Posts Tagged ‘Race Caps’

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

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.