Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 6 Hours of Warrior Creek Recap

Six hours of Warrior Creek.  This was the six hours of riding that I was waiting for until the last 6 hours of Warrior Creek.  Last year’s race was just a tune up for this years for me.  Goal this year.  4 Laps,  60+ miles and a lot of berms.

Last year’s race my kids were only 6 months old at this time.  That meant for the past 6 months prior to the race, my time was spent warming bottles, changing diapers, and planning how to feed the little hyenas for the next 3 hours.  Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of free time to ride a bike. 

2014 version of the race featured me suffering needlessly very early on.  In fact, I don’t remember a whole lot about it, except that I only completed 3 laps.  In retrospect 3 laps isn’t horrible considering the circumstances of limited ride time.  I do remember suffering for all 3 of them, and then coming into the finish line, just a few minutes past the last cut off time.  That was ok with me.  I was done after 3 and my butt hurt from riding.

Thank you Little Miss Sunshine for the action shots

With the kids being a little bit older and a little more self-sufficient I didn’t feel guilty leaving occasionally to go for a ride while the Burrower watched them on the weekend.  I even woke up early in January and February to go for a road ride when it was 25 degrees out.  I only did that twice.  That was enough for me.  Factor in a hour ride on the road bike on Saturday, 2 hours on Sunday on the mountain bike when I could fit it in, a half day off work, and too much time on the trainer and I was as ready as I could have been.

I got to the course right at 9 am.  Time enough to drop off my gear, park the car, get changed and make it to the racers meeting at 9:30.  The race started on time and I rolled through the start line at 10 a.m.  With 300 racers, I took my spot near the back of the pack to let the other people get a shot at getting into the woods first.  I know where I fall when it comes to speed.  After about 2 miles of pavement to thin out the group and a little bunch up right where everyone entered the woods, it was time to hit the trail. 

Usually in these types of races there are a lot of people who try to get up too far up front, and then forget that they are going to be racing for 6 hours and end up slowing everyone down when they finally realize that all important piece of information.  Surprisingly, not this year. After about 4 miles of riding in a train and a few passes later, the trails were wide open.  Legs and lungs felt good and I found my rhythm for what I thought would be a pace in which I could keep for a while.

About 10 miles into the first lap I tried to make a turn and noticed something.  Or better yet, the lack of something.  My front tire ended up popping so I had to pull off to the side of the trail to fix it.  I haven’t had a flat tire in a few years while on the trail so I was hoping that my spare tube and CO2 cartridge were still in working order considering they haven’t been removed in that time frame.  Somehow, I managed to switch out the tube relatively quickly and put air in it and get rolling.  I was proud of myself considering that I haven’t done a trail side repair in a long time and didn’t fail.  The rest of the first lap I spent trying to make up time and picking people that caught up to me when I was on the side of the trail.

It was a unique experience actually passing people.  Usually I am on the other end of that equation.  With 4 laps on my mind and the fact that I missed the cut off by minutes last year, I had to make up time, at least in my head.

As I pulled into the pits after the first lap, I grabbed food, and two new bottles and went out quickly.  I don’t remember a whole lot of details about the 2nd lap, except that it was my fastest and probably most fun because I kept on passing people on the trail.  I worked hard to catch the person in front of me, I would then rest for a bit behind them, and when the trail opened up, passed them to repeat the cycle all over again.  I pulled into the pits after the 2nd lap, a little more tired but still in good spirits.   I ate a little bit of food and new bottled and headed out.

The tough part about endurance races is figuring out how much to eat and when.  Around mile marker 9 on the third lap, I ended up being about 4 hours in of constant riding.  That is also when I realized that I was hungry and didn’t want to eat.  I rolled into the pits after my 3rd lap, feeling exhausted, hungry, and tired.  Good news is that I hadn’t cramped yet, bad news is that nothing I had to eat looked good.  Against my better judgment I only grabbed one thing to eat and headed out for my 4th lap.  I had plenty of time coming in 40 minutes before the cut off.  My goal was almost complete, barring any other unfortunate circumstances. 

By the time I hit the 5 hour mark on the bike, I was drained physically, and it almost wasn’t fun anymore.  I was zoning out, and coming so close to my legs cramping.  As a precaution I did end up walking through one of the rock gardens, and one of the uphill switchbacks.  Those are usually the worst times that you fall over and can’t move your legs, because the leaders usually want by you when you’re sprawled out in pain on the trail.  It is just Murphy’s law. 

Hour 6 came around and I still wasn’t done. With the toughest section of trail behind me I looked forward to the finish.  One mile left to go and I recognized the last few switchback climbs towards the finish.  Looking down at my Garmin, I was over 6 hours and 30 minutes when I finally crossed the finish line.  I went back to my pit and found my chair and just sat down, trying to drink a coke between coughing fits.  The fits lasted about 10 minutes while my body adjusted to having a soft chair to sit on instead of a hard bike seat.

