Monday, August 8, 2011

Race #86: Like Nascar in the Woods, but with Cramps

Photo by Kimberly Sink on Flickr

I was really happy to have made the podium at last year's 6 Hours of John Bryan "Race for Relief." But in the past year the competitive landscape has changed and now some new faces have come on the scene looking super fast and becoming new friends. Stephen Huddle just raced the Continental Divide and I am sure has the legs of the energizer rabbit, and Brent Mayer rides like a MotoCross racer with his legs as the engine. And Marty, as always, is a badass. Marty and I both have been dealing with reduced training from life in general and a busier than usual cross-country MTB racing season. I knew this year was going to be tough and it took the edge off my nerves going into this race pretty much knowing I would be lucky to get fourth. This was to be my third John Bryan race and each year I use lesson from the previous year to race more efficiently.

Lap 1: 0:53:41
I had a hell of a run in the Le Mans start this year. I guess the 90 degree runs up the stairs to Mount Adams have paid off. That was, until I got to the bikes. I placed my bike 3 rows in from the right, only to find some last minute hosers had thrown in some extra rows and my bike disappeared. Once found, I made up ground on the gravel road leading into the trail. Marty flew by looking great. A paceline formed of me, Joe and a bunch of homies from Rogue. We were really flying that lap. Stephen was on the front for a while and I think he overheated his motor, Damn. Sam Dombrozsi was killing it on his cross bike, doing jumps off all the obstacles.

Lap 2: 0:54:09
Tried to mellow out a bit and find my own pace. But Bjet yellow that I was only 30 seconds down on the next place so I started going at it again. Around the end of the lap I caught up to them and it was Marty. I was feeling a bit fresh so I jumped in front and we rode the rest of the lap together. When we came in Dan mentioned we were 2 minutes down on the leader. I was like "Geez, who is this robot." Marty had to stop to mix bottles. I had my secret weapon, I was wearing a CamelBack that was allowing me not to pit for the first 3 laps. Thus saving me time in the pit like Nascar or Formula 1.

Lap 3: 0:55:34
Out there alone trying to keep a decent pace. Rode with Darin and some kid from RedZone. It was nice to keep a fast pace and do less work by sitting in behind and getting some benefits of drafting. By the end of the lap I was starting to feel the effects of the race. Compared to last year I was flying, every lap faster than my fastest lap the previous year. Maybe first place would blow-up and I would win?! I had been going at it like a cross-country race, like the finish line was at mile 30. Add to that my reduced training and I was starting to fade. I started to cramp. I came into the finish line and saw Marty just behind me, and Brent was with him. I thought to myself, "oh well, you're getting fourth today."

Pit: 0:00:30
I had a second CamelBack all filled and ready to go. Plus I kept all my gels in my back pocket so little time was lost refueling.

Lap 4: 0:55:43
I can't remember too much of this lap. I think Brent passed me. I think I spent most of the lap about 10 seconds behind him until my leg cramps got the better of me when we hit the little, tiny hills! Ugh.

Lap 5: 1:00:28
I passed Brent when he pitted but he caught up to me on the twisty section. I was tired. I was just trying to do a recovery lap hoping that I could finish the race. My stomach was starting to sour for the first time in my riding career — I think I was over-fueling with Roctanes and EFS and I felt dehydrated, cottonmouthed and like I had a brick in my belly. This awesome spectator in the woods was ringing a cowbell and handed me a water bottle on 2 laps (THANK YOU) — I needed all the water I could get. My body was screaming. Hands hurting, back sore. I lost the core strength and endurance I had at Mohican. Brent caught me and we made a gentlemens' agreement just to recover, just to get some miles out of the way. A few minutes later this guy passed and said he was first place in Solo. Brent and I were like "Dammit, we both had our wheel in front for a few minutes and didn't know it!" After a while Brent got away again. I was wooped but still in third trying to give Marty a run for his money.

Pit: 0:00:54
Tossed off my last CamelBack and grabbed some bottles. Noticed my shifting was getting funky so I lubed the chain. I tried to start stretching because my quads, hammies and groin were spasming and cramping. But then Marty rolled up and I decided I better bail. I gave him a good luck pat on the his butt and took off.

Lap 6: 0:58:21
I tried to up the pace again. But I was feeling pretty bad still. Then Marty passed me looking pretty fresh on one of the access roads. Part of me wanted to surrender but part of me wanted to fight it out. With two laps to go who knows what could happen. I began to ride with a higher cadence to keep my momentum up while not putting too much strain on my aching muscles. It worked. Somehow I passed Brent. I spent the rest of the lap with the same focus: speed without too much exertion. Smoother lines, smarter pedaling. Plus I was smoother without that CamelBack weighing on me, those things can be hot and clumsy.

Pit: 0:00:20
Grabbed one last bottle from Bjet and took off trying to hold onto Third Place.

Lap 7: 0:56:43
I rode it like I stole it. At first I was delirious but finally I woke up and really started hauling ass like last year. I tried to crush every uphill with my high-cadence spin, a mix of power and maintaining momentum. I kept hearing something behind me, was it Brent? Little did I know that it was my spare chain link jingling in my pocket. I felt really good and I think I was pedaling smarter and smoother on this lap. I came across the line and saw Marty all torn up. He said he got first and killed himself to hold his lead. Somewhere I had passed the former leader of the race and didn't realize it. I got second place! Whoa!

Finale: 6:36:25
Man it was a blast to ride at the sharp end of the race, constantly battling for position. The top 4 riders really went at it today. That was the most competitive endurance race I have ridden, and I think the fastest. Thank you to the organizers and volunteers of Race for Relief, as always it was a very fun event. The trails were great, well-marked and thanks for the food! Too bad a thunderstorm rolled in and I couldn't enjoy a beer with my teammates in my new trophy pint glass.

Next year I have to double-check my caloric intake per hour, maybe I went too far:
1 50oz Hydration Pack with 4 scoops of First Endurance EFS
1 56oz Camelback with 4.5 scoops of First Endurance EFS
3 Podium Bottles of EFS
3 12oz Water Bottles
7 Roctaines

Well, I got the 6 Hours of DINO coming up!

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