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It’s a well known fact that Redemption Race Productions likes to up the ante when it comes to an ‘off the wall’ race…from a Half Marathon that starts inside a cave, to a trail race that finishes at the top of a mountain – their event line up even includes an adventure race featuring a giant inflatable obstacle course and river toobing

As fate would have it, Redemption Racing was called to come out and time the (Katy, TX) Tour De Donut…. (go ahead and click on the link, you need to)

And so Brian (the race director) thought (or so I imagine he thought)…. let’s make a REALLY Texas-ified version of this—none of those wussy Donuts! This is TEXAS! Donuts simply will not do, especially when we have these wonderful little peppers we call Jalapenos (pronounced Hella-PAIN-YO!) We need a race that’s certain to put a fire in your belly! (and later, your Southern regions)

And thus, the Tour de Jalapeno was born. A 26 mile road race through the rolling hills of San Marcos, (nearly the same cycle course that I rode and defeated during the Tri For Old Glory Olympic Distance Triathlon)…the twist…Jalapenos,—a lot of them— and you get a time deduction for eating them… -1 minute per Jalapeno….

TDJ_logo_whiteI’ll get on with the review shortly, but first, a little about my bike  my riding companion:

It may seem odd, but I have made so many changes to my faithful Esmeralda Consuela Bonita since I got her, that she no longer seemed to behave the same. She’s sleeker, faster, lighter…the feel of the ride and her general appearance  have changed so much that I felt she needed a new name, and I asked many of my friends to help me choose from the following list of names:

Of all these, Amelia was the name that won out, both among my friends and in my head…plus, it feels really geeky cool to say, “…come along Pond…” in a faux-english accent when I am tackling a tough climb or settling in for a  40+ MPH white knuckle descent…

…so now you know, and knowing is half the battle…

So, allons-y with the review!

Being that I was just at this venue for the last race I had competed in (and I wouldn’t have to worry about transition set-up and body-marking) I got to sleep in a bit later then I usually do on Tri-days. Since it was set to be a hot and humid day, I chose to forego my usual morning coffee and subsequently forgot my usual race-day race director bribe (a cup of coffee).

I followed the driving directions included with my race packet, and arrived with plenty of time to kill,  so I checked Amelia’s tires and gave her a final pre-race once over. I was confident all would be well with her.

One decision I agonized about was whether or not to bring my flat tire kit… its a bit heavy, with tools and a pump and such, (ok, heavy as in an extra pound) but remembering the pot-holes along the route and the chip-set roads, I decided I should have it with me. Murphy’s law clearly states that if I hadn’t brought it, I would have wound up with at least 2 flats, but since I brought the kit, I wound up never needing it!

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

With Amelia in tip-top shape, I donned my cycling sandals and headed over to the starting area, where my treacherous lack of coffee soon became all too apparent as Brian stood at the top a small rise with an empty hand where his MuddyJ provided cup of coffee should be, forlornly looking on as if I had just told him the saddest news you could imagine …sorry my friend, I am so, so sorry…

Thoughtfully, the crew at RRP had set up some bike racks for the riders to rack their bikes before and after the race, which totally beats leaning them against trees or lying it down on the ground. (just a quick bit of etiquette – if you see a bicycle lying on the ground, leave it lying there… It is not unheard of for cyclists to lay their bike on the ground instead of leaning it against something to eliminate the risk of it falling over)

I passed the time chatting with other cyclists, and it soon became apparent there would be many more people not eating jalapenos then would be eating them. I thought this might mean there would be some serious Jalapeno eaters…I was going to have to REALLY step up my game if I was going to take home a prize in this race, and I was planning to take the whole enchilada!

As the race start was approaching, Brian (the race director) gave a pre-race briefing, warning this time about how bumpy the course was in the first miles-especially about how it could bounce your water bottles right out of your bottle cages, as well as letting everyone know there would be ample sag vehicles and motorcycle support not only for the race portion, but also for the 50 mile tour option.

We all stripped off our helmets and bowed our heads as he led us in a pre-race prayer, and then with the pre-race stuff taken care of, there was little to do except start the race, so we all lined up at the start in two groups.

There were two race options for this event, with or without Jalapeno eating, with the non-Jalapeno eating riders leaving out first. After they left, the really brave riders (myself included) who were here in the  and filled with the Spirit of the Tour de Jalapeno sauntered up to the starting line.

I started at the very front, taking the lead quickly and holding it for an incredibly short time. By the time we were 1/2 a mile in, a break-away pack of riders sailed passed Amelia and I as if we were standing still… but I would make it up with the jalapenos…

I had a plan!

The first few miles were as bumpy as I remembered from the Tri for Old Glory, so I held on for dear life and held onto my drops as I tried to hover over my saddle to reduce the impact to my sensitive bits. I experimented with the idea of drafting off other riders, (and repaid the favor of course) before I settled into a comfortable pace. There was ample cloud cover, but the day was still very hot, and the humidity was nowhere near friendly to racing at all, so I didn’t push too hard in the early miles.

