Friday, July 1, 2011

Fat Tire Festival - Bike the Wilds Series

4th place sport/masters - 1:57 - 14.6 miles

The Fat Tire Festival is the second in the Bike the Wild race series. I missed the first race of the series while I was at Mohican, so I can't get lost this year and drop a race.

The course this year was almost the exact same course as last year. Some rain the night before made the trail a bit muddy and the rocks quite slick. This year they've broken the sport class in to age groups which I think was a great idea.

They let us "older" guys go off first in a staggered start. I was in the second group going into the initial singletrack. At some point, a slower rider allowed a bunch of us to crowd together making travel over the rocky trail fairly difficult.

Finally things spread out once we hit some double track. Really my race went pretty much the same as last year. I rode a very solid ride, didn't ride as much of the rock gardens as I could have as the rocks were quite slick. I finished three minutes slower than last year, but that was due more to the course being muddy and a bit slower, and walking a few more rock gardens. Comparatively though, I think I rode faster than last year. Mentally I was in the race the entire time, I was pretty tired but not destroyed.

Was quite surprised I ended up in fourth place. This will definitely motivate me to train a bit before the next race at Shannock. Also, I have to make sure I don't get lost this year at Shannock. Hopefully they'll post some volunteers at the intersections that go through public roads. Perhaps that will stop kids from turning arrows this year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mohican 100 - barely

Mohican 100k - 11 hours 8 minutes

Well, at least I now know that I could ride a 12 hour solo though I absolutely have no plans to do that.

It's an interesting thing to think about, why do I pay to challenge and torture myself? Well I had a lot of hours to ponder that question during Mohican. The recap of the 100k follows. It's mostly just for me to record the details, but maybe others racing might get some ideas from it. Here we go...

Mark and I arrived at Mohican Friday in time to register. Our first tough decision was in front of us - 100 miles or 100k? We knew what we should decide, but would common sense win out? We threw it back and forth until literally we were at the front of the line and had to make a decision. Due to the bad training weather, lack of solid training, and the forecasted high temperatures, we decided to do 100k. We hoped we wouldn't regret the decision.

Grabbed a good pasta dinner, checked into the motel, and promptly got no sleep all night. Five-thirty arrived early, and before we knew it were on the main street of Loudonville, Ohio.

The 100 milers started off, and the 100k racers had a 15 minute wait until we began. We started down the road and then up a fairly steep paved road. I did my best to keep my pace solid but not crazy.

Turned left into the woods. It was at this point that Mark got ahead of me. I kept him in sight at first, but slowly lost him somewhere. At first I was rather disappointed in the trails, I had heard they were flowy trails, but I was not finding that at all.

I looked around at the people I was passing. There were a good number of people pushing their bikes up hills that were quite rideable. I knew they were in over their heads; I wonder if they knew.

Finally after about four miles, we entered the flowy singletrack I had heard about. It was mile after mile of tight, twisty singletrack. My bike was hooking up unbelievably. It was difficult to pass on such narrow trails, but people were pretty good about moving over when they could. For a few miles, I had a train of six guys behind me. I felt like a race leader, though of course I was far from it. I told them they could pass, but they said my pace was perfect though they said they kept losing me on the downhills. I've never had anyone tell me this before, but I guess it depends on what your home trails are like. To a lot of riders, Mohican seemed technical. Compared to my normal trails, Mohican seemed hardly technical at all.

Aid Station 1 - 20 miles

After approximately 20 miles we arrived at aid station one. Mark had been waiting for me, but I told him to go on as I could see my pace was a bit slower. Really stretched out my back, refueled, then left after about 15 minutes.

I rode with much less pain to the next aid station. This section was about 14 miles, and the beginning had a lot of good singletrack again. I rode this section pretty solid. The last couple of miles were on the gravel roads. Though this section was marked well, I really wish they could've put out some extra flagging tape just to reassure me. Many hills I would go bombing down not seeing one marker thinking there was no way I would go back up it if I had gone the wrong way.

Aid Station 2 - 34 miles

Aid station two was a hunting camp that I'm guessing was on loan to us. The best thing about this aid station was the cold water mister. Never saw a bathroom at this station, and I wish I would've asked. I also saw a guy that I did a 24 hour race with last year, though he seemed to not want to talk to me. Well karma got him, I see that he was a DNF at Mohican.

Spent 20 minutes at aid station two as the heat was really starting to be noticeable. The single track out of the aid station quickly turned in to gravel road through farmland. That's when my stomach really hit me and I had to find some woods to take care of things. Just when I was getting settled, blam, there was a gun shot. About 200 yards away I saw a farmer, not sure if he saw me or was just hunting groundhogs. I scooted away to another set of woods, wasting probably another 15 minutes. Embarrassing and a waste of time. Ah well.

