Posts Tagged ‘Zia rides’

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.

 

 

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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.