Sooner then I might have hoped, the first Jalapeno station came into view. In reality, I almost went sailing right past it. I had been expecting to see a few of the riders ahead of me stopped at it and eating Jalapenos, but the front-runners had all gone sailing right past it … I laid into Amelia’s brakes and came to a skidding stop…

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I held out my hand and said, “HIT ME”

I was handed a red solo cup FULL of the devil peppers…

“There’s five to a cup”, said one of the volunteers.

Throwing caution, (and good sense) to the winds, I dug in with my bare hands, picking up each pepper by the stem and chomping it down with as few bites as I could manage.

I was about 4 peppers deep in my second cup and reaching for ANOTHER when my mouth and stomach finally caught up to my ambition and I suddenly realized…

THESE THINGS ARE HOT..LIKE REALLY FREAKING HOT!

I suddenly found myself in a diaphoretic state, with every pore in my body pouring out sweat in a overly pointless attempt to eliminate some of the heat and fire that I was intent on shovelling into my belly. By the third pepper of my third cup, I could no longer see through the sweat pouring into my eyes, and I didn’t dare to wipe at them with my capsaicin coated hands. With every cup of peppers I screamed through managed to eat through, a thoughtful volunteer handed me a cup of cool water, which I drank not because of the heat in my mouth, but because I was pretty certain I was losing WAY too much water through my pores.

Not all the peppers were created equal either… some of the cups had special peppers that were about the size of my fist…those really sucked… and there isn’t any other way I can describe them…

I polished off my 4th cup and decided to continue on. I held out my wrist and a volunteer marked my wrist band with a 20…for 20 peppers total!

I tried to maintain my previous pace, but the belly-full of fire demanded I slow down for a little while. Soon enough though, my mouth stopped burning, and I settled back into my previous pace … and then I hit the second Jalapeno stop at mile 17…there were 10 miles between the 2 stations and a more then just a few of them are lost to me in a haze of sweat-stung eyes and tummy ache…

And, of course, the photographer was in attendance at this station:

I made it through three cups at this station, and threw in 1 more pepper for good measure… a helpful volunteer noticed the sweat pouring off of my face and handed me a paper towel, which I managed to use to mop my face up and wipe my hands with before it combusted…(ok, it didn’t really catch fire, but I could happen)

My wristband marked 16, I re-clipped my helmet strap, clipped into my clipless pedals, said, “come along Pond”, and headed back out onto the road to finish the final 9 miles of the race.

Thankfully, much of this portion was flat. The few small climbs that it had were brutal on me, (most likely because I had enough peppers to drop a professional competitive eater in my belly) and I did my best. In the final 4 miles, I got a second wind, and tore down the biggest descent on the course at 33mph.

By the time I hit the final turn back into the San Marcos Ski Ranch, I was completely pumped up with adrenaline and spinning my crank as fast as I could.

The final approach was into the wind as I attacked it, and I tucked into my aero-bars to get as small and aero-dynamic as I possibly could. I pedalled hard, pouring everything that was left in legs into the final approach as I hammered out the final two miles at a hard earned 21mph… and then, it was done.

1016069_607858989236960_402595096_nI stopped and racked Amelia before heading over to the timing trailer to report my Jalapeno consumption… I had to show the timing guy (Rich) my wristband as proof. I had eaten so many at the first stop, they had called ahead, so he knew I had at least twenty…

“36!, dude, that might take the win”

I crossed my fingers….

“So close… you missed first place overall by less then a second and a half”

So, to recap,  I placed first in my age group, and took second place over-all… for a marathon distance bicyle race…

I am 100% ok with that!

I walked around, stretching out my legs and high-fiving other Jalapeno eating racers:

…And all felt right with the world…

…for about 15 minutes…

…but what goes in…must come out…

I stuck around for the awards ceremony and after party, despite having to make repeated trips to the port-o-potties…

this photo pretty much says it all... I won my age group...but at what cost?

this photo pretty much says it all… I won my age group…but at what cost?

I will spare you, my faithful readers, the oh-so-gory details of what happened next, but I think the following pretty much sums up how it felt:

…and to add insult to injury, later that night, just when I thought the hurting was done, came the seeds…

"with great victory...comes GREAT PAIN"-Brian Schmidt, RRP race director

“with great victory…comes GREAT PAIN”-Brian Schmidt, RRP race director

I may not have won over-all, but I did take second place… and in doing so I consumed more Jalapenos then anyone else… making me the (self-proclaimed) Jalapeno-King…a title I will defend next year… so all challenger’s need to bring their “A+” game…and a bottle of pepto!

I sure do hope I feel better soon, so I can resume training…cause in 6 days, I head back to Boerne lake for my second Olympic distance Tri… The Greater Gator!

2013GreaterGator_logoFollowed shortly thereafter by the horrible hills of the Bastrop “Lost Pines Triathlon”

2013BastropTri_Logo

 

I often forget to mention this, but do head over to the Redemption Race Productions Facebook page and check out all the awesome photos they post (for free)..their Photographer does a great job and I often use his photos in my reviews!

…before I forget, stay tuned and check back frequently … in the next few days, I should very well be hosting another Spartan Race giveaway as they officially announce some VERY exciting news!… keep “tuned in ” in mind…

Stay Muddy My Friends, and Always Tri Your Best!