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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Big Bear Race Report

Ok here's the short version. I didn't put in a lot of fast laps but I put in a lot of miles, 65 of them in 5 hard hard laps. By the middle of the night I lost half my team but felt pretty good so put a double in late night early morning and finished up with lap 5 before noon.

Here's the long of it, if you care to read: My team was Three Ring Circus I was second in line, Jamie our first rider came in with a calf injury and that ended up being his only lap. My first lap I felt like crap. A week with sleep less than 6 hours a night up late trying to repair lights, bikes and get ready in general. Then I stood around in the sun letting my head bake. All of this had me feeling like dog. While I was out riding the lap I felt even worse. I turned in a 1:28. I was hoping for something closer to 1:20 mark. I wasn't impressed with my time but that lap made me the 2nd fastest in the Vets class so I guess it was all right.

With Jamie's injury we were all going out couple hours sooner. The 2nd lap I died about 3/4 of the way through. It was pretty disappointing. I was having a good lap but after the downhill seven miles in I had a total breakdown. Got tired, shaky, and really hungry. When I say tired I mean 'can't stay up on the bike tired' and it was weird; my legs didn't feel spent I just had no energy in me. I think I had a case of exercise induced hypoglycemia. I tried to ignore the hunger and keep riding but after a bit I stopped and started to frantically searching my pack for a gel. I came up empty. The laps are only 13 miles so I didn't pack food. I continued dragging myself through the course. When I got to the one mile climb near the end I was so tired I could barely walk the hill. Eventually I had to stop and I started begging for food as riders came up the climb. I just felt so weak and hungry. Someone finally threw me a GU. About 10 minutes later I started to get back some strength and finished a little stronger. Terrible lap time; 2 hours almost on the mark.

After my second lap I handed off to Gregg to do his first night lap ate some spicy Jambalya and went to bed. Jamie woke me up after an hour and a half of sleep to go down and meet Mike. It was amazing an hour and a half sleep and I felt totally refreshed. I woke up like it was a bran new day. I went down to the hand off area and waited for Mike.... and waited... and waited... and waited. By 2:30 I was really starting to get worried. The trails were muddy after the 3/4 inch of rain earlier in the week and all the bike traffic just slathered mud all over the rocks. When the dew settled at night the rocks and roots got like ice. It took Mike almost three hours to finish, he was falling all over the place and he called it quits after his second lap. Too tired to stay upright on the rocks, he was afraid he was really going to really do himself in. When I saw how bad his palm had swelled from falling I can't say I blame him.

So when Mike comes in he tells me Gregg is really whipped, needs a longer break and doesn't want to go back out till morning. Since Gregg wasn't going out right away I decide to go out for two laps and then I'd wake Gregg up when I came in. I figure I could handle two if I paced myself .

To do two laps I was going to need more battery time so here was the plan: Jamie's half used HID bar light would take me through the first lap. My head lamp good for 1:45 at 15 watts would take me through most of lap two. Mikes bar light should have another half an hour to take me to the finish of lap 2.

The plan was foiled when half way through my first lap the HID went dim and had to switch to my head lamp. I was trying to stretch the battery life and ride on 5 watts of power but that was working out horribly. I was running into things, stalling, trying to find a line, and crashing all over the place groping around in the dark. I tried leeching light off a few other riders but they were riding a one lap pace and eventually ride away from me on the climbs. Near the end of the first lap I resigned that I didn't have enough battery power and was thinking I was would have to quit. Still trying to figure out a way to do this I remembered Gregg's head lamp may have enough. Turns out it's good for six hours. Gregg helped me gather it up mount it and 30 minutes later I was off for a second lap.

So after messing around for half an hour with the lights the sun is coming up 30 minutes later. I wasn't expecting it to be bright enough to ride under the canopy until 6:00 but the sky was clear and a lot more light must get through the trees when the sun is at that angle. By 5:30 there was plenty of light and I shut the lights down. Second lap went pretty well but I started to die off with about three miles left to go. After two laps I just couldn't imagine how those 24 hour solo riders were managing it. I was brutal out there. I had a time of 2:06 and 2:05 for a back to back laps. I was happy with that.

After Gregg came back in I did a final fifth lap doing a 1:53 and made it in before noon. That was it for our team.

