Archive for the ‘2017 cycling’ Category

It’s been a rough 5 months for me.  The huge win at 24HOP scrambled my brains and turned them into mush.  I took a backseat and rode only for fun, regaining my desire to race before even considering racing in my backyard. With no focused riding this was to be a test of the legs before next weekend’s big 100 mile race. 

2 laps of the new 28 mile long Laramie Enduro course were on my platter as a preparation for next weekends Pierre’s Hole 100. At just over 6000′ of climbing for the 56 miles, it seemed like a good idea to test my legs after a couple of setbacks over the last few months. The camping was excellent. Being local, I arrived well in advance and got myself a choice spot. The evening prior, Jenny and I setup some motivational signs on a steep climb that she would be marshaling. It would be reminiscent of my first Enduro, in which other signs placed along the course helped take my thoughts away from the pain I was feeling with a bit of laughter. They were a hit with everyone btw. Back to race stuff… Hydration prior to the race was accomplished with Hammer Fizz, (electrolytes with flavor – goes with any meal) 😀.  I had a good night sleep and woke at 5:45am for my 7am start. As I had my dogs with me the first item was to feed them. From there I had my solid pre race regime of Hammer Nutrition Race Caps and Anti-Fatigue caps, Compex EMS warm-up routine and sipping on Perpetuem. 20 minutes prior to the start I had 1.5 scoops of Fully Charged to prime the engine before heading out onto my bike and lining up for the 2 lap Epic. One gel before the race started and it was a fun “road style” pack ride for the first 3 miles of dirt road with climbs that would separate everyone before the singletrack. I treated the first lap like a one lap race planning on relaxing a bit on the second lap. Interestingly the eventual 50+ winner and I were riding together the first lap. He was from the low lands of San Antonio Texas but was riding really well. I left him to go on his own on the road section the next lap.

Feeling good

One lap down

 

I was thinking more about not killing myself before next week’s race, and was sticking to the plan of tempo riding the second lap. It was there that I had an “oh $h!!” moment when I realized I had left my Endurolytes, Anti-Fatigue, and Endurance Aminos supplements in my warmup jacket. After a few miles of telling myself the HEED/Perpetuem mix in my hydration bladder were enough, I resumed normalness and proceeded to enjoy my favorite singletrack sections. The temps were dropping fast this 2nd lap as the clouds built up. The forecast was for thunderstorms starting around noon, but I’ve never experienced them that early before. This would be the first as lightning started cracking well before I hit the north side trails of Tie City that were wet an slick with mud. The rain had started in earnest with lightening cracking all around me by then. “No need to be a statistic” was my thoughts as I headed up the last ascent of Haunted Forest. I finally dropped a Single Speed rider that had caught me, and was thinking about how warm and dry it would be when I got back into my trailer when I was caught by another rider, Anthony M, a longtime fellow competitor and also a 50+ rider. As much as I hoped to follow his wheel, the slick trail and roots kept me back. By the time we reached the top of the climb he had 20 seconds on me and I had nothing to respond with. I had hoped to make up any time on the last descent, but with the rocks being slick with rain, I thought it best to finish without a crash. When I finished, I heard the sounds of people calling my name, but all I could think of was getting dry and warm. My hands were a mix of purple and white, and my knees were painful to bend. I think I sat under a dribbling hot shower for at least 5 minutes before feeling better. If Suffering is what makes a man then this year I might have hit the limit and turned back into a baby. As pleased as I was to finish 3rd, I think it was the few individuals that came up to me after the race and thanked me for the fueling recommendations. They had all used what I have been encouraging them to do in all races. No breakfast, a gel prior, and HEED or Perpetuem with a couple of Hammer Gels during the race. They told me they felt great and would continue doing the same in upcoming events. That, was the highlight for me. Seeing others perform well on products I have been using exclusively for the last 4 years. 

Anthony and I, the Texan left already

It’s been a bit o time since I raced 24HOP and started to recount this race.  Let me start by stating that this race affected me like no other previous race.  From the conditions, to the pace, stress, and eventual standing on the podium with Anthony on the top step,  I was on Cloud Nine for a very short time before hitting a depression that left me searching if I even wanted to ride a bike again.  I felt soul crushed and didn’t unpack my race boxes for a few weeks after getting home.  Now over a month later I’m finally getting my head back into the game.  It’s hard to explain.  Even I don’t understand why I dropped into a state of  ‘cycling depression’ after winning the biggest race of my endurance career.  All is better now and I’m looking forward to my next race.  And now on to the race report…

Less than 5 days prior to racing 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo I was in a state of self questioning.  Did I put in the needed training? Why do my legs feel dead? What didn’t I do?

