Monday, August 16, 2010

Rapture In Misery recap

On Thursday last week I decided to head up to Trenton MO for RIM, a 6/12 hour mountain bike race that's part of the Heartland Racing Series.  I'd never ridden the trails at Crowder State Park but I'd heard it was a really fun race and I hadn't done a long (for me) mountain bike since since Syllamo and figured it was time since I've got some long ones coming up.  I felt bad because there was a party on Saturday that I had been planning on attending, but I really wanted to race and that desire won out.

I arrived at the park a couple hours before the race and saw Zdenek and Adam from St. Louis.  They were both doing the 12 hour solo but I signed up for the 6 hour and saw I'd be racing against Jeff Winkler, Aaron Elwell and Travis Donn among others.  I had my work cut out for me. The pre-race rider meeting was full of warnings about the various trail hazards which was a little unnerving.  When they are talking about the "bone yard" and "widow maker" it doesn't sound good.  The trail was roughly 9 miles per lap and Jeff won the race last year riding 8 laps.

The weather was hot and humid but nothing crazy.  I really felt as long as I stayed hydrated it wouldn't be an issue. Before the race I noticed that my right quad was kind of sore and massaged it a bit trying to losen it up. I figured it would be fine once I got on the bike.

The race started with a short run which wasn't very fast and I was sitting in about 6th when we hit the trail.
I made my first mistake early on.  Jeff was right in front of me and I rode the first lap on his wheel at his pace.  I know that in order to do well I have to ride my own race and not worry about other riders until the latter stages of the race, but in the excitement and wanting to do well I figured I needed to hang on to someone that I knew would be in contention for the win.  It didn't feel that fast but there was no recovery that lap.  I was pushing pretty hard the whole way.  The course has a technical rock garden early in the lap (the "bone yard") some steep non-technical climbs that last a few minutes but overall the course is relatively flat.  Unfortunately I had to ride hard on those sections to keep up.  The downhills were a bit slick from rain the night before so there was no relaxing there either.  I finished the first lap in 48:47 sitting in third, grabbed a fresh bottle of water/perpetuem and headed back out.

I had dropped off Jeff's pace by the second lap and tried to settle into something I could maintain for the long haul.  Unfortunately the damage from riding out of my comfort zone for too long the first lap had been done and even when I backed off I wasn't able to recover and get my breathing under control.  Travis passed me on the last significant climb of the lap as I was spinning in my granny gear. I was really struggling and just didn't have the energy to do antyhing else. The second lap wasn't very fun and I finished it with a time of 53:54.

My third lap was hell.  On the first real climb I had to drop to my granny gear right off the bat and about halfway up my right quad seized with a cramp.  I had to get off the bike because of the pain but it hurt if I tried to straighten or bend my knee so there was no relief.  I must have looked bad because another rider climbing behind me asked if I was okay.  I just had to wait a bit for it to go away.  When I got back on the bike I realized I was sweating like crazy and I couldn't catch my breath.  I rode a mile or so until I got to the aid station that's about halfway through the lap and I just got off my bike, went over there and ate a couple cookies and drank some water.  It was frustrating watching riders fly by.  A few other people stopped (including JP Brocket) complaining of cramps so I wasn't alone with my issues, but I felt didn't make me feel any better.  I eventually started back up but at the base of the climb where Travis had passed me the previous lap I just stopped at the bottom and leaned up against a tree.  That's the first time I've ever gotten to a hill where I just didn't feel I could make it to the top.  I was exhausted and I think I officially bonked.  I eventually finished the lap with a 1 hour 13 minute lap time but as I crossed the start/finish line I told them I was taking a break and went and sat down.  I figured my day was over but I didn't say that, I hoped that I could keep going since I've never quit a race.

As I was sitting in my chair sipping a diet Dr. Pepper I saw Jeff and he came over to chat.  The heat had gotten to him and he was already showered and cleaned up.   He offered me some encouragement but he said his shower felt really good.  I was tempted to throw in the towel but instead just sat there and rested.  JP had stopped after that lap feeling like I did and while we were talking he suggested I drink some pickle juice to help with the cramping.  At that point I was willing to try anything so when his son brought me a big cup I downed it.  It actually tasted pretty good.  Watching people ride by didn't.

After sitting for over an hour I decided to get back on my bike and finish the race.  I felt better so I figured I'd go out, ride a nice easy pace and just try to have fun.  I don't know if it was the pickle juice or the relaxed pace, but that was a really fun lap.   The trails were great and I was feeling fine.  I didn't cramp at all.  With the break time included my lap time was 2:11:26.

I only had time for 1 more lap so I went back out riding like I had the previous lap and again, it was pretty fun.  I stopped at the aid station to eat a cookie and chatted with the guy manning the station for a minute or so.  He was a really nice guy and I know everyone that stopped appreciated him being there.  I ended up finishing my last lap in 1:05 which landed me 14th in my class.  I was glad that I got back on my bike and my reward was a pretty sweet t-shirt that I'm sure I'll be wearing proudly.

While I was hurting, Zdenek was putting the pain on everyone else in the 12 hour solo.  It was his first 12 hour solo race and he won by almost an hour completing 12 laps.  He was a machine out there and it was very inspiring.