I listened to a webcast one time of an endurance athlete and he said, “at a certain point everyone’s body breaks down, it’s the mental that gets you through it.”  I have to agree.  My breaking point was a little before 5 hours.  After that it was just me struggling through it physically, telling myself that it was almost over.   I made it though.  I got through my goal of 4 laps.  60+ miles singletrack, and 6 hours and 30 minutes of being on the bike.

I think I am just going to take a break for a week while my tailbone heals.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Trip out of Town

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic.  I sure that everyone always thinks that when their normal schedule gets interrupted.  My schedule got turned upside down.

Two weeks ago me and the burrower had a wedding to attend.  For once it was fairly local, being two hours away up in Asheville.  I roped my sister into using her vacation time to babysit and spend time with her niece and nephew while we went up to the mountains.  We obviously got the good end of the deal.

Taking that Friday off we headed up to the mountains.  With the wedding at 6 that night, we made sure to leave in plenty of time.  Like 10 am in the morning.  2 hours later we managed to find a brewery to have lunch in. Lexington Avenue Brewery.  Good food, and beer with a high alcohol content.  I stuck with a burger and fries, while the burrower decided to get a bit crazy and get some food in which she couldn't pronounce, but decided it was good to eat.

It was served on a square plate, you know its fancy

With more than a few hours to spare, the waitress gave us a brewery map of Asheville so we headed out to find our next target. Asheville Brewing Company.  After another high gravity beer and returning a purse to a woman wearing a full snow leopard print outfit, it was time to hit the third brewery in the area. Wicked Weed.

The beer was good, but I was just impressed that they opened early on Saturday mornings to play soccer games on the projector.  If this was closer, I might just have a stool permanently reserved.  Without a game on, I did manage to find a Nintendo 64 that brought back memories.  I played a few rounds by myself when on of the locals came in.  To be fair, the local was the dad and I ended up losing to an 8 year old.  He wasn't even born when the game came out.  In my defense he logged way more hours on that old school console than I had in the past decade.  Plus, my controller stuck.  That's my excuse and I am sticking to it.

By the time the last beer was downed, we made the way to the hotel to get all pretty for the night.  While our counterparts were on the way, me and the burrower drank a few beers and enjoyed a few moments of quiet (after making sure the kids didn't pull a Lord of the Flies and putting my sisters head on a stick).  We just barley made it to the ceremony, sneaking in just before the music started.  15 minutes later, the ceremony over, the party was getting started.  Multiple shots and high gravity beers later, we were on the dance floor getting down with 90's rap songs.  Yeah, it was that kind of party. 

This was my choice for a room.  I was outvoted no. 

The next week was a business conference.  I had mixed blessing about it being here in Charlotte.  The good news was that I got my own bed.  The bad news was that the events went Monday-Thursday 7:45 am to 10 pm each night.  By the time Friday came around, I was done for.  I went home and crashed.  

I think I'm only about 2-3 weeks behind on this blog compared to my life.  I might just skip it.  I don't think anyone will notice.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Race of the Season

First race of the season.  I knew what to expect, but doesn’t mean that I was ready.  Of course, I have been racing for about 4 years now and have very rarely been ready.  Sunday’s goal was only to get lapped by the leaders one time.  That may not sound like a far reaching goal, but in Charlotte during Short Track season, it is a lofty one for someone who only gets to ride about once a week when the weather is good.  And almost no saddle time when the weather is bad.

The sport class is where racers tend to linger for the rest of their career.  In addition to that, this series is full of roadies.  Little skinny guys, who know how to pedal a bike up a flat gravel road, but have no clue how to handle it on any sort of downhill or technical terrain.

Photo: Cool Breeze Cyclery

Since the race is only 45 minutes long, it is just a sprint and to see how long you can hang on without getting passed.  With the weather being sunny, dry, and around 50 degrees, there was a big field of 23 starting in the 19-39 age group.  I lined myself up near the back and awaited the start.  

When Neil said “GO,”everyone was getting ready to get a fast start.  All you could hear was the click click click of shoes clicking into pedals.  I was feeling a little overly confident and took advantage of some possible newbies who didn’t know they had to get on the gas as soon as the race started to get into the single track right first.  I ended up in the top half of the class going into the woods.  And then reality set in.

Not getting a chance to pre-ride the course, I didn’t have a good idea of what to expect.  Looking at the jerseys of the people that raced before they didn’t look to muddy, but knowing that it rained less than 2 days ago, I had my doubts on how slick the course might be.  

While still learning my new Duo Gremlin tire, I held my own going down the trail.  For the most part it was in great shape, a little tacky and fast, but there were a few corners in which where still wet and slick.  Being cautions the first lap I just held onto the wheel in front of me.  As soon as I cleared the rock garden then trail opened up to the gravel road, and I got passed.  By a lot of people.  Those are the people that probably rode their bike all winter.  Cheaters.