Thankfully Warrior Cycling got mucho feedback about the whole amateur debacle at the Front Range 60 and decided to create a Pro/Open class. Much appreciated!
Sunday morning, Joselyne and I traveled down to Castle Rock for the Ridgeline Rampage. It was the first year for the event and I had no idea about what to expect other than 6 x 10 mile laps of a fast course in Bison city park. Not the most inspiring wilderness racing venue but it proved to be a great race…
The trails were ripping fast, twisty with loose “kitty-litter gravel” corners, lots of punchy little climbs and all on “wide singletrack”, i.e. narrow enough to be fun but wide enough to pass. It was a perfect race course – maybe not the trails I would choose to ride everyday but it made for a perfect racing venue.
I started off on the singletrack in 8th place and slowly worked my way up into 5/6th place where Jesse Smith and I rode together for almost 2 laps. We slowly picked off the two guys ahead of us and Jesse pulled away around half-way. So I was sitting comfortably in 4th place for the last half of the race. The heat rose to the upper 80s and the sun was blazing down for the last 3 laps. I went through about 7 bottles of fluids in 4.5 hours and was still dehydrated! Thankfully Joselyne was there handing me bottles of EnduraFuel every lap. (Thanks babe!)
Back to the race .. The wide open vistas made it easier to see your competition and I could spy Russell Kappius behind me and Jesse in front of me but, in the end, that order stayed until the finish. I got within 10 seconds of Jesse at one point on the last lap before my quads started cramping! After that, I was in maintenance mode but I ended up only 30 seconds off the podium! I know I was physically capable of making up that 30 seconds but it was just so painful that I just shut down every time I tried to put in an attack. Sometimes your subconscious brain just decides it’s just not worth the suffering and there’s nothing your conscious mind or your legs can do about it. (Brady Kappius and Kalan Beisel were #1/#2 and were WAY ahead of the rest of us – in a league of their own really).
And for my 4th place, I got a cash payout (enough to pay for the entry fee – yay!) and a pretty sweet Rudy Project hydration pack. And got to work on my tan a bit … those lycra leg lines are coming in beautifully. All in all, a great race for me and a fun event all around.
I took 2 pictures this entire trip. Turns out, I only needed one to say everything there is to say about my Dawn ’til Dusk race in 2011 …
The event, as always, was wonderfully organized and executed. Every event organizer could just use Dawn ’til Dusk as the ideal model of how a race should be conducted. Just an awesome time, good people, good vibe, good trails.
An HORRIBLE weather. I had reservations about driving 10 hours to a weather forecast calling for gale force winds, cold temps and rain. But I went anyways and decided to camp (its really the only way to experience D2D plus I wanted to stake out a prime pit spot along the trail).
The race started at 7am with calm, clear and cold skies. My plan was to go out hard, keep going at tempo pace until I cracked, then just try to hold a steady ‘CTR’ pace for the final few laps. Well I was nailing the 2nd lap, riding with the top soloist, when my crank started creaking. Creaks turned to clunks and I quickly stopped to tighten the crank bolt. But the damage has been done – the bolt has loosened up and stripped the initial threads so I couldn’t get the crankarm to tighten. I finished up the 2nd lap with 3 miles of running, one-legged pedaling and scootering along the trail. Lost a ton of time on the trail. Luckily the REI pit crew were able to clean out the threads well enough to torque the bolt back in. I lost 20 minutes but was just happy to have a bike and be able to finish!
Lap 3 I just put the hammer down and tried to get back up to the front. Probably burnt a few too many matches but its better than being complacent and lose your race while stuck behind slightly slower riders on the singletrack.
Then the weather started! The next two laps were viscious winds. Like steady 35 mph winds with 50 mph gusts. I saw a girl get literally knocked off her bike. I was in a strong group of four riders and the leader got blown off the trail into a tree (thank god it wasn’t off a cliff). Dust in the eyes, just holding onto the bars for dear life. It was scary scary stuff.
The wind died down a bit just as the temperature dropped below 40 and the rain started. The trail became nice and tacky; no more dust. I had my rain shell on for the rest of the race and stayed relatively warm and dry but some folks were caught out in the worst of it getting soaked to the bone with insufficient clothing.
The temps kept dropping and the rain turned to a heavy wet snow. The trails were muddy and sloppy; the type of clay mess that sticks to your tires and clogs your wheels in the frame. My shifters were all but useless and there was no traction on the climbs. The rest of the race stayed like this though the trail conditions got slightly better.
In the end, the snow kept coming, the trail and the bikes were getting damaged and it was time to call the race. I came into the pit at 4:15 expecting to go out for 2 more laps but the race was cut off at 5:00 pm. In the end I pulled off 8 laps in 9:15 – a good result for the 10 hours of dawn ’til slop.
Afterwards, the awards ceremony in the circus tent was awesome – free beer, good food, a huge party in the middle of a desert snowstorm. I somehow pulled off a great ride despite the crank incident. Got 1st place in the Solo Male 30-34 and 2nd place overall amongst the solo riders! It was both the most satisfying and miserable race I have ever done!
Jos, Japhy and I headed south to Gallup, New Mexico for the Dawn ’til Dusk race this weekend. For being my first long endurance race, it turned out well. I survived the 12 hour race and got 2nd place in my 30-34 age group!
