Saturday, April 24, 2010

Race #36: Big Leap at the Big Frog!

WOW! NO CRASHES! NO MECHANICALS! NO FLATS! TOP TEN!? I will be paying for this later...

I had no idea what to expect from my first endurance event. I have been training a lot, pretty 33% more than last year, but still nervous about a 65 mile mountain bike race with over 10,000 feet of climbing.

I love how just speaking to a few friends gives you great nuggets of wisdom you latch onto. Joe's response to a previous blog post gave me great nutritional advice. Layne narrowed down the proper amount of calories per hour, and I read this Hammer Nutrition article as well. Former teammate Chris told me to look around and take in the scenery, and beware the final descent! Teammate Kris mentioned that it is so fast it is easy to maintain 11 mph on the trail (this became my magic number). Farmer mentioned watch for the wooden bridges.

Bridget couldn't zip her jersey before the start and we roll up and got into the middle of the field just as the gun went off! I followed wheel for a bout 2 seconds and then Bridget starts weaving through people. That puts a little spur in my butt and I freak out and take off — thinking she has my wheel. I even jumped up on the grass for a bit and CXed around a big pack (but lost Bridget like a jerk). It was great, the first 3 miles of the race were an uphill highway that really separated riders by their fitness.

Then we hit the trail. I was really killing it (compared to my recent rides where I only averaged 6-7 mph on trails) but I was tending to "rally car" by accelerating then braking in the blind corners. I told myself to chill out as to not waste a bunch of energy I would need later. Did a great job at being no slouch on that first trail section. And glad I didn't beef it huge on the wet rock section in front of all the spectators.

We hit the first long climb. I was still riding like it was a short MTB race. I was trying to average 8-10 mph on the climb, reeling in riders left and right. It was so fun to do a nice 20-30 minute climb where my little diesel engine can jump pump out a comfortable rate. Brought back memories of Oregon.

Flew in an out of first aid station, just got topped off on water (I had a Nuun tablet to drop in later, but mainly was drinking Heed in my pre-prepped bottles). We set out on a loop of fire roads. Still flying and reeling in people. Blew through aid station 2 and finally caught up with teammate Kris. He was all like "we gotta be in the top 20!" I was mystified but this stoked my fire even more. I was still riding like an idiot — riding the middle chain ring in the climbs. We rode together for about 5 miles or so when these 2 riders caught up. I got that hunger of defending my position and took off up a climb like a bastard. I was stopping for anything — I was peeing off the bike on a downhill!

Then I rode with this one dude from Florida who I kept exchanging positions with 20 about 15 or 20 miles. I would pass him on the climb, and he would descend past me. So we rode a climb together as I settled into a more reasonable rhythm. He flew down another hill and I didn't see him again.

About hour 4 I started to cramp a little. I was popping enduralites and sport legs like a madman after that. I was worried about water but luckily the last aid station popped up. Took on a bit too much food and water just in case...

I was hunting down that guy from Florida but couldn't see him. Then I got slower. I started doing climbs at 4 mph. I was riding with a single-speeder when we finally hit more trail. It started to rain. I put in another dig of speed to keep the wolves at bay but it didn't last too long. I think I ended up losing a spot or two in the final 20 miles, but I was happy to maintain a pace where my legs didn't turn to concrete.

I did the final downhill in the pouring rain during a thunderstorm. AWESOME! Pure fun and adrenaline. It was like a log flume — the trail being acting as a gutter for rain coming down the mountain. I would bounce down these switchbacks over moderate roots and rocks, the dab my leg as I slid my back tire through these blind corners with crazy drop offs over the ledge. It was like a movie (and not Pee Wee's Big Adventure, jerks)!

I hit the final road and killed myself with a final effort just in case anyone was gaining. It turns out my suspicions were correct — there were 2 riders just over a minute behind me.

This was the text message I sent after I saw the results: "F'yeah! 8th place with 5:41:34! Thanks to my homies for some great advice and BioWheels for making my bike flawless!" I am floating on a cloud even though I know the results would have been different if there were more miles of trails and if all the heavy hitters weren't racing the 100 miler.

Congrats to Kris for getting 15th, Teri for also getting 8th, Bjet nabbed 10th on some rough form, and homie Bill got a 7:34 (one of his first races)! Other homies Nathan and Layne crushed the 100 miler with 9 and half hour rides, half of which were in the rain!

So pumped — can't wait for Mohican!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff James! Enjoy your posts. See you out there...Layne