Sunday, September 05, 2010

I Can! I Will! The Park City Point 2 Point

Saturday's Park City Point 2 Point race was well organized, epic, brutal. To say it is one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) 1 day cycling races in existence would not be overstating. Many people, like me, signed up, trained and prepared for this event many months in advance. Hoping that all the physical and mental preparation would allow them to conquer a technical and long course through the resorts and an amazing network of trails in Park City, UT. 14,000 feet of climbing and over 78 miles of winding, rooty, rocky singletrack is enough to beat even the most advanced cyclists into submission. And it lived up to this expectation for me and for many others who came out early on Saturday morning.

Pesonally I felt I could certainly ride the distance, albeit slowly, what I didn't account for was my slothful consumption of fluid, a poor habit that typically yields body shut-down, delirium and apathy for the ride in which I'm participating.

I rode the first leg pretty well. Starting in the 8-9 hr group I was at the front for much of Round Valley riding the wheel of my friend Adam. We kept a decent pace which was actually enjoyable in the early morning coolness. Before heading to skid row I dropped my arm warmers and picked up a bottle for the long ride to Deer Valley. I made it through the aid station and then up again to do the BowHunter/Flagstaff loop and was back at 3hrs 49 min.

After picking up a bottle and heading out things started to go badly. Not drinking early and often has it's consequences. First the general pain of riding for so long sets in, then the aching of my ribs as I tried to breath. I kept riding. By the time I completed the lower part of John's 99 I knew it was serious. I started climbing back up to the Steps trail and I had to stop, the pain was too great. Another rider came by and encouraged me, telling me not to stop. I got back on soon after and started riding again. Up Steps I stopped at least 5 times and each time remounted and continued. The cramping had started and my steady granny gear pace was intersperced with moments of excruciating pain as my thighs, quads or calfs all began to spasm and cramp in turn. I would stop, strech, breath and remount. Miles caught me on Apex and following him helped me to get around Shadown lake. I started telling myself I just had to get down to the aid station and I could be done. I told myself I had no choice I had to make it.

The downhill was ok, if I positioned my legs properly so as to not cramp. However there's a brief road climb on the way to Crecent Mine Grade trail that really got me. Luckily Steve came by and gave me some electroyltes and Alleve to help stave off the cramps and pain. I remounted again and made it down to PCMR aid station. I was attended to by an amazing staff of teammates who provided, food, drink, encouragement, bike maintenance and cold water over the head. I felt revived. I don't know how long I was there, but it was at least 10 minutes, perhaps more. I was somewhat delirious. I knew I had to try to continue, I knew it was silly to come this far and not go for the finish.

So I was off again, with Adam in tow, who had also gone to that dark place of doubt, self-misery and irrational thought. Soon his pace was more than my dehydrated legs could handle and he was gone up Spiro. I struggled, dismounted on occasion, then remounted again. Each time in my mind I told myself I CAN!, I WILL! Determined, despite the pain, despite the frustation to continue riding until I collapsed or gave in to the pity and doubt and turned back. First I wanted to make it to mid-mountain trail, then to the re-route (which was horrible), then to the aid station on the Mid-Mountain. Dismounting there, while verbalizing my appreciation for their existance, I cramped again, luckily two volunteers were at my side and caught me in mid air as my right hamstring siezed and I began to fall. I would have ended up flat on my back had they not grabed me and my bike at the same time. I cannot express how amazing the volunteers were at this event. A couple of cups of coke, a swiss roll and fresh bottles and I was off again. Knowing I just needed to get past Red Pine lodge, up the last bigl climb and I would hit the LONG downhill back to the final, miserable short ascent before the final drop into The Canyons. I must have cramped and stop 20 more times between Red Pine and the finish line. But every time I thought I Can!, I Will! It was brutal, probably wouldn't have been as bad as it was had I been a more diligent about my water consumption. Live and learn right? It's taken 24 hrs to gain some persepective, to realize that yes, this race was very hard, but survivable. I know my time, my preparation, my speed can be improved. I know I will be back to prove to myself and those mountains that I can do better. I will ride it again! I Can! I Will!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Alpine Loop - first go of the season

So I rode the Alpine Loop this morning. I was supposed to meet the guys at 7 a.m. I awoke with a start and saw the clock at 22 minutes after the hour..Knowing I had to meet Aaron at 6:25 on State St. I rushed to get out the door. Flat tire, I pump it up and leave knowing the tube had an issue because I had just put a new tire on last night. I push hard, no Aaron at the meeting spot. So I ride fast through the semi-dark streets toward AF canyon. I arrive at the mouth, no one there, must have left without me. Slow legs, push harder. I ride into the canyon, serene, scenic. I get to Timp Cave, notice the clock on the wall - 6:15 a.m. Doh! I left an hour early! I borrow a cell phone from a early morning hiker, no service, I contemplate riding down to meet the group, nope, so I ride up, stop to fix my slow leak, blow up my spare tube, it freezes and shatters, not immediately apparent, I bum air off a couple of riders, then a tube, then more air, then get riding again, up, up, up. I get to the summit and within a few minutes they start to arrive until the whole group is there. A rough go for the first circuit of the Alpine Loop but at least I didn't have to suffer chasing the speedsters as they 'unraced' up the hill. Down the Sundance side with Aaron and then off to work. Riding makes most things more tolerable.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Soldier Hollow result

So Saturday I wake up early to the patter of rain on the roof. I load the vehicle, double checking that I have everything for the team riders that I promised I'd bring or that I know I need to bring. One day I'll make an exhaustive checklist, really I will.

