Archive for the ‘Endurance racing’ Category

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)

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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.

 

 

PH100
I arrived at Grand Targhee Resort late Thursday morning. The following photos of my ride that afternoon don’t do it justice.

30 miles later I got back to the trailer and Christian and Milissa had recently got in and were setting up camp. Later after eating and a couple of beers, Andy -PH100 event promoter and Christian’s brother stopped in to relax. I found out then that current road cycling World Champion and fresh off his Tour de France Green Jersey winner Peter Sagan would be arriving tomorrow to compete Saturday in the 1 lap 50km race.  He was using it in preparation for his Olympic mountain biking debut in a few weeks.

We all headed out on a short 9 mile loop up Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails a bit later for them to stretch their legs and me just because.


Friday morning I slept in til 8.  Usually C&M are up and finishing their coffee by 8 but because of wind and the worry of their sun shelter blowing away, it appeared they were none too happy when I knocked at their door at 8:30.

We all later headed out on the second half of the course to check out the new additions that Andy had built. Towards the end of the loop last year was a fast singletrack section that brought you down the mountain through the berms and jumps, this year was different. The addition of the new Snowdrift section was twisty and bumpy. The twists continued again after flying down a road dropping you off at the bottom where you had the cruelness of one last uphill to the finish/lap line. Boy this is going to be fun.

I replaced my fixed seatpost with a dropper post to give me more control on the descents and switchbacks that adorned the race course.
Race Day
The alarm woke me at 5:45 for my 7am race start. Outside my window I noticed that rain had soaked everything not under the tent. It was a welcome sight after 2 days of riding on dirt that resembled moon dust from many days without moisture. I pulled up a muscle warmup program on my Compex Wireless EMS to jump-start my legs and had some Hammer Nutrition Race Caps+++ I dragged my cooler containing a full Camelbak and 3 extra bottles up to the trail above my campsite that would act as my resupply point. Dressed and on my bike I did one short uphill spin before heading to the line for the start. The race starts on a dirt access road to break everyone up before entering onto the singletrack I eyed Sten and Gary in front of me and relaxed knowing that it’s a long climb and there was no reason to put myself in the hurt locker this early into a 100 mile race. I made little jumps here and there when others seemed to slow down and when we neared the last steep uphill before the descent of 38 Special (switchback heaven and hell) I jumped pass a group of riders to really narrow the gap. Flying down the trail, I caught Gary first and he let me by after nearly ran him over a couple times. Quickly after that I caught Sten and I knew he wasn’t going to let me get by him. We chatted it up on the descent and flew through the lower singletrack that led to a 3 mile paved road climb. We pretty much were content to ride together and he would let me go first into descents knowing I was faster. He would eventually catch up after each one as I was clearly not trying to drop him that first lap knowing we had 2 more to go. We crossed the line together as we entered the second lap heading onto Action Jackson trail. It’s an hour long climb from the start to the descent and I settled into a comfortable pace keeping an eye on Sten as he rode away. I only needed to keep him in sight as I would probably catch him on the descent of 38 Special. As the trail started to ease off I picked up the pace and started to really hammer when the trail started dropping a bit. On the 2 track section prior to 38Special, I heard the sickening sound of air and tire sealant escaping from my rear tire. Somewhere I clipped a rock and punctured my sidewall. Adding some air from my only CO2 cylinder I attempted to get it to seal as I rotated the puncture down and kept pressure with my finger. It was much to large a hole to seal. A passing singlespeed rider asked if I needed anything and I asked if he could spare a CO2. He obliged by dropping 2 out of his pocket. As I pulled my wheel off to put in a tube, Gary (the eventual Masters winner) passed me by. Aired up with a tubed tire, I headed down 38 Special. This time I would be 4 minutes slower to the road climb as I took it much easier since I was now without a spare tube if something did happen again. In fact everytime I headed downhill now I was much slower than previous due to being overly cautious. Going into the last lap I calculated that in my tired state, giving it what I had left in the tank, I would finish in 10:20 5 minutes outside the time limit to get a finishers buckle. I decided that I would ride strong on the climbs and back off on any tire slashing descents so that I could finish. It was at the top of Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails that I was greeted by Milissa and Christian.

