Sunday, July 13, 2008

Park City Perfect Weekend

What a great weekend it was. It began at 3:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and I still have a smile on my face late Sunday evening. The Park City Perfect 10 held at Deer Valley Resort was a most excellent event.

Jane and I got to play host to the legendary Chris and KC Holly, Lynda Wallenfels and Dave Harris. We had a good time swapping war stories Friday night, all bicycle related surprisingly, and helping each other in the tent during Saturday's 10-hour race. It's times like this that make me happy to be part of the mountain biking community and thankful for having such good friends.

Of the many races I have attended over the years, this one had one of the highest showings of top-notch racers that I've been to. For having only 150 entrants, the quality of competition was over the top. There were a bunch of faces in attendance I recognized but don't remember their names, but I do remember the likes of Brad Keyes, Kenny Jones, Dave Byers, Roxanne Tolley, Chucky Gibson, Jen Hanks, and others that put this race over the top. And what was really cool was the Young Riders Club featured a 14-year-old that turned a 30 minute 22 second lap! And the dude was on the 29er. Bob Saffel was there to, but fortunately he wasn't there to torment BK. The race was a lot of fun for me because every time I got passed by somebody I knew, which was quite often, they would always shout out something encouraging and lift my spirits. It's interesting being a middle of the packer and seeing just how fast most of these guys and gals are. Their speed and smoothness in the tight and loose switchbacks is just amazing. And KC and LW, well their both from a different planet. Really. How they get so much power and speed out of those small bodies is baffling. They've got Kenworth engines and Porsche bodies.

I decided to do this race last week after talking to coach LW who suggested this would be a good training ride in preparation for the Leadville 100. I didn't think my fitness would be good enough to climb this much on a high mountain course, but decided to give it a go anyway. My goal was to do 10 laps, ride the full 10 hours and ride the second half faster than the first. I ended up doing 12 laps and rode the second half three minutes faster than the first half. Mission accomplished on all 3 counts. That makes this a good day.

For the most part, over the years I've been relatively mechanical free. This year has been an exception. Flats seem to be hounding me lately and on Saturday they came out in full glory. Near the end of the fourth lap I ripped a side wall on my rear tire but was able to get the Stan's to temporarily take hold. I only had about a quarter mile to go to get back to the staging area and was able to nurse it down the switchbacks just as a tire went completely flat as I hit the finishing shoot. Chris made a quick repair for me and got me back on course in no time and I able to ride 2 more laps before the same tire had a catastrophic failure. I didn't look to see if the side wall had ripped all the way through or what, but I put a whole CO2 cartridge in and it came out as fast as it went in. I ended up pushing and carrying my bike from the barricade down through the switchbacks back to the staging area where Chris took the tire off and put a new heavy-duty 2.1 Continental Explorer Protection on for me. What a difference that made. With the bigger beef on the back I was at the able to go much faster through the loose and rocky Naildriver downhill section and my confidence and comfort levels were significantly higher. I didn't notice the extra weight climbing and my times became much more consistent after the tire change. I think I just converted from being a tire weight weenie and am going to something more substantial, dependable and predictable. Confidence equals speed.

Regarding the race, my strategy was to stay in zone 2 as much as possible during the first 5 hours, assess myself over the next 2 hours to see how I felt, and then finish off the last 3 hours in a blaze of glory, assuming I still had something left. I have to say everything worked out pretty well. Of the 12 laps I rode, 10 were between 46:00 and 49:29. My slowest lap was 51:37 on the lap where my tire failed and I had to hike. My riding time on the bike was 9:34 and I finished somewhere around 10:35 which was good for 14th out of 32 male soloists. I think I only got beat by three solo girls this time. Thankfully KC and LW were riding on duo teams otherwise I would have been chicked five times. I don't know if my odometer was off calibration but the laps were closer to 6.1 miles instead of the advertised 7 so the mileage was around 73 - 74 and climbing was 9900 feet. The temperature ranged from 47° to 88° and it was pleasant all day because much of the course was in the trees. And the flowers were in full bloom on the Flagstaff Loop which made riding the narrow singletrack through the bowl somewhat dangerous because I wanted to look around and take in the beautiful scenery. That's one of the advantages of riding solo, you can do what you want and not worry about disappointing your teammate.

In ending I want to congratulate Chris and KC on their duo win in finishing just ahead of LW and DH. That is an amazing result and I know KC is still smiling. I also want to tip my hat to Brad Keyes who rode a punishing 14 laps on his single speed to take the male solo title. Thank you LW for your well thought out and effective coaching programs without which I don't think I'd be where I am. Thank you Dave and Chris for taking such good care of my bike between laps & LW and KC for your smiles and encouragement. Congratulations to everyone that finished and I look forward to seeing you at the next event.


Aaron said...

Good riding with you on Saturday. You would have smoked me if not for the mechanicals. Next time I'll learn from you and go out a bit slower so I can finish stronger.

Dave said...

You were looking really good on your last lap and it was great to see you again. Best of luck in Leadville!

KC said...

Brad, you are amazing. Great job. Thanks for letting us crash at your pad and of course for the food.

Grizzly Adam said...

I was missing the race scene on Saturday. Would have loved to be up there suffering with y'all.

Brad Mullen said...

Aaron, it's probably better that I figure out how to go faster instead of you going slower. It was fun seeing you on those last 3 laps.
Dave, when you blew by me so fast I forgot you were duo. I don't feel so bad anymore ;-)
KC, you guys always welcome at the Podium B&B.
Adam, there's always another race.

ER Dad said...

Brad and the rest of the fools that you raced with, great job! I am green with envy that I missed out. Good luck in Leadville. It sounds like you are ready.