Posts Tagged ‘mountain biking’

August 5th 2017

There are only a few races that I really like returning to year after year.  This race, situated on the western side of the Tetons, is definitely one of them.  Great venue, awesome trails, outstanding aid station work, post race fun, and a course that has changed slightly – each time for the better. I really don’t know how the race director, Andy Williams, does it.  In any case, I appreciate the hard work he puts into this fine race. 

I arrived Thursday and and setup camp alongside my friends, Christian, Milissa, Tim, and Barb. 


Pretty sweet base of operations if you ask me. 

All setup, we headed out for a ride up Action Jackson (named for the late AJ Linnell), riding essentially the first half of the 2nd&3rd loop of the race.  No one else would see this trail as they were only doing the one lap affair. The alternative would be the service road, nobody wants to ride service roads when there is single track. 


At one point during the ride we stopped to make some bike adjustments and heard this weird noise nearby. It ended up being a Sage Grouse most likely protecting her nest.  Too cool!


Moving along, we ripped down 38 Special and onto Millcreek trail.  Cow poop trail would be a better name for Millcreek btw. Looking forward to next year’s race without the “Trail of Poop”.  A road ride up to the resort (yep there is ~2.5 miles of pavement)  then a jump onto the singletrack again for a few miles with Barb finishing back at the camp, much to the delight of my dogs. 

A night of beer and conversation, very typical for us.

The next day, after coffee and such, we got an earlier start and rode the 2nd half of the course and the best trails of all.  The gentle climbing of More Cowbell leads to the super fun Perma Grin.  If they could just do laps of this I’d be ok with that. 


It was off to the North Woods and back to the start area.  Tim, Barb and I then rode up the starting road so that they could see the “fun” they would have at the start before heading back down Andy’s trail.

The fun of camping among others, outside of us, was quickly eroded as generators droned on around us that evening.  I had not slept well the prior evening and was hoping to get an early start to bed the night prior to the main event @7am the next morning. Barb, sensing my frustration (and my loud vocalization), decided to have a talk with a few of the offenders.  It was very much appreciated as I was able to get some good sleep.


5:45am alarm rings and my pre race prep commences.  Less than an hour before I’m on the 🚲, I feed the dogs (dogs always first) and prepare engine with 3 Hammer Nutrition Race Caps and 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps, grab my Perpetuem from the fridge and lay back down in bed and do 1.5 X Compex EMS warmup routine on my legs. For what I’m about to do, riding around for 30minutes prior to 100 miles is not on my agenda.  Warmup done I kit up and grab my running shoes for a short jog with the dogs before putting them back in their crates. One last check of my tires and I head to the start.

As I hit the start area with 10 minutes to go, I see Sten and congratulate him on his Tatanka 100 win.  It was a race I had won last year and couldn’t participate this year.  He was a deserving winner.  I expected him to do well at this race as he had finished 2nd the year before.  Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak/Ergon pro rider) would roll to the front just before the start and started to record a video from his GoPro. A multi year winner of the PH100, he would go on to win again.  

Race starts and I’m riding within myself knowing the climb is about 40 minutes.


Being that my birth year was 1966, number plate 66 was pretty cool. 

I rode pretty solidly up the road.  I didn’t push it and when we slotted into the singletrack I found myself a rider behind another 50+ rider,  Jeff Clayton.  He had never ridden here before and I was taking full advantage of relaxing on stretches that I knew not to push the pace on.  By the time we hit the 38 Special descent I was on his wheel and having to brake more than normal. It was after a few switchbacks that I asked him if that dropper post was just for show.  We had a good laugh because he had totally forgot about it.  We quickly rolled up on another rider and we were held up even more on the descent.  At the bottom and clearly at the limit, she pulled aside and let us through.  For all the apprehension on the 38 Special trail Jeff showed, he lit it up on the lower Millcreek section.  Pretty much riding like there was a fire he was trying to outrun.  By the time we hit the road climb he was ~15seconds in front of me and kept on driving.  I settled into my pace, not wanting to blow up early. We haven’t even gone 15 miles yet for pete’s sake. It was about this point when I realized something weird. Where were all the racers?  I looked up the road and behind me, only a couple of us.  Was I really that far behind or did everyone get caught up behind slower riders on 38? This would go on the rest of the race for me.  There’s not much to say about the next half lap other than I remembered where I was when I heard Tim’s 8:45 start cheers.  Completing the 2nd half I headed through the start finish area and was greeted by a familiar face as Milissa was standing on the side of the singletrack with camera in hand cheering me on.


As you can see, I was feeling good with 70 miles to go.

