Archive for September, 2016

17 September, one week prior to my last endurance race of the year, I was sick.  It had started a couple days earlier and got so bad that on Friday my boss sent me home at noon.  To put it in perspective, I tried to ride my bike with the dogs and barely made the 2 mile loop around my neighborhood without passing out from exertion.  It wasn’t until Monday that I started to feel better.  It’s times like this that put thoughts of doubt in my head as I approach a big race.  I rode one day that week and total of 3  over the last 14 days.  Thoughts of “I’ll be happy to make it 4-6 hours before stopping” and “it’s just a race, no shame in dropping out if you aren’t feeling good.” “Besides, the dogs will enjoy a weekend in the woods watching bikes race by.”

Airstream loaded we headed out 2pm Thursday for the 9 hour trip to Tijeras New Mexico the location of the 12 Hours of Albuquerque.  The plan was to make it to a rest stop in NM for the night then make it early enough to the race site to score a spot on Solo row.  Here’s some advice, never try to drive through “Denver Metro I-25 Parking lot” between 3:30p and 5:30p.

Eventually I arrived at the venue about 3 hours after people were allowed in to set-up.  It was packed.  There were taped off areas where locals had come up and grabbed the spots for when they would arrive the next morning, nice 😦 .  Luckily, I found one spot that I could back into and set up my area.  The neighbors were nice and as they headed back into town, after setting up a tent and taping off their area, I headed out on a lap to preview the course.

Whoa! from the entry to singletrack off the timing area it starts out with a downhill rock garden.  Fun and fast if you get the line right. Then it throws you across a flat section into a slight climb that you traverse back and forth through for the smoothest line.  Eventually you turn onto another rocky section that towards the end contains some large boulders.  I opted to ride over a very large flat-top one in the middle of a segment, focused on further down the trail I hit or slid on something sending me over the bars into the rocks.  Ouch! A few scrapes on my knee, elbow, and back were all.  And somehow my bike didn’t receive a scratch.  Anyway, that will be the way I ride it as it is clearly the fastest line.  Another climb, short 7%, then a screaming downhill through a twisty, corkscrew of a descent on perfectly bermed singletrack, “Deadman’s Trail” for 1.3 miles of downhill “YeeHaa”.  Then another climb of ~2.5 miles of winding trail before the longest downhill of the race at ~2.5 miles before the final 3, mostly uphill, miles to the finish. I decided to hit the first part again as it was definitely where time could be lost in a crash or wrong line.  This time I rolled overt the boulder I crashed on with ease and it actually set me up straight into a line that flowed through the rest of the section, bonus!

Back at camp I got the dogs out for a bit as I cooked my Green Chef meal for the night, Chicken something or other.  The dogs and I headed over to pick up my race bag and I was still had the thoughts of a short race based on how I had been feeling the past week.  It was a party with music, lights, beer, and dogs.  I think there were a few people there that would take my dogs home in a heartbeat if i let them, they loved the attention and I enjoyed a couple beers from Bosque Brewing Company.  Zia Rides really puts on some of the best races that I have ever participated in.  It was getting cold and a little rainy so we headed back to the ‘Stream to set out awnings and a pop-up tent to keep everything dry.  It’s actually amusing how many races I’ve done where it has rained the night before.  Luckily, it was not heavy as that would have made for a miserable race on New Mexico dirt. An early in bed time of 8pm with a Compex EMS unit running a muscle relaxing routine on my legs as I watched a movie with the dogs, Ahhhh.

For the last 4 days, even though I had not thought I had a chance of finishing the race, I had been taking Hammer Nutrition’s Race Day Boost, I’ve trusted in this formula for the last 2 years to have me prepped before a big race.  It just plain works, science is magic.  I got a great night’s sleep and woke up at 5:45 for my 6:15 pre-race briefing.  No food for me and lots of rest.  Plenty of glycogen stored in my body to start the race without food that morning.  Dogs fed, a dose of Race Caps Supreme and Anti-Fatigue Caps for me, we jogged over to the plaza.  I was feeling great.  Briefing done, #1 Rule: “Don’t be a dick” #2 Rule: “Have Fun”.  You have gotta love Zia Rides for their rules if nothing else.

Back at camp, box of Hammer gels, supplements, HEED, Perpetuem, and tools were laid out on a table on the edge of my area. I drank a shot of Hammer Nutrition’s latest offering, Fully Charged (crazy good pump me up fuel). Dogs were put away and I raced over to put my bike somewhere accessible to grab at the end of the long LeMans start.  I opted to run with my Camelbak vs leaving it on my bike to grab.  As I walked jogged to the start, myself and others remarked on how far it was away.  There were still riders “runners to be” approaching the start when the race director Seth, said “GO!”  We were off!  I was running pretty easily in my orange Giro Teraduro shoes on the pavement vs those in pure carbon soled badness.  I was near the front with the team riders and needed to back off my heart rate a bit as I was going to be in for the long haul in the Solo category.  I got to my bike and headed onto the couple mile loop around the area on the pavement before heading onto dirt.  The first lap was awesome, fast, fun, dang I better ease off if I’m going to finish.  That rock that I crashed on, I passed 3 riders tangled up trying to ride around it :).  I was feeling really good.

