Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hampshire 100 Race Report

Sheesh..  After two three four (!) days - everything is still pretty sore.

I registered early to race the HH100 (it's 100k = 62 or so miles) for a couple of reasons:  It was my first endurance type race last year (I'm a little sentimental) and you  can save a few bucks registering in advance.  

Not really thinking ahead of the "Tinker effect" - it was obvious that I'd be severely outclassed when some familiar names started showing up a few days before the event.  You know - Jancaitis, Gagnon, Wilichoski, Hines, Lariviere, Spinelli, Foley, Seamus, Freye..  Really - it's just easier to link to the results.  You see most everyone there?  They're freaking animals.

Thankfully at least Andy Gould would be there.  Andy and I have something of a situational kinship.  Ever since the Big Ring Rumpus last year our progression has been close.   Upon arrival Saturday afternoon, Andy and I headed out into the woods, held hands & said a little prayer while holding back tears.  Situational tears.

That evening after wolfing down a pasta dinner from the venue, I went out for a little cruise.  The kind where you ride considerably longer than expected cuz it's so damn nice out- at a leisurely pace of course.   I first headed over to the crazy great singletrack section at the end - then headed out to do a little pre-run of the start portion.

The dirt road section at the start. 

The first real bottleneck area - single file bridge

Heading down the rail trail

Sunset lighting doesn't get much better..

I got back, tidied up the car sleeping arrangements and settled in at the very reasonable hour of 9:00.

I slept ok-ish waking to the alarm at 5:00 am. At about 5:30 the place really started humming.  Lots of cars were showing up in the lot.  And lots of lines building at the porta-jons.

I drank three cups of coffee - ate some cereal then suited & geared up to participate in the pre-race meeting.  Things were happening way faster than expected.  One minute I was chit-chatting - the next, there I am in the Port-O-Pot and I hear "Has anyone seen Alby" over the megaphone.  Crap!!  Squared!!

At the start line everyone is waiting.   No one seems too put off by the delay.  Relief!! Squared!!

The start is announced and we blast round the track - then head off on a short piece of single track through the woods with a log that trips up half the field.  As the lead riders get onto the dirt road a gap already starts forming.  No way I'm letting that happen - so I drill it, and a few riders latch on.  Within less than a minute we're all back together.  At this point I'm thinking that might not have been good energy management.  We've got what?  Maybe another 61 miles to go?

The group sticks together - and I hear one rider exclaim - "That was 36 mph!!" as we whiz along one of the moderate downhills.  Some of the riders are chatting: "about this time last year the experts caught up with us"  "we all figured we might wanna pick up the pace bout then". 

I am blabbering on about being way outclassed and Greg J offers a simple perspective:  "I'm just looking forward to comparing my time to last year".  That seems like a good plan.  I settle in and try to keep the nervous blatherings contained.  Mostly..  

For several minutes I am riding right next to Tinker.  So close in fact,  that I could reach out and touch him if I dared.  I really didn't want to fall into any kind of starstruck funk - but for a moment I definitely got caught up.  All this party could use now is Ned and Tomac.

The group clung together until we reached the footbridge.  Sure enough - things started to come apart - but we still keep fairly tight.  That is, until we hit the first uphill sections.  They weren't very big uphills - but big enough to induce some separation.  At one point 3 or 4 riders started getting hung up riding on the left side.  I see a clean run on the right and blast past.  Again I ponder-  was that too much too soon?  Meanwhile close by, Foley is blipping the throttle back and forth like a strung out thoroughbred.  

After that bit of climbing we headed towards the dread railroad track section.  I say dread as one pedal strike against a railroad tie can bring everyone down right quick.  We make it through safely and now a significant gap begins to form as we head along the long straight that parallels a runway.  The same long stretch that was a total bitch to ride last year (dry soft sand).  At least this year the recent rain has firmed things up.  The lead group has now cleanly broken free. Being a novice moron I start to chase.  Andy is the only one along for the ride...