My 3rd trip to the Copper State for this 24 hour race in the desert north of Tucson was unlike my previous trips.  Expecting great weather, heat, and good riding the week before was not to be found.  Temps were colder, weather was windy (damaged a few campsites and popup tents on Wednesday), and the forecast called for lots of rain and cold temps on race weekend.  My mental state was not in the normal mode, I was worried.  Did I bring enough clothes? Would they be warm enough? What about the rain? How were my hands going to handle the temps without some solid insulation?  Then there was my normal pre race week of having fun and riding some trails in summer clothes.

Let’s flashback to the arrival.

I arrived earlier than previous years intent on getting away from the cold and snow of Wyoming for some warm weather riding and racing. I showed up 8 days prior to the race and set up camp near Bret, a rider from a group I met last year.  I was still in a good mood and was looking forward to the following weekend.  The legs felt great and to forecast 7 days away was just a possibility, things could change that far out.

I got in a few nice rides prior to Tony, my Duo teammate, showing up.  I’ll thank him now for bringing the great St. Louis area beer with him and excuse myself for not bringing enough Wyoming/Colorado beer.  His winter training has been nothing short of amazing and it showed the first time we headed out on a course lap.  It was on that lap that my mind started to tell me that maybe I had not trained enough as he easily put me in the ‘pain cave’ trying to keep up with him on climbs, and he wasn’t even trying to drop me (at least I didn’t think he was).  This was the start of my mental state dropping as I realized that maybe I had not held up my end to be in top shape going into this “A” race of A races.  The top 24 hour race in perhaps the world and I was in just OK shape on a race that we had hoped to get 20 laps in on and maybe move up to a 4th or even 3rd place finish after two 5th place showings. Dang this mental game sucks, hand me another beer.

I started brooding, internally and somewhat externally, I just wanted to find my safe spot. Be with my dogs and forget this moment. Tony was worried. I, on the other hand, tried to put on my best optimistic face. With the forecast increasingly pointing towards rain and cold temps, it was hard, real hard.

I picked up a pair of ‘superior wind and rain resitant’ gloves at the bike shop we picked up our race bags at. Maybe these will come in handy as I only brought summer gloves was my hope.

On Wednesday there was a predicted windstorm that shattered a few pre-placed campsites of those teams that show early to claim territory (it’s very precious with +2000 people showing up). Tents and pop-up canopies were tested. I had one that I deemed unserviceable and chucked it in the dumpster. Our main one survived, just barely, and I did what I could to ensure its ability to be ready on race day knowing the forecast of rain was 100%.  Wow, if this isn’t a mind f@#k then …

It was Thursday when I accepted my fate. I would race as hard as I could, rain and cold be damned. If i was unable to continue, so be it.  But, I made a pact with myself that I would not quit unless Tony did first. I was not going to let our team down.

The Friday went well, I decided nothing would bother me. I wanted to be alone but in the end I found it better to ride with Tony and our neighbors from Ridgecrest California. Nothing was going to change tomorrow’s outcome. I was going to be  the first rider off for the LeMans start and that was that. Grabbed a couple beers from the beer garden along with some great deals on Club Ride clothing prior to heading off to bed knowing that 24 hours is really about +34 hours of racing and awakeness.

Ok people, yes I know beer is probably not the best pre-race food.  It was not in excess and I was staying hydrated with Hammer Nutrition HEED and Fizz. Like I said, this was not a normal 24HOP and my mental state needed some relaxing.

12 hours later I awoke to a cold, not yet raining, day. Tony went on to the captains meeting and picked up our race hand-off token, a section of round wood,  that we would show to the exchange table on every lap. I much prefer a slap of hands for the trade off but rules are rules. I had pre-placed my bike in the stands that lined the bike area on their very last stand knowing that i could easily find it among the hundreds of other bikes when i got there. Wishful thinking as it turned out.

Due to the cold, Tony opted to remain in the Airstream and stay warm while I headed to the start line. With only a 20 minute wait in the starting grid of hundreds cyclists, I felt somewhat relaxed. I’ve always risen above myself in races, experience and some cockiness has helped me through hard fought times and this was no exception with 24 hours of racing facing me. Shotgun start and we were off. My LeMans run to the bike racks was solid until I realized that the 1000s of fans lining the road and holding bikes for their riders obscured where I had placed my bike. I had ran past my bike and ran back among the frenzied fans ands supporters searching for my lonely bike. Once found, I hopped on it trying to male up for lost time. It was race time and my mindset was ‘all systems go’.  I quickly set out to regain lost time knowing that many less skilled riders and multi-person team riders would hold me up if I didn’t pass them before the race entered the cacti infested singletrack. I got through that lap slower than last year but, amazingly, had thrown down the fastest lap in our Duo Male category… we were in first place for now. Woohoo!