The highlight of the race was lap five when I got to mix it up with Susan Haywood. She came up behind me as we were nearing the 'pre downhill' before the big big downhill. As she came up behind me I cranked it up a couple notches knowing we'd be descending in a few yards. By the bottom I managed to put a lead on her and kept enough momentum to get me up a good part of the climb. This was my fifth lap and I was whooped and out of fuel so I let moved aside to let her pass at the top of the short climb before the big big downhill. Was able to quickly make up the distance and caught back up to her shortly on the way down. I have to say wow what a talented rider. I could keep on her wheel, but while I was smashing and bouncing through the rocks, she was just needling through them at light speed. She had all the grace and seemed to be doing it all with about a fifth of the effort. Amazing rider. I got to the bottom and my upper body was just spent I'm thinking she felt a little different.

All in all it was a good time. I got to ride my bike.. a lot and that's what I came to do. It was fun.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

24 Hours of Big Bear Approaches

Saturday is the 24 Hours of Big Bear. I've done Big Bear twice in the West Virginia Mountain Bike Series. It's a fast paced thirteen mile race with quite a bit of technical riding and a several big kahuna scary fast sections. I know how tired am after one single 13 mile lap. You only road less than an hour and a half and you feel so beat. When I get on my bike a couple days later my legs are so tired you feel like you can't make em go. This Saturday myself and my team of four will be doing about four of these 13 mile races (laps) in a 24 hour period. We'll each take our turn at a lap pass the baton to the next team mate take about a four hour break until it's our turn again. We'll start Saturday at noon, race through the night and probably through the rain and the last guy will finish their lap some time after noon on Sunday.

I don't know how I'm going to hold out. I'll just have to see. It's going to be exhausting but I don't plan on holding back much. My first lap out I'll maybe not mash on uber steep sections to try avoid burning out my legs for the entire race but that's it. Every other way I'm pushing it. We'll see how I hold up on lap 2 and lap 3. My strategy for pacing myself is to not really pace my self. I'll know by lap 3 how this works out. If I don't push it that first lap I'll never really know how hard I can go.

Other than that, my strategy is to keep myself fed. This year the one thing I've learned is that if you keep yourself fueled it's amazing how long and hard you can push yourself. So what's on the menu. Potato soup, bread and bananas. All carbs, low fat, minimal protein. Fat and protein take you liver hours to process into energy. Eat as soon as you cross the line so you can fueled up for the next lap, hopefully my teamies will help me out with that. Other than that we'll just have fun.

Still trying to figure out communication logistics. If a teamie has a major mechanical we're allowed to send a rescuer out to them or cancel their lap and send out another rider. It's hard to do that if we have no means to communicate. Cell communication will likely be spotty in the West Virginia sticks and no one has two way radios, especially not ones with a range of five miles that will work in peaks and valleys.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mohican 100 Fun Facts

I should taken the advice I've read and stayed off my bike a little while longer. I thought two days rest is enough time to warrant taking a nice easy spin. It was cool to just tool around on the bike. I haven't done that in a long time. Always in training mode. I headed out the door, took the road nice and easy up to Frick park for a little single track. The trail got the better of me and I ended up pushing harder than I should of. Think I strained my right leg quad. That puppy is thumping right now.

Mohican 100 Fun Facts

  • First cyclocomputer fun facts. I traveled an average of 9.5 miles per hour over 62 miles. This does not factor in time fixing a broken chain,camel back refilling or picking myself up from an epic crash.
  • At some point I traveled 42.5 miles per hour. I believe it was on pavement, god help me if it wasn't.
  • At the start of the race. Your typical endurance racer is very, very serious. Chipper light conversation is not appreciated as you pedal up the first hill.
  • Unlike the punk bike enduro where they laugh and shove you back, endurance racers get very very agro when you go off trail and brush elbows with their team mate on a pass. Even if it's up hill on a moderate section and especially if they are female. (Refer to previous fun fact above).
  • Believing the finish line is 14 miles from the last aid station, but is actually 15.5 miles is absolutely cruel, especially if it's been communicated by an aid volunteer with total confidence and that last mile and a half includes a giant mega climb.
  • It is possible to ride the last 15 miles of an endurance race faster than you road the first 46.
  • GU is one of the stickiest substance known to man and is on the same order as super glue when applied to brake levers, shifters and handle bar grips.
  • It is advisable to give absolute respect ginormous water bars on uber steep downhills, especially ones that run diagonally across the trail. Extra especially if they run diagonally, are wet and slathered with mud. (Thank fully) It takes an incredible amount of force to break one's hip. Even if you loose your bike on wet wood and hurl yourself over a ginormous water bar.
  • Unlike the impression you may get from reading his blog. Jason Mahokey cranks big gears and bullets down through the single track. Nice riding a couple miles with you. You rip it up man.
  • Single track can still keep you grinning from ear to ear even after you've spent over 6 hours in the saddle
  • Seemingly unlikely a mountain bike endurance race can be one of the best experiences you'll have in your life.

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