The rain is coming down hard and so I don't rush off as quickly as I might. I make some instant oatmeal and follow Ed's tweets on my iPhone. Responding with some remark about turning off the sprinklers. I know the man has alot of faith but things certainly don't look promising. It's snowing/raining at the venue and even if it stops it's likely to be a messy day. Ed doesn't cancel.

I get a few texts and messages from team riders wondering. I assure them it's going to happen despite the weather.

I head up the canyon determined to be there for the team riders who do show and mentally ready to race despite the conditions. When I arrive, Dave & Scott are setting up the tent and I help them get it sorted out. We huddle in the Olympic tower an bemoan the fact that it's cold and wet and going to be muddy, but nevertheless we are ready to ride. More riders show up and the rain tapers off. The snow on the upper slopes behind the course starts to melt. Things are improving. Soon we are approaching race time and conditions have improved significantly.

While warming up we note the very muddy 12& under riders still on course. There's no way to avoid it I figure. Yet once we start the first lap it's not too bad. A little spongy and slick in spots, but rideable.

At the start I fall off from the leaders on the first hill and try to keep them in sight. There are 6 in front of me. Slowly I reel them back in. Dave, Geno, Reed, Vern, eventually Jason, but Ty is off the front and the gap is significant. I can't let up because Reed already came back to me once after passing him, so I know he's there watching me from behind and Jason is still very close. Too close to even make a minor mistake. I want to catch Ty but he's riding strong. I attack on the hills as best as I can and try to widen the corners so as not to slide out. It's a tricky race because of the conditions, and perhaps a bit slower than it would normally be, but overall the revised course was pretty good.

I finish in 2nd and I'm happy with the result, but determined to win at some point this season. I contemplate the expert category again but after checking results realize that even if I could hold my pace for a 3rd lap I would likely be 8th or 9th out of a 12 man field. I enjoy racing against the guys in my group, we have a good mix and it's anyone's guess as to who's going to race well each week. Yet at some point I know the longer distance is what I need to prepare for P2P and other events.

I don't know if I'm getting stronger physically but mentally I'm improving on my race tactics. The inability to go hard off the line is bothersome, but I just have to learn to live with it for now.

Looking forward to Draper and hoping I can keep the pace up again.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Early Season Lessons

Seems like every year I have to learn the same lessons. How quickly my feeble mortal mind forgets the lessons of the past. I flatted at St. George because I was pushing the limits and ripped a hole in the sidewall of my new Maxxis Aspen rear tire (frustrating because 1. it's new and 2. I should have been more patient in my passing) - result DNF. Then I flatted at Cholla due to a thorn which probably was already there and not having enough Stans in my tire to seal it (my mistake for not checking my front tire pre-race and preparing my bike fully). - result 12th place.

So I will give you (more importantly, me) my new priority checklist for all the remaining races.
1. Train and prepare physically so you don't suck and can actually feel like you are competing, don't worry if you are mid-pack or 1st, just be competitive where you are and work to improve.

2. Train mentally, know your course, pre-ride, train to pass, train to sprint the short climbs, train to ride light on the rocks, train so that you KNOW you can race and can let your mind master your body and push your limits a bit.

3. Check and maintain you bike completely. Not just wash it, but, clean the drivetrain, lube it, check the tires for thorns or wear and THE STANS volume, Brakes, etc. Be sure the bike can perform the way you want it too.

4. Nutrition! Eat enough and the right things pre-race that will give you the energy you need. Hydrate pre and during the race, eat a gel before the start. Give yourself a chance by doing the simple things you need to to have your body function the way it should.

5. Finally, know your competition, their strengths and weaknesses. Know who you should pass before the downhills and who you should pace on the climbs, know who will be considerate and allow you to pass and who you will need to be more aggressive with. Knowing these things can make the difference in your race.

DO NOT FORGET to do these things, Write them down, check them off, whatever it takes. That way you can finish your race AND enjoy the results, whatever they may be because you will know you did everything you could to give yourself the best possible opportunity to perform to your capabilities.
Lesson learned? I hope so!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Powder Park

Greg took me up to Powder Park in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Saturday. A good 2,000' climb to some excellent and relatively safe terrain. Definitely need to go back here again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November in Utah

Rick S. and crew on the trail

A beautiful day in the mountains

November isn't exactly considered to be THE month for mountain biking, but typically we enjoy some nice high dessert dryness here and hence the opportunity to continue riding through Thanksgiving most years. Of course there are some days of snow or rain, but many of the trails dry out quite quickly.

This day probably wasn't as dry as we would have liked and most of us were splattered with a good amount of earth during this "lunch meeting" but it was worth it. Temps great, trails fast and a whole group of great riders to follow.

It's days like these that help me regain focus and realize it's about more than simply punching the clock and paying the bills.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hell-o-ween Ride

It was an interesting night on the foothills of Mount Timpanogos. An eclectic group of costumed cyclists gathered to ride the local trails. About 25 riders showed up to brave the cold and ride the route (Water Tank Road to Bettys to Kennys Beltloop to Frank to upper Belt to Dry and back on the BST. The costumes were funny and some were a bit freaky. Overall it was a great experience riding with the motley crew while listening to Motley Crue thanks to Dee "Aaron" Snyder who hooked tunes up to his handlebars for our riding enjoyment. This ride is one of those unique experiences that is a "Must Do" for anyone who owns mountain bike, a good headlamp and a gorilla suit. Hope to see you next year. Thanks Rick S. for organizing the event.

Moo Moo Gorilla and Rick "Madoff"

My Precious

Aaron as Dee Snyder

Danielle the nurse explaining to Kenny the size of buckle?