Back to the extremely hot gravel roads, and some really, really steep ones at that. Ended up riding a lot of the roads with a woman from California. She and a bunch of friends had flown in to use Mohican as a warm up for Leadville. "Do you want the good news of the bad news?" she asked. Good news I replied. "We have one last hill before the singletrack." Bad news? "The bad news is it's called Big Hill Road."

And it was big and long, though I was proud that I rode the whole thing, passing a number of people pushing their bikes. I popped into what I was hoping would be the cool singletrack, but was disappointed. It was very hot and humid, and there was no breeze at all. That's when I realized I was overheating badly. It was the only time in the whole race where I wasn't moving while on the trail. I had to bring down my temperature. Soon I was passed by the people I had passed on the road.

I jumped on the bike and was struggling to get a good pace going. I recognized how my body was reacting from all the hot races last summer. I dumped water on my head, got more water in me, and took a bunch more electrolytes. Though I knew it would be a while before I would feel better.

I continued on to aid station three. I knew it could only be two or three miles left, but it felt like 20 miles. I passed a guy just sitting on the side of the trail looking miserable. I talked him to getting up, and he started riding behind me; I lost him soon.

Aid Station 3 - 46 miles

Finally I saw the aid station through the woods. I only had a small downhill section to go. I popped out of the woods, and was totally crestfallen. The aid station was really just a pavilion that a group was picnicking. I then realized I had to go uphill to continue. This was probably my low point of the day. I was seriously thinking about quitting at the next aid station. I was overheated and I was pushing my bike up hills I should've been riding.

After an eternity, I arrived at aid station three. Though I felt bad, all I had to do was look around at the other riders around to me realize I was doing much better than they were. I saw riders throwing up, passed out, getting rides in cars due to heat exhaustion.

I alternated sitting under the canopy refueling and standing under a hose. Finally after about 40 minutes I felt cool enough to continue. The next cutoff was like in four hours, so at this point I knew I should be able to finish the ride.

This section was mostly gravel roads, and oh yeah, lots of hills. A couple of them the bikes had to be pushed up by everyone - not just me.

Aid Station 4 - 56 miles

Pulled into aid station 4, probably didn't have to stay there long but at this point I wasn't going to break any records. So I sat and had an ice cold coke. About 15 - 20 minutes later I headed off for the finish.

I was getting conflicting reports on whether it was seven or eight miles to the finish. This section returned back to the great singletrack we did at the beginning of the day. But, of course, we had to ride switchbacks to get to the top of the hill. Some I rode, some I pushed. The humidity at this point was so high I felt as if I was suffocating. I literally felt like I couldn't get enough air. Finally to the top, and just blew through the singletrack. I was riding so fast I was afraid I might not be able to react fast enough and crash, but the breeze that the speed caused was undeniable.

The mile markers were ticking down from seven. Before I knew it I was at mile marker one, I popped out of the woods on to a paved bike trail and almost crashed. I didn't have one fall all day long, but here at the end I almost ran into two older recreational cyclists that were wondering all over the bike path. Luckily I swerved out of the way. It would've been so ironic to crash there.

I passed the couple and saw the finish line ahead of me. Behind the people in camp chairs I could all the riders who had finished. I could see my van in the parking lot. I thought I was done, but I was not.

The people in the chairs told me one more mile to go. The cruelty of it all. Back into the woods and up a steep enough hill that once again I was pushing. Over a small creek where the photographer told me to wait, but that wasn't happening.

I finally arrive at the real finish line. Everyone who had finished were watching the trophies being handed out to the winners, and because I was so late, I at least go a big around of applause as I crossed the line.

Finish Line - 62 miles

Mark met me at the finish line and we celebrated us finishing, surviving. Mark finished about two hours ahead of me. Two hours! He didn't need a lot of time at the aid station whereas I needed quite a bit.

Grabbed a chicken dinner to go, checked in with some friends, went back to motel for shower. Once my appetite kicked in, it really kicked in. Woke up in the morning and was still starving. Ate a huge breakfast and was still hungry.

Final thoughts - I'm so glad we picked the 100k over the 100 miles. With the heat and lack of training, I never could've done 100 miles. The heat really hits me hard, not sure what I can do about that, but I really would need to limit my time at the aid stations. It was nice knowing deep down that I would finish no matter what. I only had a brief moment when I thought about cutting the ride short. Most of the day, I knew I was going to finish even if it took me all night.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two weeks and counting.

Less than two weeks to the Mohican 100. To update things, here's what's been happening. I decided not to go to the normal WVMBA xc races I usually do in the spring. Two reasons really. One - I've been concentrating on longer sustained rides for Mohican. Two - rain, rain, and more rain. I really had no energy to drive a couple of hours to race in the mud.

So what have I been doing? On the rare occasion that it's not been raining, I've been getting out on my road bike as often as I can. Finally bought a real road bike this year, a Cervelo RS. About 16 pounds and a standard crank - what a difference it's made in my riding. I bought it at Big Bang Bikes, and the best part was I truly have a bike that fits me. Can't say enough about my positive experience at Big Bang. Heck, I walked in and the guy says with your build, you must have an Irish or Scottish background. I think he was a seer.