 Christian cheered me on as only he could by stripping off his shirt while Milissa took photos. I told Christian I was in need a spare tube or I might be looking at a DNF if I flatted again. When I came through the intersection again he was waving a tube which I gladly took. I through caution to the wind knowing I had a spare that I could finish on if I needed it. My times reflected the same as the prior lap but I attributed that more to lack of precision handling as I was pretty tired and motor skills to corner smoothly were not quite there.  On that last lap I caught up with the rider that saved my race when he gave me his CO2 cylinders.  I thanked him and continued on my way.  With a half lap to go, it started raining and I decided to hit the Aid station and get some fluids in me. Stopping there was a small mistake that I would pay for later. I jumped on my bike for the last 15 miles. With ~6 miles to go I saw a rider in front of me wearing the team kit of Gary Gardiner. Was I seeing things I thought? Only one way to find out as I pushed my pace through the North Woods trail only to lose sight of him. I sped up the hill towards Snowdrift and caught a glimpse of him again. “is that Gary?”, I asked myself. I was now on a mission to catch the mystery rider. He was also pushing hard and through the closing mile of the race he was right there in front of me. By then time and race course had run out, I finished 23 seconds behind him only to find out he was Gary’s teammate John Lauck, another masters racer. He had passed me while I stood at the Aid station. The probably unnecessary stop had cost me 3rd place. And with a finishing time of 10:17:53 it probably cost me a Finishers Buckle awarded to the riders that finish under 10:15:00

Next time

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2016 12 Hours in the Wild West hosted by Zia Rides

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9 April 2016 Ruidoso, New Mexico

The month leading up to the race I had rode less than 80 cumulative miles.  A flu bug bit me and bit me hard the day after I received an entry into the race representing Hammer Nutrition.  My enthusiasm for racing hard for 12 hours waned significantly due to my perceived lack of training.  So in the interest of making it fun in the case that something didn’t go as planned I brought my dogs and running shoes. Whoa, as planned? Who was I kidding, I was already planning on beers and heckling other riders by noon with my dogs by my side. 

The Thursday prior to the race I started my trek south to Ruidoso with a stop in Albuquerque to pick up my Airstream that had some repairs and upgraded batteries installed that would also serve as my sleep quarters.  I think I won the unofficial “Furthest Drive” award from the promoter Seth Bush and his Wife.  Having never been to Ruidoso I had no idea what to expect.  I certainly did not expect the high elevation forested hills set in a resort community.  It was fabulous. 

I arrived around noon Friday and discovered that all the good “Solo alley” parking was already full to the point that I was not going to even attempt to set up there.  So I parked about as far as one could get from the transition tent and set up camp for the dogs and I.  After having not ridden my bike for a week I figured I’d better get one lap in to plan when I would be cracking a cold one.  The course, 11 miles long that starts with ~5 miles of ascending and what seemed like an equal part descending was killer.  I was grinning ear to ear as I ripped through the downhill sections noting the warning triangles at danger spots.  Maybe tomorrow won’t be so bad after all I thought to myself.  Returning to camp I met my weekend neighbor Trevor and his son.  They were the kind of neighbors you want to have at an event like this, fun and outgoing. 

I prepped all my gear, Hammer Endurance Aminos, Race Caps, Anti-Fatigue Caps, and bottles of HEED and Perpetuem with the thought that all would be fine. I decided to use a hydration pack instead of bottles due to the nature of the course, almost all singletrack. So the bottles would be my refill option every couple of laps. Mistake 1 and 2 discovered.  1: only one bladder and 2: not enough bottles.  As I drifted off to sleep thunder sounded outside and I brought the dogs inside from their kennels. A light rain started soon after. Mistake #3 was not deploying my awning. I was awaken around midnight to a pounding rain outside that made me realize how much I hate riding in mud let alone in rain. If it came to it, I would be a volunteer under the tent instead of a race participant.  5:30am, up and feeding dogs and drying off my wet bike. It’s low 40s outside and wet, I put on every bit of clothing I have brought including my fleece gloves and vapor barrier under the socks to hold off any Reynauds reactions I might have. To say I’m none too delighted by the wet and the temps would be an understatement. I was looking so forward to warm southern New Mexico.  it was not what I expected, FYI, the high was in the low 60s. To be honest it was warmer than the 40s I left behind in Wyoming.  6:15 am racer meeting, we find out amongst other things that the city had voted to change the ordinance that forbid camping in city limits just for this race weekend. THANKS RUIDOSO!

