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Transplant Athlete
Thursday, June 01, 2006
  Mountains Of Misery 2006

I finally got my litespeed back together, new chain, new rear derailleur, compact cranks, and Selle Italia SLR saddle. Its lighter and has better gearing for climbing. I took it out for the one of Crista's rides on Saturday and realized right from the get-go that the saddle was too low. I got about 7.5 miles before I got off the bike and tried to adjust the saddle. Of course, the seat post was frozen in the frame, so I turned around and went home. If I had kept going, I was afraid I would have damaged my knees.

It took me HOURS to get the seat post free. When I put the bike together, I was told not to lube the carbon fiber seatpost, but I've had it with the seatpost seizing in the frame and I slathered on the the grease.

The bike was ready for Mountains of Misery. This was my second year going down there and I was anxious to best my time from last year (10 hours 50 minutes - 11.5 mph avg).

I woke up at 1am and left by 2am. Drove down to Blacksburg and stopped at a Waffle House along the way. Bruce and his friend Matt showed up around 6:30am. We were all off by 7am. I was able to stick with the lead group for a good long time, longer than last year. But, I did get dropped and rode with the second group for awhile, eventually, my group caught up to Bruce and Matt and their group. A short time later, the 100 milers came blowing by and I lost Bruce, but I knew he wasn't far ahead. I passed him when he pulled into the second rest stop. I pushed on. His group caught me as I was pulling out of the rest stop at the base of Potts Mountain. Bruce and I rode together up Potts Mountain. Every once in awhile a couple riders would pass us. I like the view from that climb. There are long stretches where you can see out over the valley. Bruce says I dropped him on the climb, but he caught back up at the top. We both stopped at the third rest stop, I mixed up some Perpetuem while Bruce got in and out quickly. Matt got in and out quickly, but missed a turn and we were soon riding together.

The next 10 miles or so was slightly downhill, and I felt the presence of a small group forming behind me. A triathlete attacked, but it wasn't definitive, and I was soon on his wheel. He made a comment about the others not having good manners because they were drafting us. I was actually happy to do the pulling, because its usually me doing the wheel sucking. I pulled for about 8 miles and then dropped back, but we hit a couple of small rollers and I got stuck behind some slower riders and lost contact with the group.

I arrived at rest stop at the base of the second climb and Bruce was pumping up his tire. I had covered 66 miles in a little over 4 hours.

The second climb was my least favorite climb, its short and steep and very little scenery. An amazing thing happened on the climb though. A rider came up from behind and said, "Hi Lou." (Our first names were printed on our numbers). He then said, "You wouldn't happen to be Lou Lamoureux would you?" When I replied in the affirmative, he said he was hoping to meet me on the ride. I was pretty perplexed at this point and not because my brain wasn't getting any oxygen. He then told me his name, the company he used to work for and reminded me that I had demonstrated SolidWorks to him. THAT WAS NEARLY 10 YEARS AGO...Damn, he's got a good memory. I was impressed. We rode together up the climb, down the other side, and through the next two rest stops. Talking with Brian really made the miles fly by. My best wishes to Brian Nutter and his Wife, they are expecting a baby in about 7 weeks.

I had lost track of Brian briefly until I overcooked a tight right hander and ended up pretty darn close to the gravel on the far side of the road, and when I looked up, Brian was 30 or 40 feet ahead, I learned later, he had gone a little wide on the turn as well.

I suffered up the third climb, but it felt better than last year. Then it was mostly downhill to the Newport Rec Center. I detoured through the parking lot to pick up some more endurolytes. I was out of perpetuem at this point, so I was grabbing PB&J's and bananas from the rest stops. Once at the Newport Rec Center though, it was easy to just tick away the miles. 18 miles...11 miles...Then 2 miles to the next rest stop. 4 miles. Then the climbing started. I remember last year drafting a tandem in this section. About 2.5 miles from the top. Some volunteers were passing out water, and I stopped to catch my breath, already, people were walking the climb. Then I pushed on to the final rest stop about 2 miles from the summit. They had PowerGel there and I was in desperate need of fuel, but I knew it was going to be tough digesting the calories while climbing. Some were abandoning, which I couldn't understand. Two miles from the finish. After 123 miles and around 13,000 feet of climbing, to abandon so close to the finish line...About a mile from the finish, I caught up to a small group of walkers who stopped briefly and were blocking the road with two bikes in a police roadblock formation. I had to swing wide left to get around them and all I could manage was a grunt to alert them that they were blocking me. I just kept thinking, I'm on a lighter bike, I've lost nearly ten pounds since last year, I have easier gearing, why is this climb so hard? I could only manage grunts to the volunteers lining the road in the final 300 meters. I picked up the pace and sprinted for the line. Its important to always finish strong. I could only grunt responses to the volunteers as they took my bike to the van for transport down the mountain. Bruce had finished about 15 minutes before me and Matt finished about 15 minutes after me, I had passed him on the climb as he was walking. Once again, we had to wait for a van off the mountain and ride down was harrowing.

Did I mention that on the ride up, I had seen a brake pad from a car lying on the road? I doubt some local mechanic was out there doing repairs...Oh yeah, I brought a camera, but I was pushing so hard to beat last years time that I didn't take any pictures. Sorry. In the end, I was just 18 minutes faster than last year. That's only about a 3% improvement. On the excuse side, I don't think my body was used to the bike, both my position and the new gearing were awkward.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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