Friday, June 12, 2009

Eastern Sierra Double Century--No Guts No Glory

Sometimes the greatest good comes from the worst evil.
(Photo taken of Joan Grant by Mike Deitchman at Eastern Sierra '09. For more awesome photos by Mike, click here.)

Case in point: The Eastern Sierra Double Century '09. Yes, it sucked to be out there. No doubt. But did it really suck suck?

No. In fact, it was actually quite awesome.

WHA? you're thinking, You don't make any sense, nutso! I just read 3 days of your biotching about the event.
It would appear that you're correct. But I'm a girl, so I'm allowed to make no sense and contradict myself, right?

If the ESD had, in fact, been pleasant, I wouldn't have learned anything about myself that would further my confidence in my training for Race Across Oregon. (Crossing my fingers RAO will be warm!)

Like that I don't give up that easily. (As long as nobody gives me the option. I hope you're reading this, RAO crew.)

Or that I love being outside, getting dirty, with my friends--even if it is in a ditch on the side of a road. How many friends have you, grown men and women, huddled in a ditch with in the middle of nowhere lately? It's quite a bonding experience. And it reemphasized the importance of friendship in life--above all else, really.

So, along that vein, I have to thank ESD for being so evil, because in its evil, it gave me a better understanding of myself, and of my capabilities. But most of all, it brought me closer to my old friends, and allowed me to make some totally awesome new ones.

Joan Grant, ultracyclist extraordinaire, suggested I do ESD in the first place. I was excited to go just to get to meet her in person, as I had already adopted her as my ultra mentor (whether she knew it or not), and to meet her equally ultra crazy boyfriend, Mike.

Seeing Joan out there on the course was inspiring. (FYI, she was whooping me, but I got to see her because of the out-and-backs.) She was riding alone, and seemed to ride through the rain like it was just a minor annoyance. Same goes for the wind. As I huddled behind a tandem, Joan refused to draft off of anybody, and wound up dragging a long line of emasculated men behind her.

Mike was the world's best adopted crew member to Robyn and me when we arrived at lunch, filling up our water bottles and asking how we were doing.

Coachubby drove around all day, cheering for us and taking pictures.

Ultracycling's a neat-o thing to do, because it's simultaneously all about you, and all about your crew and friends. Without them, ultracycling would seem lonely, selfish, and pointless. Without you, they'd, um, probably be enjoying a hot tub and some margaritas instead of driving 10 mph behind you at 1am trying to stay awake.

Everyone's efforts were sweetly rewarded the next day, when we met Joan, Mike, and two of their ultra friends at the best bakery I've visited since living in Paris--in Bishop! (Who'da thunk?)

As we sat out on the patio, taking in the warm, sunny day that was Sunday, exchanging horror stories from the day before, and from rides before that, I was supremely happy. And wheezy and in pain. But happy.

We followed Joan and Mike up to a bathtub-like hotspring and enjoyed more time in each other's company, soaking in the hot water and the scenery.

The hot tub, the bakery sweets, and the warm sun would never have seemed as heavenly had they not been contrasted against the freezing, PowerBar-ed, rainy day before.

And so, like a cruel lover, ESD was both the most evil, sadistic thing I've ever encountered, but also the most rewarding.

And what's even cooler? Joan will be riding at RAO as well.

Bring it!


  1. Awwww! :) Meeting you guys was the highlight of my weekend too! :) And for the record, I'm sure you whooped me in terms of actual ride time - I didn't spend a couple hours huddled in the ditch, so that's the only reason I ended up in front of you! And remember - I wussed out on my extra ride at the end - you didn't! :)

    Totally agree with the notion that tough days are actually more valuable than easy days (and more memorable!). For example, I learned at the Davis 12hr Challenge this year (which was supposed to be 24hrs, but I wussed out after 12hrs in the rain) that wearing a simple garbage bag is not only stylish ;) but works wonders in terms of insulating a soaking wet body from the wind. I in fact wore that very same garbage bag at ES (after taking about 5min before my frozen fingers could undo my helmet strap to allow me to get the darn thing on over my head!)! I'd hoped not to have to USE that newly learned fact quite so soon (wasn't 12hrs of misery enough?), but hey, at least I learned something! Then 2 weeks later at the Davis Double I did the same course in 100+ degree heat, and learned that when my body stops sweating, that's BAD!! I still don't know how I limped through the last part of the course and got myself home that night! So yes, the "horror" rides are tough, but they're also hugely beneficial in terms of mental and physical preparation for crazier things (like RAO!). And of course sharing these experiences with new and old friends alike is what makes doing these things so tempting and rewarding! (But I am hoping that I've paid my dues to the weather gods and we'll get spectacular rather than craptacular weather in Oregon!!!!)

    Erin - you rock!! And I look forward to seeing you (whiz by me) in Oregon, and then getting to know you better in the fall when you come to Stanford!

  2. Woo hoo! I'll pray your over-paid weather dues will rule out anything but sunshine and 80 degree weather at RAO! And your garbage bag is hot :D

  3. Hi, Erin. Your blog is absolutely awesome and made me LOL! You are an awesome rider. I was the girl on the back of the tandem who waved to you to join on the back. Yes, we crashed, but you weren't to blame. There was a guy right in front of us who slowed down and then cut in front of us, clipping our front wheel and taking us down. OUCH! I'm still healing from the road rash on my left leg and my hand is still bruised from where I landed on it. Oh, well. That's life on a bike. Good luck on the RAO. You are such a strong rider, and an inspiration to all us chicks on bikes! Karla Johnston []

  4. Hi Karla. Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry that that happened! I seriously wouldn't have finished if it weren't for your dragging me up that entire stretch of windy road. I hope you have a speedy recovery! And thank you for the kind words :)