7 am race starts with a shotgun blast and I calmly ride in the mix. No trying to move forward, just pedaling along like it was a big group ride.  Honestly, I can’t recall ever doing this. I usually just hammer it and settle in to an endurance pace later. On the long climb I find myself in the conga line that forms in races like this on trails like this. Everyone was so silent, no talking, no music from somebody’s Bluetooth speaker… No fun.  I commenced to get a conversation going with everyone around me, ringing my bell, and requesting some jokes and where everyone was from. It was not the crowd I thought they would be.  Listen up people, it is 12 hours of solo/duo/team riding, have fun, talk it up, it’s the first lap, you will never be any fresher than now. Oh, and put a freaking bell on your handlebars.  By mile 4 I finally was able to make a break from the doldrums to excitement. I pleasantly, or annoyingly, found myself with a large gap in front of me to ride as fast as I wanted. And I did exactly that. At mile 5 the drop in elevation commenced and the 2 rock gardens endorsed by Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid did nothing to slow me down (till later, but only just a little).

There was one thing that I have neglected to mention, the mud. Remember that rain?  Yeah well it turned that awesome dirt to mud. During the conga line, more than a couple times I was forced to hoof it when a rider fumbled. Shoe cleats, pedals, and drivetrains were coated. Coated in a thick muck.   Back to the race.  The final few miles of trail included some fresh cut trail that were fun. They included a couple banked sections that, try after try, I could never master completely without braking. 

The arrival at the start / finish tent was worth it. Crowds of applause every lap. The announcer proclaiming your name and, for me at least, commenting on my kit and how she hoped Hammer Nutrition knew how well I was looking in it. This was before she ever knew I was a Hammer Ambassador.  One lap down and my bike in the second lap was sounding like a screech owl when I got on the power. There wasn’t a rider around that didn’t know I was coming up their backside that lap. I made it through lap 2, informed the announcer of my Hammer Nutrition affiliation and was rewarded with her announcing to everyone about how she uses Hammer herself. It was pretty cool. She continued to cheer me on every time I came through letting the race venue know. I pitted this lap to fix my obnoxiously loud drive train. Mud crusted over my derailleur pulleys causing issues and my chain was in need of some lube. Oh, and dogs needed to get out. See, still not taking the race seriously. Issues and dogs taken care of, I rode back to the course. Lap 3, sweet jesus, I felt like I was riding in stealth mode as I overtook the other solo riders that didn’t have to ride off course ~.25 miles and walk dogs who had moved in front of me.

finishing up lap 4 I pitted to refuel.  For fun I checked the standings online.  WTF? 7th place?  What the hell am I doing in 7th place overall Solo. Now I need to seriously ride for 12 hours. New Goal: put my personal problems aside and race for 12 hours.

The dirt was getting seriously good but the lack of training and the repeated hammering from the rock sections was taking it’s toll.  It was taking longer up the climb to feel good before I could push it and the descents were killing my wrists and neck. 

I had half jokingly said to myself that I could make 8 laps during the drive down.  The joke was on me as I finished lap 7 and headed out on lap 8.  Seth’s wife was ecstatic as she announced one more for me (which is what she did for everyone) BTW, Seth your wife is an awesome announcer/motivator.  With no one to push me through most of the lap I rode a bit slower than before knowing I would easily finish the lap under the 12 hour limit.  My last mistake was letting 2 riders, who I perceived to be team riders as fast as they were riding,  pass me… one in the final 1/4 mile finished 3 seconds in front of me.  I dropped from 7th to 9th overall in the Solo category, a minor disappointment as I had ridden further than I initially thought, had pushed myself past the point of breaking and owe it a lot to my buddy Tony that had told me “dude, even when you are sick your a better rider than most people”.  I’m not sure if that was meant as a compliment or a way of shaming me but it worked. 

Seth’s wife handed me my finishers award, a doughnut.  I was like “where’s the beer for finishing?”  she kindly handed me a pint glass off the table and directed me towards liquid pain reduction therapy. 

I have to thank the people that believed in me, Hammer Nutrition, Zia Rides, and my 3 patient dogs for an awesome weekend of racing.