My plan was to it my table for a gel, Endurance Aminos,  and Anti-Fatigue Caps every 2 laps and swap out my Camelbak with a new one filled with HEED/Perpetuem at 4 laps.  It worked perfectly.  I passed a rider on that second lap  that had crashed on the rocky section trying to bypass the large boulder.  I advised him to ride over the rock next time as I cruised through the section.  I think I might have broke rule #1 right there.  The race went on and I just kept turning the pedals.  I felt a bit sorry for my dogs as I pitted every other lap and said hi to them.  Lily and Axel whined, Nikki slept.  My neighbors got them out for a walk and some water while I raced thank goodness.  Over the next few hours there was a rocky section that degraded to the point of being treacherous.  I did not want to crash or slice open a tire and I rode it carefully.

Without being plugged into music, I kept myself alert and mind occupied by constantly calculating distance to next landmark, distance to finish, total miles completed, how may laps I could complete before cutoff, etc.  It was around 5 hours in and I realized that I had yet to be passed by another solo rider.  I decided I would finish 8 laps before stopping at the finish area to ask if they knew my position, that would be around 95 miles into the race and around 10 hours or so.  As I approached the lap I mentally prepped myself.  I needed one more 1.5 hours of fluids in my hydration pack before hitting the line for what would be my final lap.  Asking the timers where I was came the reply of put my bike in the rack and wait until we can pull up the positions unless you want to lookup online yourself.   Well that was not going to happen and I headed out for my ninth lap.  I had decided that I had better not a) Crash b)Flat c)Stop until the Donut Station.  On my way towards the Donut Station at mile 6.5 I passed a solo rider and asked how he was doing.  He said he was ok and was in the lead.  ???? WHAT?  I said ‘really? I’m on lap 9, what are you on? ‘  He said lap 8 and was surprised then he added, ‘in the old man’s category’.  Ahh, I told him that I was technically in the “young guy’s” cat as I was still (2 weeks from my 50th b-day) 49.  It was Lenny Goodell, southwest cycling all around good guy.  I secretly wished the race had been held 2 weeks later as I sped off toward the Donut Station.

I stopped for my celebratory +100 mile donut and as I finished it saw fellow Hammer Nutrition athlete Shaun Pettigrew come around the corner.  I had passed him earlier and I decided that I would try to motivate him to ride a bit faster to the finish line.  I jumped on my bike and we chatted as I set the pace in front.  Then we hit a downhill section that I held nothing back on, only because it would be my last time sweeping around the trails that day.  After the fun and the climb to the finish started, I saw the hint of red Hammer jersey behind me, sweet, good job Shaun.  He caught up to me and I gave him words of wisdom and encouragement as we pedaled the last 3 miles to the finish.  I pushed it all the way to the finish.  Crossing the line at 10:50 I knew I couldn’t do another lap under the time limit and was excited to find out where I had most likely finished.  The response was that The rider in front of me was close, within a minute and that I was currently 4th.  Dang, I thought, had I only known.  I was content to know that I had raced for more than I thought possible based on 7 days earlier.  It was time to get to my dogs and celebrate an overall SOLO 4th place finish.  I headed through the plaza area to get a ‘recovery’ beer and talking to others there found out they were surprised that I had been able to ride 9 laps solo.  Lots of congratulations and stuff, it was great and all but I was 4th.  Time to head to my pups.

After getting back to the trailer and let the dogs out I sat down and stripped off my kit.  Exhaustion hit me and I quickly got all the dogs fed and in the trailer with me.  It wasn’t long before I was passed out on my bed with 3 dogs lying around me.

The next day was like any day after a race, pack and leave for home always a bit sad for me.

It wasn’t until the next day when I analyzed the results that I realized I was beaten by 21 seconds. (profanities ensue)  That dang donut probably cost me a podium or did it?  If I caught the rider would I have the energy to pass him and keep him behind me?  I will never know.  All I know is I raced 99% of a race at a pace I thought impossible 7 days prior.  There will always be that 1 percent of knowing that I might have stood on a podium 3rd overall. Next year I get to race my age, 50+, no dealing with the young kids for placing but that won’t stop me gloating on beating the kids.  Make room you old guys, here comes Brian.

 

 

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