Posts Tagged ‘Endurance’

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)

The race is part of the Colorado Endurance Series, a series of self-supported, on your own, no assistance provided other than what you can find along the way races. Fully decked out in my Hammer kit, I did the Bigger Loop, consisting of 106 miles and ~13000′ climbing. This race takes in the Colorado Trail from near Salida Colorado to Buena Vista then heads east and rides up and down the Arkansas Hills before returning to the start. 64 of us met early at Cafe Dawn in downtown Salida. We signed in and Tom P gave us last minute instructions and we were off.

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This year I decided to do the race on gears and suspension versus last years rigid Blacksheep Fatbike, it was a hard decision.

The roll out was fast and I found myself in the back watching the top dogs roll away, most of them were doing the “shorter” race (89miles) and this old dog needed to ride sensible and warm up proper before “throwing down”. On the 8.8 miles of pavement before we hit dirt I warmed up quickly in the rising sun. I left the group I was in and began to ride my own pace which would have me riding solo all the way to Buena Vista. On the horizon was the first objective the climb to the Shavano TH on the Colorado Trail.

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Of the ~13000′ of climbing, the course climbs 3400′ in the first 15 miles alone.

I didn’t go crazy hard, I kept it real and rode smooth.  The beauty of the Colorado Trail and the podcasts of NPRs Snap Judgement loaded on my IPod kept me in good spirits.  With Hammer Nutrition gels/bars and Perpetuem, I knew that only a mechanical or crash would delay me arriving in BV in around 5 hours. 

Halfway to Princeton Hot Springs I had my only crash, it was on an off camber washed out section of the CT.  It wasn’t bad as I was able to jump off my bike, but the rear derailleur smacked something hard enough to bend it or the hanger out of whack.  I figured this out pretty quickly when I shifted into my spokes on the next steep climb.  

The rest of the trail was fairly uneventful, with the exception that I got to watch a rider go over the bars on a section that I figured was safer to walk than ride.  He was OK by the way.

With a resupply at 47 miles in Buena Vista I was able to carry a ziplock bag of Perpetuem to refill my food bottles and thanks to the bike shop, Boneshaker Cycles, having cold Heed available was able to fill my 3ltr water bladder full for the heat i would encounter over the next 60 miles.

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They also had Bacon and Whiskey

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I deserved bonus points as I couldn’t resist a small shot.  It was so smooth and tasty I had to hold myself back from having another.

This was my only stop of the day.  The finish-line beer awaits.

Crossing the Arkansas river I had gained the company of Joe S on my wheel.  I try to keep it as Solo as possible at times and until I took a wrong turn on the Midland trail I kept pretty much to myself and Snap Judgement.  After that SNAFU we rode mostly side by side on the way out to Chub Park (where does that name come from?) I let him roll away hoping to catch him on the climbs after Trout Creek pass. It was warm and I knew what was lying ahead.

Casually descending to Chub Park I was caught by Tom and Robert and I decided to get my act together if I didn’t want to get passed by anyone else.  We rode the windless dirt roads together, which was a nice change from last years stiff headwinds, until after a short rise I found myself alone again. Crossing Hwy 285 I eventually caught up to Raphael from Sub Culture Cycles in Salida.  He had been up with the front group at the start and was showing fatigue on the hills.  He was good company and I slowed to his pace and turned the podcast off in my ears for the last time.  Eventually Robert rejoins us saying that Tom had stopped but would probably catch up.  He would not catch us as we rode together up the long climb interspersed with some short downhill sections.  It was here that another rider came flying by us.  nice Second Wind we remarked.  

After missing the turn to Futurity and being alerted by my GPS, we found ourselves riding back uphill to the hidden turn.  It was here we came back across Second Wind coming towards us remarking that this can’t be the trail with all the down trees.  I assured him the it was and the trees were for walking over. Eventually we would be able to remount our bikes and ride out the rough singletrack.  By now Raphael had faded back and it was just Robert and myself.  We stopped at Futurity and picked up some SBFL chips (rocks) that Tom P had placed in an abandon building.  The chip removes 45 minutes from your finishing time but it doesn’t hurt any less.  

The race was almost over now.  We decended to rejoin the short loop and with one last big climb, a fast descent, another shorter climb, and a faster descent we were back in Salida.  The temps had dropped quickly with a passing shower that we had avoided.  It was enough for my hands to be suffering from a pretty bad case of Reynauds.  I could only tell how hard I was braking into corners by the momentum I felt when slowing down from the high speed descent.

It was a new long course and I was super stoked to finish the 106 miles under 11 hours and in 10th place. 

Colorado Endurance Series SBFL

Results and links to other blogs