Oak Mountain Recon

Finally in Alabama and it's time to start thinking about the race on Sunday. I headed over to Oak Mountain State Park to review the bike course today, then get a swim in. All I have to say was that today was not my day. I was scattered loading everything into my car, distracted when getting ready to ride and my bike sounded like one of the many I'd seen strapped to the roofs of cars and RVs during the drive. I should have lubed the chain at least before heading off. I started out, already cranky because of the noise. Then I hit the single track and most of my crankiness went away. I was having a good time, riding comfortably through the trees. Didn't quite feel like I had the best flow on the course, but still felt okay. Then I saw a guy in the middle of the trail, waving at me to slow down or stop. A huge rat snake was snoozing on the trail and didn't really want to move out of the way. I took a few pictures, then the guy moved the snake off the trail. I think it was taller then me! Back to riding. I was surprised at how well I remembered the trail and allowed myself to get distracted by something. With my mind wandering, I set up the entry into the bridge after the Rock Garden all wrong. About halfway over the bridge, I realized I was in trouble. Tried correcting and keeping the bike on the bridge, but it was a no go. Off I went, right onto my head, in the middle of a pile of rocks. And it was one of those slow motion endos where you can see everything happening and know that it's gonna be bad. Once I got myself untangled from my bike, I had to sit on the rocks for a few minutes. My neck was stiff, but that seemed to be all. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Finally I got back on the bike and continued along the course. My already out of wack flow was even more out of wack. I wasn't riding slow, but I wasn't riding smart either. And I wasn't really looking forward to Blood Rock now. I also had forgotten how long that double track climb was - I kept getting myself physched up, then realizing I had another short climb to go. Then finally, I was able to drop into single track again. And right away, things went squirrelly as I almost hooked my bars on a tree. I was hoping that I would be able to ride Blood Rock on the first try this year, but got caught no looking where I wanted to go. Narrowly avoided another endo as I bailed off my bike. Time to get settled and start riding smart. I hiked back up the hill, gave myself a little talking to and headed back down. Made it through, so it was time for another run at it. All the way up to the top of the hill and then back down and through the rocks. Talking myself through the line, I again made it down and then continued.  Already hesitant after the bridge episode, the screw up on the rocks made my reactions even sketchier. I made it cleanly down the rest of the descent, but it wasn't pretty at times. Onto the new section of trail and I managed to disturb a group of ROTC students out on a mission. They were in full cameo, with trees and shrubs tied to their heads. Some of them were so intent on what they were doing, I'm not sure they even saw me. I'm really not sure how they could have not heard me coming... Shortly after I passed the ROTC students, a tree leaped out and grabbed my bars. Once again, I was on the ground. I just wasn't having a good day at all. Luckily, no injuries except to my pride. And hopefully I really got all my stupid riding done today.

But the swim more then made up for the stupid day on the bike. Renata was also getting into the water, so we decided to swim together. And the water was so nice, a perfect temperature for swimming. There were lots of little fishes swimming around at the dock and they started nibbling at our toes. We did a long, easy stretch to a small buoy and the beach where the race will start. Then time for some sprints. It's hard to do "50" yard sprits with no markers! So i just counted strokes - 40 strokes and time to slow down. After the sprints, we swam back to the dock. I was happy to have the company for the swim and it was good way to end a stressful ride. Hopefully my neck will not be as stiff tomorrow...

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