Aaron Elwell won the 6 hour solo and actually came in 2nd overall counting the teams.  Travis Donn had an awesome 6 hour debut coming in 2nd.  He raced a very smart race and if he keeps doing the distance events he will do very well.  I hope he does the BT Epic later this year.

Overall I think Heatland put on a great race at a great venue.  It was so cool to be able to shower after I finished and the atmosphere was up there with the best race experiences I've had.  I'll be back next year for sure and hopefully I'll do better.  I've just got to remember to ride my race and not get sucked into the competition early on.  As Travis said it's much more fun catching people than getting caught.

Here's a link to the results, and below are some links to photos I've found:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wheels of Fire

Springfield Dirt Crits Race 2 report

This weeks race was a bit kinder to me.  I came in feeling pretty fresh after taking Monday off and I think it helped.  Ryan was there taking pictures and all the ones in this post are his. 

The number of racers in both the beginner and open classes are growing which is great to see.  Once the weather cools off a bit I expect it to get even better.

Leading up to the race it looked like my competition from last week wasn't going to make it.  Neither Cale or Jerred were there.  Then about 5 minutes before the race was set to start Cale pulls up, registers and gets in about a minute of warmup before toeing the line.  He had been on the road for most of the afternoon and was rushing to make the race.  I was glad he made it.

At the start I was thinking I could take advantage of Cale's lack of warmup and try to push the pace and see if he would back off or burn too many matches early.  I got the hole shot and rode as hard as I could.

I stood up on the climbs to keep my speed up and I was feeling pretty good.  Cale stayed on my wheel the entire first lap.

On the second lap at the top of a climb coming off of the bat cave trail Cale passed me but I was able to hang on and kept him from getting away.  He would put some distance between us on the flats and descents, but I would catch up on the climbs.

On the forth lap I went around Cale at the top of a hill right before we entered the bat cave trail and I just went for it.  I was feeling the fatigue from the 20 minutes of hard riding but felt like I could keep the pace up.  When I looked back at the bottom of the hill near the start/finish line I could see that he wasn't hanging on.  After the fifth lap I couldn't see him behind me and they called out there were only three laps to go.  At that point I just tried to cruise and not make any mistakes.

The last 3 laps went by pretty quickly and I ended up finishing 8 laps in about 43 minutes.  2 minutes faster than last week.

Luckily Ryan was not at the finish line taking photos.  About 20 feet from the start/finish line there is a mound that the trail goes over.  I decided I'd try to catch some air since there was a nice size crowd standing around, but unfortunately I'm not that good at catching air.  Somehow after the jump I got tilted to the side and I biffed the landing.  I had to walk my bike across the line.  At least I got some good laughs.

My nephew Trevor wasn't able to make the race because of work but he's planning on being at the next one in two weeks.  Hopefully it will be a bit cooler.

There won't be a dirt crit on the 17th.  Instead everyone will be at the waffle road race.  I might have to put the slicks back on my bike.....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Springfield Dirt Crits Race 1 report

Tonight was the first race in the A&B Cycle Dirt Crit series.  I've been looking forward to it since I first heard about the series in June.

I'm not a really fast rider, but I can hold a decent speed for a long time.  These crits are a chance for me to work on that weakness.  Plus racing is fun.

The format for the Men's Open class is 30 minutes plus 3 laps.  The course was a little more technical and hilly than other dirt crits I've read about and each lap was approximately 1 mile.

When I arrived at Sac I discovered both of my tires were flat.  They each had a gash in their sidewalls.  I tried to patch them on the outside hoping it would be enough for the Stans to seal them but after a pre-ride lap they were both near flat again.  So I put in tubes hoping I could avoid the thorns.

I took my Stumpjumper FSR to the race because my nephew Trevor said he was willing to ride in his first mountain bike race.  He did well and ended up winning the beginners class.  He said he had a good time and he'll be back next week. 

At the start of the race I got the hole shot and was in the lead when we reached the singletrack. Right after that Cale McAninch wrecked behind me when his crank hit a stump.  It created a bit of a gap between me and the field but he closed that gap before long.  I was riding as fast as I could near my redline and couldn't pull away.  I finished the first and second laps with Cale on my wheel and on the 3rd lap he passed me.  I tried to stay with him but he just pulled away.

I felt like I was riding well so I just tried to maintain what I was doing and see what happened.  With 3 laps to go Jerred Brackett caught up to me.  Now I had a race.  I rode the last 3 laps as hard as I've ever ridden.  I was able to hold him off until the last turn about 20 yards from the finish.  It was a banked turn and when I came out if it for some reason I started coasting.  I don't know why but I did.  He got on it and before I knew it he was next to me.  I tried to speed up to hold him off but he had the momentum and beat me to the line by half a wheel.  It was an awesome finish.  My mistake cost me but I learned a good lesson.

Cale won by a pretty good margin.  It's going to be tough but I'm going to work hard to try to give him some competition in the coming weeks.

This was so much fun and I can't wait until next week.

Here's my Garmin data from the race (note the 101% max heart rate):