The Donut Derby is a fun race meant to raise money for the CCAP. Basically riders do a 3 mile loop, seven laps. You can eat donuts to reduce your time - a donut is worth 3 minutes. The idea is to balance the donuts and the riding so you ride fast and eat lots. Although I wasn't keen on blowing up my diet I figured I'd have at least one donut, and I knew that it'd be hard so I didn't worry much beyond that.
It didn't help that I was really sore because of a kind of ridiculous reason. Thursday I did a total of 16 seconds of high rpm work. Friday I felt pretty sore and it got worse as the day went on. Saturday morning, the day of the Donut Derby, I could barely walk down the stairs.
Because the Donut Derby is more of a fun thing, probably the closest you can get in a road based event to a 'cross race in terms of attitude, I packed my bike as is, meaning with the regular clinchers, no changes to anything.
Since I happened to gather my winter gear for a future post on, well, winter wear, my gear bag was totally stocked.
Crucially I left the gearing intact - 53/44 up front and an 11-23 in the back. I vaguely remembered some talk about a short steep hill, and I pictured a 100m hill at 18%. Easy peasy.
We headed out to the race, the Missus, Junior, and myself. I did make a tactical decision concerning breakfast. Since we'd be heading out around breakfast time I decided to skip breakfast. This would give me more "donut capacity" and give me an excuse to eat more than one. I had half a cup of coffee and then we headed out.
We arrived and it was bitterly cold, 31 degrees F by the car thermometer. In my winter gear photoshoot I did the tights last - apparently I left them sitting next to the gear bag because they weren't in it. I also never located my winter jacket (it's in the Expedition somewhere, in our storage bay) so I didn't have that either.
I looked at my long sleeve jersey - suddenly it seemed much lighter weight than I remembered. Luckily I had two base layers and all my other stuff.
I kitted up - base layer (wicking), base layer (insulating), LS jersey, thermal vest, and wind vest. Bib knickers. Booties. Winter gloves.
I rolled out and it didn't seem bad. I was glad I had knickers, the tights would have been too warm.
Due to some parking logistics I was back at the car, a mile away from the start, at 10:02 AM. The race was supposed to start at 10.
I rode pretty hard to the start and found that I hadn't missed the start.
When I got to the start.
Aidan, leader of CCNS and the driving force behind CCAP, was making some final announcements. Later I learned I missed something about "straws", but more on that later.
We started off and I though, wow, if road races started like this I'd do a lot more of them. We casually pedaled up the minor grade leading away from the start/finish area. I admit I was surprised at how slowly we started off but within a few hundred yards the reason hit me pretty hard - this sucker got steep!
After the ride I told the Missus that it was a really hard hill, maybe a third of a mile long, and it just seemed to go on forever.
At any rate I shifting into a mid-range gear and realized that, okay, I need to shift down. I moved the lever.
I looked down.
My "mid-range" gear was my bottom gear, a 44x23. A bit of worry crossed my mind when I remembered that the cassette on my training wheel was just an 11-23, not an 11-25.
I was pushing a chainring bigger than the big ring on my mountain bike.
Everyone quickly dropped me, including a rider that stopped to walk, remounted, and passed me while giving me encouragement.
We dropped down a descent but I couldn't enjoy it much because we got stuck behind a car. I didn't want to pass it so I waited until it went straight and we all went left.
(I should point out that when I looked at my stats later I was fastest when "held up" behind the car, at 45+ mph. Apparently sitting in its slipstream made things seem slow.)
I got back to the start/finish area and felt relieved that it wasn't all packed up and gone. I'd gone so slowly that I half expected to see leaves blowing across the road and not much more.
First lap, the donut stop on the right.
The Missus with Junior in his Carpe Diem Racing blanket.
The immense effort on the hill, combined with my mini time trial to the start, had warmed me up nicely. I didn't feel like giving some of that away by stopping to eat a donut so I rode through the feed zone, waving hi to the Missus and a confused Junior (he puzzles when he sees a lot of cyclists and one of them says hi back to him).
I hit the hill and realized that, wow, this thing was steep.
