Oh the joys of racing and the human body. The ying and yang. The black and white. The positive and negative. I had the best ride and the worst ride I have had on a bike, in a very, very, very, very long time. Did I mention a very long time?! Everything was dialed, but something decided to make an interesting race for myself.
The Carney Bros. and myself drove the 4 hours down to Gunnison on Saturday to get in a little pre ride and set up camp for the evening. The location: Hartman Rocks just south of town. It's a chunk of BLM land with a bit of everything to make for a good course....rocks, single track, double track, sand, and some rock drops. There were no big long climbs here, but a bunch of power climbs. It always seemed like you were going up or down with only a few sections to recover and feed your face. Simply follow the arrows and orange flagging tape.
As mentioned above....good trail and good views.
Rock formations similar to this one pretty much make up the entire course. Sometimes you ride around them....some times you ride right through the middle of them.
The race started on Sunday AM at about 7. We were all greeted to cloudy, cool, and rainy skies. Not too much rain though...just enough to mess with peoples mental game for the day. The start line had about 120 riders ready to rock. In the 2 lap 64 mile race there was about 55 of us. There was no lack of talent today with many many local fast guys, and the well respected Travis Brown.
Heading into the race I felt good. Everything leading up was perfect. I got 10 hours of sleep the night before, the legs felt light and snappy, and the stress level in the time leading up to the start was super low. The race would start out with a short 100 yard climb followed by another 300 yard steeper dirt road climb. I had my plan in my head....go out at a sharp high temp pace then settle into my rhythm and not worry about other riders. The gun went off and local rider Jordan Carr attacked the climb on his SS. I was just behind in 2nd doing my race. He stayed up front for the first 2 climbs, followed by myself about 30 yards back. Another 30-50 yards back was the rest of the field. We crested the hill and started on the 1.5 mile dirt road out to the singletrack. I soon caught Jordan as he was under-geared for the road section. I settled in and keep on riding. Shortly I was joined by Travis Brown and 2 others. We rode paceline to the singletrack ....and the race was on.
They put a small gap on me...but that was fine. I needed to go my pace to survive the 64 miles. My plan and goal was to hit that magic lap time of roughly 3 hours without over doing the pace. This would get me through the event in just over 6 hours and a estimated top 5 spot. I keep on the course pounding out the miles...and was caught by some riders here and there. About 1/2 way through the lap I got a little over confident in my tire hook up and washed out. I laid the bike down, and broke off the remote lock out lever from my Magura Durin. Not really a big deal...but a blow to the flow I had going. I got up quickly and kept riding. I pushed out the 1st lap....taking down three 24 oz bottles of Cytomax supplemented with endurolyte power, 1 power bar, and 2 bags of Clif Bloks.
I would pull in from lap 1 at roughly 3 hours and 3 minutes for the 32 mile course. I stopped at my cooler near the start line. I swapped out for another 3 bottles, 1 power bar, and 2 bags of Clif Bloks. Since they were in front of me, I also inhaled 4 endurolyte pills to fend off any potential cramps. I clipped in and headed off for the last lap. When I left that pit and hit the lap button on my Suunto T6 it read 3 hours 5 minutes. Perfect! Everything is right on track. I headed out on course....up the switch back climb....up the fire road climb....and to the fireroad out to the singletrack. I took the time and effort on the fire road to take in the Power Bar..and wash it down with the drink mix in the bottle. On the last bite of the Power Bar, my gag reflexes were triggered. Not sure why or how. It was like the body was rejecting all nutrition intake. I managed to get it down....but about 100 yards later it came up....and came up fast! I just got my head off to the side, but managed to blow Power Bar all over my outer right leg. My stomach did not hurt nor did I feel like I was eating too much...I had no further desire to eat or drink. I pushed on hoping to ride through it...as I have in past events.
Things just got worse. I couldn't eat or drink. I didn't even want to...even though I needed to. My speed dropped to a crawl. In some case I would have to walk and even stop and just chill for a second or 2. During this time, riders are catching me. Due to not eating or drinking, I was getting weaker by the minute. Climbs that were ridden the first lap were now walked up. Fire roads that were big ringed....were now coasted down. My goal of a 3 hour - 3 hour 15 minute laps faded in an instant. This was now a survival race for me. I kept moving forward...and being passed by other riders. Many folks asked if I was OK....but I was so baked out of my head that I didn't even say anything as they rode by. I ended up finishing the lap in 4 hours and 14 minutes!!! Almost 1.5 hours slower than the first lap. When I got done, I just sat down. I didn't really hurt...but was sleepy tired. I was so demoralized that I went backwards that last lap...and only drank about 15 oz of liquid over the process of 4 hours. I had absolutely had no urge to drink....I didn't feel thirsty. Can you say post race dehydration!
It took about 2 hours after I finished before I had the urge, want, need to eat/drink anything. Don't ask me what happed, cause I don't know. It could have been something I ate, drank, or did in the days leading up to the event. But heck, I can't nail it down. I don't even feel like I ate that much. I was no different from any other race or training ride of that length or intensity. What ever it was, it came in an instant. As I sit here and type this post I feel fine...like I rode my bike 64 miles...with the regular post race aches and pains. By the time I crawled across the finish line, I had dropped out of the top 10 all the way down to 26th. Damn.
The final results. I though for sure I would be one of the final riders in. I walked and stopped so many times on the last lap. It sucked. If my plan would have panned out the way I wanted it to averaging 3 hour and 5 minutes laps it would have put me in roughly the top 5. Some items to note in the final results: Travis Brown won while flatting twice....2nd place rider, Brae is only 15 and also flatted.....potential winner, Ethan Passant, DNF'd due to a broken pedal. And that, is how the wheel rolls this weekend.
Here is the final 2 lap profile with just over 8,000 ft of climbing. It was interesting to talk with other racers after the event. I seems like the top 15 riders made it through the event with no issues. Everyone else had trouble on course having to deal with cramps, mechanicals, and a super tough course.
At least the 4 hour drive home isn't boring. Picture above is driving over Monarch Pass at an elevation of 11,300 ft.
Now, it's time to recover, rehydrate and start planning for the rest of the week...and weekend.