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:

No comments:

Post a Comment