Again, riding within myself, not trying to crush it, I made my way back up to the high points and descended 38 Special. This time there was no one to hold me back and I took full advantage of it.  On about the 15th switchback I saw a huge deer standing in the corner.  I’m not sure what I said but he jumped downhill.  A good thing as I was not stopping for him.  He appeared lower down but thankfully not on the trail.  After 38 I had my near race ending moment as I drifted sideways on some dirt and a root or something caught my front wheel and sent me over the bars. I landed hard on my right side with my elbow and thigh taking the most damage. From that point on I started to entertain thoughts of dropping out due to the pain and general lack of training for an event such as this.  I stopped at my first aid station of the day and filled my Camelbak with race supplied HEED and dumped my Perpetuem in too for the calories and fueling I would soon need.  I had gone 45 miles on my first 70 ounces Perpetuem and had refilled for another 45 or so I thought. Over the next 18 miles I would drain my reservoir to almost nothing. I was still thinking of dropping out at 2 laps.  65 miles, that’s a good effort I thought.  Downhills were painful to my elbow as I would cradle it in between sections that didn’t require 2 hands on the bars. The thought of quitting was real. More real than I have ever experienced. When I finally came through the start/finish area for the 2nd time all my friends were there cheering me on.  Sten had pulled out after 2 laps, he was cheering me when I passed his camp heading out onto the 2nd half of lap 2. He was the first to give me encouragement. Then the wild bunch was dancing and cheering me on as I rode through. Christian was even drinking a beer telling me he’d save one for my finish.  I headed back onto the singletrack and continued to climb.  It was about 1/2 way up the hour climb that I realized I was out of liquid. So focused was I at dropping out that I had forgot to refill my Camelbak. Mouth parched and now feeling the full extent of elevation and sun, I went into major conservation mode. My trip through the high points and down 38 Special were guarded.  38 had eroded spectacularly to the point of no fun.  I winced every 5 or so minutes that my elbow was subject to the brutality of the trail.  At the bottom I was lucky to get water  from the safety guy and a couple of riders that were out for a day ride, I drank deeply draining what they gave me in less than 2 miles.  I eventually rolled into the aid station and took a seat while my chain was lubed and I contemplated continuing on.  I was pretty devastated at this point.  I did not want to ride up the road again.  I had hit my physical limit, or so I thought. 

So, just to prove what I’ve experienced in my life as a Hammer Nutrition athlete, I have not had one cramp during this race.  I’ve maintained an intake of Endurolytes throughout the course of the race.  I’m not sure what others went through but to be offered pickle juice at every aid station because they believed it would help me was kinda funny but annoying.  Just goes to show how few riders really know how to prepare themselves before a race. End rant.

The aid station workers were great.  When I told them I was thinking about quitting they told me how close I was to the finish. Easy for them to say that as they didn’t have another +2 hours to race.  Rested from my 5 minute stop I headed out again up the road.  Each lap up I watched my speed drop.  9-10 mph the first time, 6-7mph the next.  This time I expected 5mph.  I pulled out 7-8.  The short break did me good.  Coming through the midway point of the lap I again came across my friends as I pulled over for the aid station to refill one last time. I really wanted to quit. Elbow pain and 70 miles of racing when I haven’t done more than 56 all summer weighed heavily on my mind. Whatever Tim, Christian, and Barb said to me I was on my bike and enjoying the push off from Tim as he gave me a few last words of encouragement.  The light switch turned on for those last 15 miles.  Thinking it would be 2 hours plus I realized that I still had a chance at a sub 11 hour race.  I pushed my pace knowing how far I really had to go to finish under 11.  Rounding through Snowdrift I pushed it hard knowing there was 2 miles to go and the goal was in sight.  Racing up the final hill I crossed the line in 10:57:04 in 25th place and 3rd 50+ Master.   

There is no way I would have finished this race if it wasn’t for the support of my friends, co-racers, aid station workers, and Hammer Nutrition pushing me on.  This podium finish is a tribute to all those that helped me.  


The bonus was that everyone in our group podiumed


And my spoils of victory were 

Special thanks to Milissa Melle for a bunch of the photos!

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)

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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Tuesday night Laramie MTB series races: Fun, hard, challenging, custom race plates
They let you: reconnect with friends, meet new friends, push yourself past your comfort level on descents, pass slower riders, get passed by faster riders, get eaten by mosquitos, eat same mosquitos, enjoy the trails of Happy Jack, finish at dusk to applause. 

Post racing you can expect: Lycra, baggies, smiles, good food, race talk, beer, awards, random name raffle prizes, thanking sponsors, memories, more mosquitos, online results, online photos.

Next race: more of the same!

http://laramiemtbseries.com/

 

The forecasted storm for this past weekend, upwards of 10″ of snow, never materialized at my latitude/longitude. It did snow some, maybe a couple inches, but the constant drizzle of rain and cold temps sucked. Prior to the ‘Storm’ I was up snowshoeing with my dogs, a friend, and his son. Under calm conditions and deep snow it was a treat. 
Of course Lily could only think of how big a stick she could carry.


Then Thursday afternoon came with rain and sleet. Followed by more of the same on Friday. Yuck and double yuck. 

Waking up Saturday and looking outside at snow flying sideways with the wind I made the decision to stay indoors as the temperature never crested freezing. 

Sunday warmed up under sunny skies and I felt confident that the trails would be passable. Lol, who was I kidding, I fully expected to turn around at the first full road mud moat that often happens when the snow melts fast.  To my delight the dirt roads were rideable. I dodged the mud holes to stay as dry/clean as possible. Thoughts came in my head ” do I climb to Buford or ride through Gowdy? Dirt or snow/mud?”  I chose Gowdy singletrack. 

There was rideable trails and snow.


And not so rideable snow


I had fun nonetheless. It was probably about 75-25% ride vs hike on the trails. But beautiful regardless 


The weather looks good for the next week.  I’m going to enjoy it. Next weekend I’m going to the Wyoming state bowling championships in Lander. Maybe I’ll bowl a 300… Over three games.

Thanks for reading. Leave a message if you like or dislike, feedback is important for me.  

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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.