After an incredible winter of snow biking, a 24 hour race where my duo partner and I placed 5th, and my first go at the Togwotee Winter classic where I finished 3rd in a 3 way battle for 2nd, I got hit with the flu. Now a month later and 5 rides under my belt I’m heading down to New Mexico for a 12 hour race in Ruidoso. I have friends that tell me even off the couch with no riding I’m still a machine. While I appreciate it, I’m not getting younger and 30 years of Wiley experience can only go so far. Age group over Open categories is starting to look pretty good. 50+ look out 

Dakota Five-O

Posted: October 4, 2015 in Cycling, Endurance racing

Dakota 50
I have always wanted to do this race but my season usually hits the rest zone in September. the course is very challenging, with little to no passing opportunities when the singletrack section is reached after the fast road section. I was told that a time under 4:30 is an excellent time and was also told good luck at getting that your first time out. So that was my goal, sub 4:30. I started my race day as usual, nothing to eat, Anti-Fatigue, Endurance Aminos, and Race Caps prior to and an Espresso Hammer Gel at the start. Not wanting to go out too fast and blow up on the +7000′ climbing that I would face over 50 miles, I settled into a pace that I could maintain. Once I hit the singletrack I wished I had had more power to be further up in the queue. Riders in front of me may have had faster legs up the climb to the trail, had nothing in the way of technical skills on tight singletrack climbing and were slowing me down (maybe for the good?). Eventually the path widened and I easily passed everyone on an gradual uphill only to have my spare tube/tools/CO2 strapped to my top tube come flying off on a bump. Stopping to retrieve my stuff I was passed again by everyone but the “slow” rider thank goodness. I was warned by friends that the course has sharp rocks that cause many flats. My eyes got wide a few miles later when I counted no less than 5 riders over 3 miles on the side of the trail changing flats. I paid a little more attention to the trail after that. The course is unrelenting with climb after climb. It was about mile 30 where I started to worry about my goal of finishing. I decided to empty the tanks and upped my pace significantly trying to keep up with a faster rider from wave 2. Eventually the last aid station was reached with Beer and Bacon being available. I declined and opened it up all out on the descents to the finish. The other rider and I were crushing the descent, passing rider after rider before he fumbled on a technical section allowing me to continue on solo passing riders. Looking at my time I knew it was going to be close and held nothing back. I had played my race out perfectly, my Camelbak filled with ~60oz of Strawberry Heed and Perpetuem was nearly empty with 4 miles to go as I hammered my way to the finish. I finished in 4:29:37. Goal accomplished. 20th in age group and 84th out of 575 finishers
Looking forward to next time as the race is so fun and the location Top Notch

Dakota Five-O

July 15 2014, the Classic took on a new date slot moving from late September/October to July to avoid cancellation due to snow (like last years race) and to let riders enjoy more daylight and a warmer start. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad as there was still some snow on trail 403 supposedly that caused a last minute change in the course. I, for one, was fine with the trails north off Gothic left out. The brake smoking decent off 403 to Gothic road will wait for another classic. I did miss the ascent of Slate d’Huez though.

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This years starting field was relatively small compared to previous editions where a waiting list starts filling soon after the first 74 entrants have listed their intentions to commit to the Classic. The first 74 usually fills in February shortly after race date announcement, tentative or not. It’s that fun of a race. Many riders only attempt the first loop, it’s that hard.
This years race totaled ~108 miles +12500′ of climbing. I ended up getting 115 miles due to a few miscues.
My bike of choice for this year was my beautiful Black Sheep Phat Speedster SS

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The race starts at Brick Oven Pizzeria downtown CB. The 30-40 riders were dressed fairly light as the morning temps were in the upper 50s. Much nicer than previous years where temps have been as low as the mid 20s.

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My bottles packed with Hammer Perpetuem and HEED we rolled out of town to the first loop, Strand-Teocalli Ridge-Canal. I opted to take the first loop easy by riding along with another rider from Cheyenne on his first attempt at a Classic Epic.

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The first loop was a blast, big mountains, long climbs/descents, epic views, and big and little water crossings.

