Classic in Douglas, AZ just 3 blocks from the Mexican border in South East Arizona. 

So much I didn't know about ultradistance riding back then. I didn't know I would lose my heat acclimatization between the end of summer in Chicago (August) and the never-ending summer in Arizona. I didn't know how to monitor my fluid and electrolyte loss when sweat in AZ evaporates before your skin even thinks of glistening. I didn't know the perils of Gatorade. I didn't know how much to drink, how often, and how to make certain I balanced my fluid and electrolyte intake.

Despite my many unknowings I finished as the 2nd female overall, but I ended up in the Douglas Hospital for an overnight stay with hyponatremia--basically too little salt. Thank goodness for my crew, my son, Daniel and his wife Rachel, and my good friend, Suzanne, from Chicago.

I had much to learn about ultradistance cycling.

Having successfully crossed our continent with PAC Tour in 2006 in 26 days, I returned to Douglas in 2007 to right my mistakes in 2004. And, while I was at it I decided I'd opt for the 252 miles distance.  My son, Bryan from Eugene, OR, joined Daniel as my crew.

I aborted the 252 after only 27 miles.


I had fallen while riding just 2 weeks before the Cochise and sustained a crush injury to my left calf. The injured muscle, under the exertional effort of climbing the 2000' Mule Pass, caused the muscle fibers in my calf to release some toxic contents into my blood stream which were toxic to my kidneys.

It was personal growth to surrender the ride rather than ride through the dysfunction and risk long-term renal damage. While it was indeed growth, the emotional toll of having abandoned the ride that had been such a financial investment tapped into some childhood demons that strangled me like a boa for longer than it should have.

So back I came in 2012 to finish what was started in 2004 and aborted in 2007. The 60,000+ miles between the aborted 252 and 2012 have taught me much, AND we now live in Tucson so I'm permanently heat and hill acclimatized.

This year Kirk would be my crew. while I was riding joyfully, he was joyfully seeing the likes of Bisbee, Tombstone, Benson, the Dragoons for the first time.

It was grand to see Mule Pass in the light of day instead of in the pitch of night; it was a joy to ride I-10 since being re-surfaced. The weather gods prevailed and it was not too hot, not too cold, and the wind was just right--even a tail wind after turning south on Dragoon Rd and Rt 191. It was a relief to feel   "on top" of my fueling, fluids, and electrolytes.

And, best of all was pulling into the finish to cheers from Kirk and the Perimeter Bicycling Staff who have become good friends since Tucson has become home.


Gerry said...

Great job!!!!

Gerry said...

Great job!!!!