Packing for a 12 hour race was an adventure in itself. I erred on the side of bringing too much so my little mazda was full. And of course Japhy had to make sure he was amongst the luggage so as not to be left out!
The road trip aspect was fun as usual. Its always great to do the family camping trip, even more so when you wake up in a beautiful desert with some primo singletrack literally right out of your tent.
The trails were some of the finest I have ever ridden. It was rolling high-desert singletrack: some parts soft, sandy and buttery smooth. other sections were rocky and technical. You can tell the trail was designed by/for mountain bikers. There was not a dull moment and the trail was constantly changing and kept you on your toes while winding its way through some beautiful mesas and scrub forests. Truly phenomenal trails with more “flow” than anything I have ever experienced. Even 11 hours into the race, there were still sections that put a stupid grin on my face. Pure desert zen. Not too much sustained climbing but there were lots of little ups,downs and technical sections so keeping momentum and rhythm was more important than pure horsepower.
With Joselyne’s help, I was able to keep the pit time to a minimum. Each lap I would roll in, shove some food down my throat (mostly bananas, lara bars, hammer gel), some beverage (coffee, green tea, or plain H20), get my new bottles (with some Luna limeade, perpetuem or nuun) and spruce up the bike (reapply some lube, tighten a loose crank bolt, etc). And despite really really wanting to sit down and take a break, Jos made sure I stayed on task and would kick my ass back out on the course when I started to slack
The toughest parts for me were the upper-body fitness of tackling relentless singletrack for 12 hours. My legs were fairly well prepared to crank out 12 hours – my hands, back and shoulders were not, however, ready for 12 hours of demanding technical terrain. Needless to say, everything aches right now. Things are numb, chaffed, blistered and swollen in ways I never imagined.
The physical challenges of the race were big. But the mental challenges were even more formidable. Riding for the entire day, I went through about every known emotion, sometimes all in the same lap. Joy, Exhaustion, Self-Doubt, Exhilaration, Rage, Frustration, Confusion, Determination, and Bliss.
The whole trip, the whole experience was a different beast from the XC races I’ve become accustomed to. The physical and mental challenges, the overall vibe of the endurance races … it’s a whole new game and its causing me to reevaluate my season and my future goals. This is what its all about, not doing laps in a city park.
First “big” race of the year and I got on the podium!!!!
3rd Place out of 24 in the Cat1 30-34 race. Here are the results[pdf]. I ALMOST got second place but was beat out by a few seconds. But I did surprise myself by getting on the podium in my first Cat1 endeavor and had some good times and good racing.
Bob Wilcher, Jos and I packed up for a 7am departure and drove on down. Despite my Tom Tom GPS’ attempt to get us lost in the RV park, we made it to the event in plenty of time to register (actually we were 2 hours early) and parked right next to a nice park with some soon-to-be-much-needed shade. Jos went off for a 9 mile run (which, in my mind, is way more hardcore than anything us MTBers did on this day).
This was the first day in recent memory that I rode without arm and leg warmers. The heat was kind of a shock to my system. It was easily 85+ degrees in the sun by the time we started at 12:30.
Didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the course but the word from some of the other chickens was “easy” .. I’m not sure what they were comparing it to. It wasn’t technical at all but had a few sketchy fast, loose corners. And the climbing was killer.. there were 2 miles of exposed fireroad climbs to start the lap, then a series of really steep little punchy climbs intermixed with some singletrack and short sections of pavement. A really fun course!
Before the race, I realized I had forgotten to bring any food with me
- Ramirez and Cuttler saved the day by donating some Gu packets. Bob W and I started out pretty conservatively and tried to just work our way up through the race. But Bob got a flat half-way through lap 2 and had some issues with his CO2 which set him back 10 minutes. Without that mishap, I’m convinced we would have 2 chickens on the podium!
I kept motoring and was able to put a lot of time on those steep short climbs in the middle of the course. Everyone else was shifting down into their granny gear but you just had to keep it in the middle ring, crank up it for 30 sec, quickly recover, repeat. At the end of lap three I had no idea where I was compared to everyone else in my age group and I burnt my last match chasing down a group of three riders in the last 1/2 mile. Turns out one of those guys was the eventual 2nd place but my brain was not functioning properly and I convinced myself that he wasn’t in my age group so I didn’t need to out-sprint him. The way the finish was set up really discouraged a sprint finish; a 180 degree paved turn about 50 feet before the finish line with a narrow roped-off shoot leading into it so there was basically no way to do it safely. At least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Intersting stats from looking at my garmin data: Pacing was spot on as my lap times were 31:38, 32:10, 31:47. Nice. My average heart rate per lap was not so steady; it rose steadily as expected from 166, 169, to 171. My HR was in zone 2 for 3:40, zone 3 for 8:10, zone 4 for 34:22 and zone 5 for 43:32. That’s almost three-quarters of an hour above redline! To put that in perspective, my entire weekend of road racing a few weeks ago (cantua and pine flat) only saw 16 minutes in zone 5 for both races combined.
Other chickens: Turns out Big Rob (in his first ever MTB race) got first place in the Cat3 45+. Dave L. got 5th in Cat2 40 – 44. We’ll have to wait for the results to see everyone else.
Well this was a big confidence boost for me and proved to myself that I definitely belong in Cat 1. Up next … another hard week of training then it’s on to the Counting Coup!