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if you zoom in you might just see Mike in the middle of the photo

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After the start of Teocalli, I pushed on knowing Mike would indeed finish the first loop. Racing down the sweet descent off Teo I came up on a rider with a torn sidewall at the bead. Life was going to be sucking for him. He was on a 26er, no spare tube, no sewing kit or anyway to patch it up to keep on riding. He had none of this stuff yet his pack was twice the size of mine. Go figure. At least it was all downhill to the road.
I completed the lap and said hi to Mike’s girlfriend, telling her he was doing great and that he could stop and enjoy the day (like so many others were doing). He already had an epic in the books as far as I could tell.
Perpetuem bottles and a few gels replenished, I headed out on the next loop with Dominic L. This guy has a motor that just runs forever. He just pedals on and hardly anything bothers him (from what I can tell). We take to the highway that leads us to an area I’ve wanted to ride at but have yet to, South Crested Butte (South CB for short). When we start up Cement Creek rd I bid adieu to Dom as I’m riding a singlespeed and uphill is much easier at my pace. The road goes on forever. I even get to see the leader, Kelly Magelky as he is rolling downhill enroute back to CB. Eventually I hit dirt and the road gets steeper. I come across a guy in a meticulously clean 4×4 that I move over for and wave by. But he just stops on the road and jumps out of the driver side. Uh-oh I think. Then he asks me if I’m in the Classic.
Relieved I reply yes, and he starts snapping photos. I wish I knew who it was because I’d like to get a copy of them pics. Another mile or so and I reach the top of Reno. There is a group of motos and a couple cyclists that aren’t in the Classic standing around. I ride forward to a trail sign that says Flag. That’s all I needed to go straight down an insane multi-use trail that drops a bunch of elevation. I rip it on my Fatbike eventually catching another rider. We rode together flying along the sweet singletrack. Eventually coming across a trail intersection. I had no gps track of the area and for whatever reason, incorrectly assumed we should continue downhill. A couple or so miles later he slashes a sidewall in a muddy crossing, his second flat of the day. A couple of moto riders come through a gate and we ask how far to the road. This is when we discover that we should not have continued downhill. He pulls out his map, and I do a quick assessment and realize our turn was “way back up there”. There wasn’t much I could do for him as my fat tube was not going to fit his 29er. He said he was ok and I pressed on back onto the course. Interesting was that I passed a sign indicating I was on course now and 6 miles from the road. Lies, all lies; it was 10 miles to the road and after the climb (it was turning slick from a slight precipitation that had been going on for bit now) there was a steep switchback decent that led to the biggest water crossing of the race. Thank God there was a rope to hold onto. As with several previous crossings, I removed my shoes and socks. It was pretty fast and the bike floated due to the 4″ tires, pulling me downstream. I was relieved when I finally got to the other side.
Shoes on, I motored down the descent to the highway back to CB.
Now the whole while I had only intended on riding the first 2 laps, but the conversation with Dom was that I have to finish. I was the only Singlespeeder. I still felt relatively good when I rolled up to my truck and decided that I would go on and finish. ~25 miles left and 3 hours of daylight, how hard could it be? The check-in even asked if I had lights. I did, but had figured I could ride the last loop w/out the need for them.
It started thundering and eventually drizzling as I made my way up the pass enroute to Dyke trail. I had ridden this loop in the past but in a group and was not remembering much after I turned onto the road to the lake. By now I had put on my rain jacket as the rain had increased. Encountering the lake I headed around the SW corner on the road looking for the trail. After some climbing on the road, I decided that I must have missed the TH and with the increasing rain and no lights decided it best to head home for the dnf. On the descent I came across Dom again. I flipped a U and asked if he knew where the trail was and if he had lights that I could follow. Yes on both, we proceeded back up from where I came…all the way. 100′ past where I had previously turned around was a TH sign showing Dyke trail. A couple expletives later I join Dom on the slick trail. So slick was the traIl at times that riding uphill was not possible and walking even less. Slog and cussing later we eventually made it to the road. The uphill to the pass was much longer than we had remembered. I was suffering a bit by this time. And was only thinking of getting over the pass, down the other side and getting warm. Shivering is not fun, especially when you have a 9 mile descent in the cold. We rolled into the Brick Oven as the last 2 finishers.
14 hours 43 minutes, 115 miles. I was shivering uncontrollably and needed warmth. Mike brings me a heavy jacket and someone from the Oven got me a hot chocolate. I eventually warmed up enough to have a beer and someone offered me his leftover pizza. Life was better now.

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My bike in dire need of a wash.
On Sunday, my dogs got full attention for their patience in letting me ride all day Saturday.

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We went on an easy ride after I washed the bike up to a beautiful cirque off Slate road. Paradise