Saturday, May 14, 2011

ICUP Soldier Hollow #1

Too much snow at Sundance so Ed moved the 4th ICUP race to Soldier Hollow. We basically rode the traditional course backwards, and it was hard. There was mud at the start and finish, new cut single track, steep climbs and descents, and great single track in between. The weather looked a little iffy for the 0930 start but it proved to be prefect, and the overcast kept the temperature in a very tolerable range. Much cooler, and easier to handle, than Mesa Verde last weekend.

I toed the line with the Single Speed group again with the lofty goal, as at Desert Rampage, to not be DFL. There were only six guys in the category so I was questioning if I had set my goal too high. As it turned out, I finished 5th and 3rd and 4th were within 2 minutes of me. Not that I could make up that time or anything, but I felt good that they didn't kick my ass and make me look like a poser and sissy-man. I have to admit though, I was gassed and could not have gone 1 second faster. The winner, Dan, cleaned house and my Mad Dog teammate Scott Billings came in a strong 2nd. Nice job Scott!

My gear choice was 32x21 which served me well on all but 4 hills, which I walked, but it was very deficient on the flats and long downhills. My only problem is if I had gone with a 20, I'd be dead. So, it is what it is and I'm going with the 21 next weekend when we race the course in the traditional direction. I just hope my legs recover and I can step it up a bit.

Overall I lacked snap and my legs have not recovered from last weeks effort. I took it easy this week but I just need more time. I actually felt better on my 2nd lap today than the first and was surprised to see the 2nd was about 2.5 minutes slower. At least my mental outlook was good and that got me through it.

As for the race, I started out at the back of the pack and stayed in touch going up the first long steep climb. I passed a Canyon rider half way through the 1st lap and smiled because I was no longer last. I kept in touch with two other guys in front of me and hung about 10-20 seconds behind them through lap 1.

Beginning lap 2 I was still in 5th place, but that was okay because I was not DFL. 3rd and 4th were still in view, so that was good too. Then half way through lap 2 on a long gradual uphill the Canyon dude passed me like I was taking a nap! Crap! Now I'm DFL, and I'm hurting, bad. I kept mashing the pedals with more purpose now and set my sights on the tatted due ahead of me. I finally caught up to him a few hundred yards before the summit and he was barely alive. That was good :-) And right in front of him, within 20 yards of me, was the blue shirt dude. Nice. I'm gonna pass both and ride home to glory.

Wrong! The tatted due was toast and me fell off the pace. The blue shirt dude got his second wind just before the summit and he commenced to bitch slap me back to reality. I never saw him again! I think he came in about 1 minute ahead of me and Canyon due was 2 minutes ahead.

But I wasn't DFL, so all's well that ends well.

After I got home and cleaned my bike and got things in order, I sat down for a bite to eat. That was a mistake! I started relaxing and dozed off in to zombie land and just got mobile again about 45 minutes ago. And now that I'm done with this, I'm gonna go back to zombie land until tomorrow morning.

Can't say I'm looking forward to next weeks race.

Monday, May 9, 2011

12 Hours of Mesa Verde, 2011

It's been awhile since I've updated this blog, but now that the 2011 edition of the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde is finished I thought I write a few words so I can remember next year just what happened.

Like in 2010, Dwight Hibdon and I teamed up for the Duo Geezer class. Our goals were to go faster than last year, and hopefully improve our 2nd place finish. We did go faster by about 60 minutes, but we slipped to 3rd place. The competition stepped it up a few notches and the class swelled from 6 teams to 12. It looks like we finished 62 overall out of 320+ teams. Overall, we were very satisfied with our effort and happy for a podium finish.

Other than Dwight zoning out and hitting a small bump he did not see which had the effect of lifting his rear wheel above his head and launching his body head first on to terra firma, we were mishap free. Dwight did badly gouge and dent his helmet and has shoulder, elbow, knee and nose rash, and a very stiff neck, but that makes for fun conversation and lasting memories. DH is one tough cookie and a great teammate.

I was pleased with my 4 laps and rode consistently. My gps riding times were 1:28:22, 1:32:07, 1:35:04 and 1:35:03. Offical times will be slower. I rode sans heart rate monitor so I have no data there. I felt like I pushed hard and left nothing on the course - I was maxed out. The 80+ degree temperature felt hotter than last year but that may be due to the fact the wx in SLC has been so cold and anything above 50 is tropical. Except lap 1 where is mistakenly used a water bottle (I should have listed to you Paul), I hydrated well with my flow gage mounted CamelBack providing good info on how much water I was consuming. I'm a bad water drinker so having a digital readout on h2o consumption is very helpful to me.

Interestingly, on all 4 laps it took me about 1 hour to feel comfortable. That's probably because most of the climbing is in the first 7-8 miles and the remainder is technical rocks and fast flowy, curvy single track. Climbing is still not my forte but my cornering and technical skills are improving. After the 9 mile mark I felt like a super star! At least until I'd get passed by the lighting fast male and female elite riders, many on single speeds, and solo!!! Like I said, the competition was tough.

DH and I had not been keeping tabs on our placing until someone told me we were in 3rd place. I went to the computer after our 6th lap and saw that we were indeed in 3rd place with about a 6 minute lead over the 4th place team with 5 teams within about 20 minutes of us. We were 20+ minutes behind 2nd place. I was hoping we were solidly in 3rd place and I could do a "beer" lap and celebrate on my 4th. That was not the case and I had to hammer the 4th to preserve our "rightful" place on the podium. Unbeknownst to me, DH's lap 7 opened the gap on the 4th place team and they failed to get in by the 6:00 pm cut off time. So, thinking I was being run down by 5 other teams, I rode a more energetic lap than was necessary. But, we did close to within 6 minutes of 2nd place and we held on to 3rd with 8 laps. I was quite pleased to see my 3rd and 4th laps equal in time. Afterwards, I was spent. I had a difficult time sleeping but woke up happy and feeling ready to go again - except for my ass! I can't imagine how the solo asses feel.

Back to the course. There's a reason the best riders complete only 8-9 laps, even the teams. This is a very technical, mentally demanding course that does not let up for more than 5 seconds, ever. You have to be on top of your game constantly, and at the end of 12 hours you are whooped! Eating and drinking safely, at speed, is limited to a very few "safe" areas. Do not undersetimate this course.

In only it's 5th year, this event has grown tremendously because of the fabulous course, spacious venue, fun people, tough competition and incredible vibe. But more importantly, the race organizers are top notch and have put together a very complete package that makes everyone from the casual rider to the serious pro feel welcome and leave satisfied. They truly know what racers are looking for, and they provide it. The only shortcoming is a lack of a beer sponsor and beer garden - hahaha. But, MTBer's are resourceful lot and fill that gap adequately on their own.

As for 2012, DH and I plan to give it another go. We both feel like a fine wine - we get better with age. Who knows, maybe the elusive top of the podium with be in our future.

Stay tuned...