I handed off the baton to Tony and headed back to the trailer to strip down and relax for my hour of downtime.  Our racetime strategy involved fueling with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem and recovery with Compex EMS units that flushed our legs of the toxins that race efforts produced.  It has been a successful combination in the past and we weren’t about to change.

Dressed up and headed to the exchange tent I waited for the first of many times that I would hear “number 231, Anthony Diede!”.  I ran up to the exchange table and grabbed the baton heading out on our 3rd lap. feeling good I headed out riding fast.  2/3rds through the lap the weather finally decided to unleash its moisture.  I got drenched completely during the final 5 miles of the 16 mile lap.

last time I wear this rain soaked kit this 24 hours

I was cold and wet when I handed off the baton to Tony, but for him, at least the rain had subsided.  I ditched all my gear into a plastic bag as there was no way it was going to dry out.  Midway through my recovery session the aluminum shell of the Airstream started to roar as the rain came back and pounded the race venue. OMG, I thought about Tony and how I hoped he was not in the area of pounding rain (no such luck ).

One of my favorite pics of Tony

Anthony drilling it after a flat in the rain to finish the 2nd lap

My alarm goes off telling me to suit up and head to the exchange tent. Now dressed in rain gear it became interesting. Tony came in looking strong albeit wet in his rain gear.  I headed out expecting the worst but the rain by then had passed through and the course had unexpectedly obtained a fast tacky surface that let me ride another fast lap. Hmmm, Maybe he should have ridden the first lap?  Nahh

Is this really S. AZ? Why do I look like Im dressed for a winter race?

Race update: Team Hammer Time (Us) were still in first place by a few minutes. Anyone that knows me knows that in crunch time situations I become ‘obsessed’ and will bury myself in pain to maintain a leading margin. This was no exception as I studied the team that was maintaining pace with ours.  My mind thrives on number crunching during these races and the ability to get the data live from the race is key for me to compute logistics.

at night, nobody can see you magical skills. notice how my wheels barely touch the ground? That, my friends, is how your deceive the competition.

Race update:  6 hours in we had a slim 7 minute lead over second place and 3rd place was falling further behind. This was quickly becoming a race that I, We, could’ve only have only dreamed of.  Leading the 24HOP Male Duo cat at midnight when in years past we’ve been between 10th and 6th place at that time.  I was not about to give up the lead willingly.

Tony with his Amoeba lighting system

Sometime through the night I got word that Tony was not doing good. His wife told me at he was having problems via text msg.  I would be lying if I said that all was well.  I was hurting more than I’ve ever had during this race and knowing that my teammate was in a bad condition made me more determined than ever to maintain our lead. And when I thought that I couldn’t go any faster and needed a ‘slow’ lap, the trail conditions improved and I pushed myself harder posting a fast lap to make up for any  problems we might have been having. It worked and we were still in first place by a good margin.

no more lights after this

I’m finally looking tired

Cue the Wayne’s World dream sequence.  Seriously WTF was happening? We came to improve one lap over previous attempts.  Well that wasn’t going to happen do to the weather so was this the present reality then?  By all official accounts it was.  It was my last night lap and I was ready to see some form of daylight when Tony handed me the baton the next lap.

{fyi, when Tony finished this lap we had a 10 minute lead on 2nd place after +13 hours of racing}

Prior to Tony’s arrival I looked to my left and saw a tired looking Lance Armstrong.  He was racing on team WEDU, a 4 man “ex US Postal” team.  We exchanged a few words and then Tony showed up, baton exchanged and I was off on another lap.  Within a few miles Lance caught me on the ‘bitches’, a series of big rolling hills on a gravel road that, with the rocks and bumps, treats a few riders every year to an ambulance ride.  He rode by me saying “good morning”.  Yes it was I thought.  As he rode on past me up the hill another rider was trying to keep up with his pace, “go get him” I told him.  He replied something to the effect of ‘yeah, right’.  Maybe it was the fact that I was on a full suspension bike and he was on a hardtail, but without really trying, I caught up to Lance’s wheels on the next descent.  for a moment I realized my bike handling skills might just be better but as he sped away on the incline, I knew he still had more speed and power.  It’s a good memory at least.  When I finished that lap and sat down to analyze the times while I recovered I think we had about a +15 minute lead on second place with less than 6 hours to go.  Anything could happen.