I've gotten in a lot of 4-6 hour rides in. No real breaks, just good solid pedaling. The downside is that 4-6 hours is the longest length of time in between rain storms. I really had hoped to get in a couple of eight hour rides by now.

But at least I've been on my road bike. I've only been on my mountain bike like four times this spring. But the times I have been on my mtb, I have felt really strong. I certainly don't have much cross country explosive power in my legs, but I do feel like I could ride a long time.

So now the mental calculations begin. Do I have enough training in me to do a 100 miles? I'm not sure. I feel like the 100K is doable, but 100 miles? Not really sure. On the road bike, doing a century was more a psychological hurdle than physical. I'm afraid on a mtb the problem will be both psychological and physical. I think we'll make a game time decision. Get out on the course and see how it goes, and then decide when the courses split.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And the training continues

Well the training for the Mohican 100 continues. There's been so much rain (insert ark joke here) that I've been mostly putting in road miles. I think I've been on the mountain bike twice so far. The picture above was a training ride two weeks ago, rode out to prospect and back. Took about five hours and 56 miles; not bad for April.

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I'll have to be on my mountain bike for like 11 or 12 hours at Mohican. I've tried to be a bit more organized about my training lately. Mostly trying to get in one long ride a week, one day of intervals, and at least one other day of some type of riding - but the rain is the x factor. I also did p90x this winter, gained a bunch of muscle. I'm just maintaining right now with the p90, just doing it once or twice a week, and trying to ride a lot more. I really hope the muscle will help help at Mohican as well.

Ok, that's about it for right now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

2010 look back

I meant to do this back in January, but just plain forgot. I wanted to write down some memories and thoughts about the last year when it comes to riding. Last winter started with good base miles (slacked off on the intervals though) and before I knew it was I kicking off the race season at Big Bear as usual. Rode pretty strong.

24 Hours of Big Bear was canceled, so instead I went way down south West Virginia and rode the 24 Hours of Creek to Peak. Big lightning storms. We got second place, but I'm not going to tell you how many teams were in our category.

Spring quickly moved into summer, and my goal was to ride the Bike the Wilds series. That series started off with the epic Dash for Cash. Just once I'd like to race that course when it was dry. This past year, the "creek" crossings were more like river crossings of death. Lots of rain made for very high creeks.

Summer hit full force, and I can't remember a hotter or more humid summer. Started off by going down to Davis, WV, with Mark and Hubert. We rode Canaan area. Rode Moon Rocks and Hoo Doo Rocks. We happened to arrive at the bike shop just in time to hook on with a group that was being guided by one of the shop's employees. Worked out great. Moon rocks is very unique to say the least.

Stayed at Hubert's "cabin" that night, and then got up the next day to be greeted by some serious rain.

Headed over to ride Plantation Trail. Never thought it would be rideable with all the water, but it actually was. Rode that rocky trail for what felt like forever, epic. Then at our farthest point from the van, got caught in a torrential downpour. Crazy.

Later that summer that three of us did a one day road trip to Raystown. Took a little under three hours to make it there. Rode the super fast, flowy trails of Raystown. Did about 18 or so miles. Someone described it as a 30 mile pump track, and it's a very apt description. The danger of the place comes from going too fast. And it's easy to go too fast, I know, I met a tree while there. Afterward, we grilled up some sausages at a local pavillion. That was a tough drive home.

Back to the hot and humid summer I arrived. I never had the heat hit me so hard. I was always out of energy. Did some very hot races in Bike the Wild, got lost in two of them. Then went on vacation, didn't ride for two weeks, came home and tried to race and thought I was going to die.

The low point of last summer was making it to the top of the first hill in North Park and collapsing. I had to call it quits, and I had gone like only two miles. No energy, no legs.

Finally the fall came around, and I got all my energy back. Rode the Month of Mud races with Mark. Mark was riding really strong, but it kept me riding faster than I normally would have. I started peaking around in December. Joe Friel would be so disappointed in me.

That wraps it up. Not exciting for the three people that read this, but I didn't want to forget when some of this stuff happened.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mohican 100 or What was I thinking?

So I did it. I signed up for my first 100 mile mountain bike race. Or to be more precise, mountain bike ride. I signed up to do the Mohican 100. My only goal, to finish. Two and a half years ago I did a 100 mile road ride. Didn't think I could pull that off, but I did. Now, I fear, a much harder goal to accomplish. I've started to train a bit more seriously, but the weather here is really not helping much. But I have gotten in a good number of three hour rides on the road, need to up that to four hour rides if the weather will allow.

Here's a little video from Tinker's site that gives some great perspective of last year's Leadville 100. A good motivator I think.