Posts Tagged ‘Endurance racing’

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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Last year I raced what many endurance mountain bikers call the hardest category to race in a 24 hour format, Duo or 2 Person.  There are many reasons but mainly because it involves riding at a high race pace for each lap followed by a short recovery and then back on the bike again.  As a team, you rely on each other, for motivation, support , keeping spare batteries charged, and above all being ready to lay down another fast lap when it’s his/hers turn.  Recovery is at a premium and there is more to do than just ride a bike and wait to go out on your next lap.  My example: A respectable fast lap in 24 The Hours in the Old Pueblo is under 70 minutes.  After the baton is handed off to your teammate and you have made your way to your camp (~5 min), you park your bike in the workstand, sit down and grab some food and take off your jersey (~10 min).  If you are a Duo team with no support, it is up to you to go over your bike and make sure everything is functioning well before you put your feet up and make sure batteries are plugged in and charging (~5 min).  Mind you, problems do happen and you may find yourself changing a tire, wheel, or worse if you crashed on your lap.  Stay calm, refuel, and take care of what is needed.

What is needed after you have ensured your steed is ready to roll is your recovery.  The time between your post ride checks and the 10 minutes prior to your teammate arriving at the transition zone, the hopefully 40 minutes you have to lay down, put your legs up and fuel some more.  During this time I suggest grabbing your personal soignier, masseuse, your Compex EMS unit and hooking up for an Active Recovery session.  My personal experience is with the Compex units and I travel with 2 and spare batteries to speed recovery sessions.  This works out great when your teammate doesn’t have one also.  The 24 minute workout combined with stripping down, hooking up electrodes, disconnecting everything and getting re-dressed to head back to the transition tent leaves you with little else to do but will pay huge dividends on that next lap when you feel like it’s your first.  if you are in a 4 person team, you have even more tim to relax and flush out the legs before kicking back the next 3 hours.  When using Active Recovery, it is best utilized from a setting of 50 to a max of 100.  And set your alarm when using in the late hours of the race, you may find yourself drifting off to sleep and your partner won’t appreciate not seeing you in the exchange tent on time.
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There are many aspects of 24 hour racing, I find EMS to be a integral part of it.  My duo teammate Tony summed up the experience utilizing EMS during the perfectly when he described it as our secret weapon”.  We went on to a 5th place finish in Mens Duo in 2014.  Although we were unable to compete this year, we are looking forward to the top step for 2016.  Hammer On!

For more information on Active Recovery download the pdf @ http://www.hammernutrition.com/downloads/active_recovery.pdf

While there are many “white papers” out there on the subject of EMS for sport, I have not come across any that addressed the use during 24 hour racing.  I hope this has been helpful.  Any thoughts or questions please feel free to share/ask.