(FYI:  Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, and a few cohorts raced to a 3rd place 4 man squad. Check out  https://twitter.com/LizKreutz on Feb 19 2017 for some great pics of these guys.)

 

 

Tony Dressed to Kill as the temps and moisture were not cooperating.

We continued our laps.  Tony was riding solidly ‘Tony’ again.  The rain returned around 9-10am and and I remember my bike being trashed with a solid coating of mud everywhere.  I was scared to even shift as my gears looked and sounded so bad during the final few miles.  Tony had headed out on his last lap, and I was left to do what I could do to wash my bike and clean/lube my chain so that I could finish one more lap without issues.  I figured Tony would arrive with not enough time for me to turn another lap and send him out again and I was right.  He even asked that I do not finish before noon so that he would not have to go out again.  No worries on that as I took the last baton exchange at 3.5 minutes before 11am.  No way was I going to post a sub 64 minute lap at this point in the race.  I went out and rode a more relaxed, safe pace.  I didn’t take any risks knowing that if I crashed I probably would be beaten with a broomstick by Tony.  We had a +21 minute lead, 2nd place would not catch me.  I crossed the finish line giving hi fives, I was greeted by Tony and gave him a hug and he handed me a beer.

WE had won the Duo Male category at the biggest MTB 24 Hour race in the world.  A ‘start to finish’ effort that I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined.

1 mile left, we got this


one happy finisher


First Place!


better than a coaster

 

I need to thank everyone that made this moment possible and have supported me over the years.  First and foremost, my teammate Anthony Diede, whose rock solid performance and ability to put up with me in tight quarters even when he wanted to smother me with a pillow, I wouldn’t have done this with another rider in these conditions; HAMMER NUTRITION, my race fueling and sports nutritional sponsor, Fueling with RACE CAPS, ENDUROLYTES, MITO CAPS, ANTI-FATIGUE CAPS, ENDURANCE AMINOS, HEED, PERPETUEM, and HAMMER BARS kept my energy supplies at 100% and without a doubt after 30 years in the Endurance Sports Nutrition world -#1; COMPEX EMS units, also presented by Hammer Nutrition, They provided us with the ability to recover in short time between the extreme efforts required during the race.  my kids (puppies!) watching me leave every night without them as I headed out into the cold and snow to train and greeting me with kisses when I came home;  Bicycle Station for the Specialized Fatboy fat bike, Acme and Acme307 Cycles for the Salsa Spearfish and Horsethief bikes;  Airstream for the great Bambi trailer I roll in; All the riders and friends that have supported and encouraged me over the years.   THANKS EVERYONE!!!

Final Results: MALE DUO

Top 5 standings

Final Results: OVERALL (team HAMMER TIME 29th of 534 teams)

I hate the ‘in between’ seasons.  Either it’s cold but not cold enough for substantial snow accumulation or it’s starting to warm but hasn’t fully melted away the white stuff to reveal the dirt below.  When I’m in ‘THE’ season, it’s like magic all day (and sometimes the night) long.  It’s the real winter season and my local trails are fully groomed snow covered singletrack fun.  All summer long I look forward to this time of year.  It takes me a few weeks to get into the new routine. Pulling out the winter clothes, regularly charging batteries for all the night rides, fatbike in order, dog collar batteries replaced, etc. By January I’ve gotten it all down and I’m usually cruising 4 days a week. 

There is no doubt that the people who ride or talk with me while I’m on the multipurpose trail system that I am in cloud 9 while out there. The beauty of snow covered trees and headlight lit trails at night light up my soul. I’m so grateful for the addition of the motorized trail maintenance we now have.  Hopefully my snowshoes will never be used again.


The past few years snowbiking has exclusively been my training leading up to 24 Hours in The Old Pueblo.  Training at +8000′ with approximately 150′ gained per mile rode plus the additional resistance that 5″ tires give offer a great advantage.  I can usually gage myself by how many Strava trophies I’m acquiring. But as it is when you age, those  virtual awards  become harder to beat. So constantly getting a 2nd or 3rd best time (along with any riding partner saying that there must be a motor in my bike) is usually a good indicator of fitness. 


One more month before I get some sun in the desert but till then I’m going to soak up as much snow as I can.