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Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Hiller Than Thou: Tyranny of the Rocks & Trails?

This year's edition of Hillier Than Thou brought out the best in Team Marty's. Props to Greg Spadavecchia for his winning performance at this year's Hillier... Well done, Greg!!! We all have you to chase and aspire to!

This year's edition of Hillier Than Thou also taught at least one member (me) a big lesson! While Hillier did kill me, the previous week's excursion into the mountains, on foot, set the stage.

It goes like this... Last year, Jesse and I rode HTT, and did great. I was thrilled with my first century and happy to have finished were we did given the amount of preparation I had done for the event: none. The longest ride I had done that year was 80 miles and other than the normal hills in the area, I'd done Fiddler's Elbow once. Still, we did great... However, I vowed to be better prepared this year and really race the thing. So I trained for months, and did three centuries, good hills, and handfuls of 70+ mile rides. I was much more prepared this time.

Everything was set... I had begun to taper and rest up for HTT, when I decided it would be OK take part in my niece's fiancé's bachelor day, hiking at New Paltz. One week before HTT, several of us met to go hiking/rock scrambling for the day at Mohonk Reservation. Big mistake! I had never hiked before, but hey, I'm in good shape... I can do this. How bad could it be? We walked, and ran, and scurried up wet and slippery rocks, then ran and walked back some more. The last few miles my legs were torn to shreds. I couldn't put my weight on my right leg without my knee screaming. That was the good leg.

The next day, Sunday, I couldn't move. Everything hurt. Everything. I'd slept poorly, and my knees were super sore. My legs hurt in a way they have never hurt. Different and more so than from even the hardest day on the bike. That day, I knew I had potentially ruined the upcoming Hillier. I was really concerned at this point, but it was too late.

On Monday, I rode the rollers, nice and easy, and could only do it for 30 minutes before I had to stop. Knees hurt, tendons hurt, and I felt unstable walking. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I rode for less than an hour, really easy... and a friend commented that I was limping. On Thursday I had dinner with the family, and my niece's wedding was on Friday!!! Saturday I rested as much as I could, legs still a bit sore.

Sunday, I woke up with a positive attitude. Put aside the past, and concentrate on a great day on the bike. However, it turned out to be one of the worst days on the bike.

At Camp Bernie, I met up with a few Marty's riders and stuck most of the way with Kyle, from the shop in Hackettstown. He was great company, and I really can't wait to ride with Jesse again. Anyway, I kept my HR in check and didn't blow-up on anything. Made sure not to push the pace anymore than I was prepared for. Around mile 25, I knew something wasn't right. I had no real power, and just didn't feel 'right' at all. Still, we forged on and I tried to put it out of my mind. Eventually, my knees began to feel a little strange too... Soon enough, all those little muscles and tendons that I'd nursed all week began to quietly complain. Right before Fiddler's Elbow, I told Kyle he should go on his own, that I wasn't feeling well. I suffered up Fiddler's, when last year, Jesse and I had whistled up it. By the third rest stop, I had been caught by guys who thought it so strange to see me, they said something... "Are you ok? You should be miles ahead of me?" I knew I was done.

I started to suffer up another relatively easy hill, and saw an old lady sitting on her porch, watching. The pain grew so severe I had to get off the bike, and lay down. I was really glad the old lady didn't tell me to get off her grass! I walked the rest of the hill, cramping on every step.

Shortly after the grass incident, on mile 67, I decided that continuing for the sake of finishing was foolish, and wasn't worth injury. It was not easy to go off-course and abandon. I stopped several times before ripping off the number from the bike, unsure if abandoning was right. I crawled another 20 miles back to the car.

Lesson learned? Keep your priorities straight. Just like they say, don't use a new pair of shoes, or try a new shammy cream for race day, then too, don't try a new, potentially difficult activity, without allowing plenty of recovery time. I will hike again, just not one week before 2009 Hillier!!!

5 comments:

Lou Frankel said...

good review of the Hilliers 2008 edition. i was there(along with my 2 compadres)from Atlantic City,NJ(flat as a board) we all finished and were fine the next day and through the wk,more practice on hills would've helped, went up most hills with the exception of Fiddler's Elbow and and Iron Bridge,where i had to walk a great deal. 2 of us did a century ,1wk before in PHila area and outskirts called the Scenic Tour of the Skuykill Valley, covering 100miles rolling through a few counties from center city philly to valley forge and chester counties, some preparation but nothing like nwestern nj hills. i was very humbled last sunday 9/21/08 by mr. K.Chu's 2008 rendition of the Hillier than Thou, but we all vow to be more prepared for 2009's edition.

Hector Vilches said...

Hey, Lou... thanks, and well done! Finishing is an accomplishment. I know there are some first place finishers that DID walk up Fiddler's Elbow, and still won. And like you say, we'll all go back for more next year.

Cheers!
Hector

Scott said...

It seems that once again it is overlooked that the first 15 to 18 finishers missed a check in point. A check in point if missed takes about 10 minutes off your time. In other words they took a short cut. I worked very hard to get a top 10 finish.

The group that I was riding with of 6 riders was at times in sight of the first group of riders. We went to that missed checkin point on VanSycle Road and were the first riders to reach that point. The road was well marked with the Hillie's ball and arrow and a big red word "REST" painted in the road. We went straight to the "REST" point and doubled back and went up the road off of VanSycle.

Hence at the finish we were very disapointed that not much was done about it. We followed the rules rode more miles than those that finished ahead of us. I am sure that I would have had a top 10 result if everyone follow the rules.

Anyone have some comments on this?

Jamie Troy said...

I officially finished in 8th place, and I stopped at every rest stop and went to every check point. I also have a suspicion that some riders did not complete the entire course. I passed the ninth place rider in the last 2 miles and he had the same count of riders in front that I had, but somehow our count was officially incorrect. Not sure how it happened, but I guess life's not always fair and I shouldn't expect it to be. Over all I really enjoyed the ride and am thankful that the organizers put on such a fine event. I'm happy with my performance and my time and that's what really matters.

Hector Vilches said...

This is news to me. However, might I be one of those that people noticed cutting the course short? At mile 67 I made a left instead of a right and headed back. Of course, I eventually hooked up on the course and followed a few of the top 8 finishers as they each passed me... lol

When I crossed the finish I did not register as finished, but the race official yelled out that I would have been eighth... He didn't know, and I was too bummed to mention, that I had cut the course. I even made sure my number was off the bike, so I would not be in the results.

Scott, I agree with Jamie. If there were those that cheated, their dishonesty does not take away from your accomplishment or time.