The dirt part of the hill, complete with skeletal cheering person.
A brave soul or two made the trek partway up the hill to cheer on their riders. They cheered on the others as well, like me.
I was going so slow they could have read the chainring size stamped on the side of the chainring, that's how slow I was moving.
I got pretty hot making this all out effort, trying not to fall over, and I decided that I should get rid of the thermal vest. My arms were fine but my torso started getting hot.
On the next lap I pulled in for a pit stop, opposite the donuts, where the Missus stood with Junior.
The Missus, at the end of lap two, during my pit stop.
After I ditched the vest I watched a couple groups lap me and then I set off again. I struggled mightily up the hill as rider after ride rode by me like I was standing still.
Well, since I was doing all I could not to fall over I wasn't going much faster than "standing still" so that makes sense.
As I went over the top a couple riders went by, including Devil Gear's Jeff W. He's given me help in the past so I decided that I'd try and give him a hand here. After I recovered a touch I pulled through and upped the pace.
Jeff W just before I pulled through.
With no cars in the way, with a couple practice laps, we flew down the descent. He backed off a touch but was immediately back on as the road straightened out. Although he eased as we hit the hard left he went blowing by shortly after. I didn't see him again until he rode by me again.
The Missus moved to the sunny bridge for lap 3.
Slowly I made my way back to the start/finish. The Missus had moved into the sun, and combined with the temps now in the 40s things felt much warmer.
I rolled up to the hill and started my death crawl up the thing.
One of the CCNS guys, Hunter, was taking pictures. I told him I ought to win the Stupid Gear award because I had such a stupid high gear. I mean, okay, Thierry Claveyrolat won the polka dot jersey in the Tour one year pushing something insane like a 46T inner ring, but I'm not Claveyrolat, not by a long shot.
The fact that Hunter and I had this conversation while I rode all of about 20 feet shows just how slowly I was going up the hill. When I looked at Strava my low speed on the hill was in the 2.x mph range.
Hunter and I talk.
I descended alone this time, not going quite as fast. I eased to see if two guys behind me would catch me before the descent really got going but no deal so I went on my own. Just before the last little plunge they blew by me.
Amos blows by me, another in tow.
Although I followed them they rode away from me after the hard left.
No Missus on the next lap - she was changing Junior. Same deal with the hill, death crawl. Over the top a rider in Daisy Dukes caught me and we rode the rest of the lap together.
Daisy Duke and myself roll to the finish.
I had finished five laps of seven at that point and since the Missus was still missing I figured I'd do one more lap. No donuts or anything, I just started going again.
As I started up the hill I got that familiar weak, dizzy, cold sweat feeling - I was bonking. Doing all that work, no breakfast, in the chilly morning... I turned around and rolled back down the hill.
Good time for a donut.
I picked out one, drizzled in caramel and chocolate. A volunteer was kindly sticking a straw in it, I guess to let us pick up donuts without getting dirty. I told her that I didn't need the straw and took the donut.
The Missus showed up with Junior, and although he was in good cheer we really had to leave to get home. As we were getting ready to go one of the Biker's Edge guys, Rob C, showed me a fist full of straws.
"Now that's what I'm talking about!" he said as he rolled by.
Ends up that to get your 3 minutes off per donut you give the straw to the official and they tick off how many 3 minute increments you get credited to your time. So by being polite and saving the volunteer a straw I missed the chance to take 3 minutes off my time.
We packed up the car. I struggled so much to do the most simple tasks that the Missus, concerned with my sore legs, offered to drive. I gladly took her up on that offer as even sitting down hurt my legs a lot.
After we got home we had a bunch of things we had to get done. Before we got started I looked at Strava and saw that the "third of a mile hill" was actually closer to 0.7 miles. Not all of it was 2 mph steep but, still, that sort of explained why I felt to absolutely destroyed when I stopped.
I'll have to make it back next year. I'll skip breakfast again but I'll be eating donuts from the beginning. I'll collect straws or whatever they use as markers. I'll put on some lower gear and use some wider tires (more on the tires later). And maybe I'll even get to do the full seven laps.