The effort isn't full on - but it's far from sustainable for too long.  After several minutes I coax Andy into pulling for a bit & he voices concern about maintaining the same pace but takes the lead.  I chill out for a moment - then start pulling again on up to the first significant climb.  Trust me - it's a little disturbing the first time you see it.  "An effing wall" is the best way to describe it.  A steep-ass, rutty, gravely wall.  The grade has to be somewhere over 25%. 

Andy and I drop into the lowest gear available and slowly crawl up the thing.  For a moment or two it looks as though walking may be necessary but we both clean it.  Looking back we cannot see the chase group anywhere.  Onward greenhorn fools!! 

We continue up the hill - and  no surprise, Andy proves annoyingly compatible.  We chug upwards and before long reach the infamous Powerline climb. We can see the leaders ahead walking their bikes.  I drop into super low well in advance and Andy pulls away for a moment.  We both get to the steepest section and humbly dismount.   A couple of spectators are at the top "Hey!" I yell,  "did anyone clean the climb?!"  - Response - "Nope- they all walked" - Phew.. That's a relief.   The trail levels some and we hop back on - then head towards the downhill at the ski area.

Last year following Shawn Smith I nearly went OTB riding down this ski slope.  It's pretty easy to get moving fast and lose rythm / timing with the water bars.  As Andy and I cruised down - there were two riders standing on the right, another on the ground.  I assumed someone had crashed and they were gathering their wits.  Bad assumption.  It turned out the rider Roger Aspholm had sustained serious injuries. Greg Jancaitis and Brian Lariviere stood by - presumably until help arrived.

Andy and I continued on - through  the parking lot, past a little park then on and on and on- and on..  Soon we stop at a station - fill up with some water & Gatorade and continue.  Somewhere near mile 30 it hits:  Cramps.  Little ones at first - the kind I have managed to wring out in the past with reduced effort.  I am losing Andy here and there on descents - but things are starting to get ugly when things turn up.

Finally I break free of Andy bombing some downhills - only to have a stick get jammed in my rear derailleur.  I try back-pedaling then gently forward pedaling - but nothing works.  I have to pull over and yank it out.  Damn - Andy catches up yet again.  We ride pretty much side by side for quite awhile longer.  On a few uphils where Andy has crested first I start getting antsy and at one point start passing on the downside in a not-so good section.  Andy apologizes (really it's my fault for not just asking for the lead) and I go by - I get slightly ahead at another station - fill up and get outta Dodge - never to see him again.  

The trails serve up volley after volley of climbing and the cramps keep getting worse - occasionally spiking here and there in places they've never spiked before.  Having done the course last year - I remember certain climbs that induced some spasms.  One particular climb through a rooty / rocky sections does a number on me.  The tops of my quads can be felt rippling - what the hell is that??!  I am nearly shelled - granny gear up the hills, on the flats - maybe a few more cogs - but not too much - downhills, try to find the best position and sometimes hold the brakes while pedaling to keep the legs moving.  Cripes it's only mile 40.  

The remainder of the ride is pure survival - I stop at a couple of self-serve stations along the way to re-up my water bottle.  At  the second self serve around mile 45 or so a rider swings up behind.  I am standing over the bike - unable to bend my knees much.  He asks "hey- you got any air?"  I reply - while pointing behind the seatpost "just that - you'll have to get it yourself".   Thankfully no-one is around to see this.  The rider (Brian Wilichoski ?) fills his rear tire up - and remounts the CO2.  I can't even swing around to make sure it's secure.  Good job Brian (if that was you) - it stayed put the rest of the way.  

A few more riders are passing now - especially near the 52 mile mark.  It felt like I spent an hour alone at the 52 mile mark! Slowly the little mileage signs crept up:  52.39,  52.48, 52.55 - Damn this sucks.  Brian Lariviere and  Kevin Hines go by,  the first of the Experts go by - then Alec Petro comes up behind while I push the bike up a hill barely bending at the knees.  Geez this is humiliating..  The only trick left is downhills - I manage to drop Alec for a solid couple of minutes but it doesn't take much longer for him to go chugging past on the next uphill.

The absolute worst "I don't know if I'll make it moment" was while crossing a field with maybe 5 miles to go.  The sun is steaming hot, the grass and ground unbelievably slow. Mercifully I get across into some shade then onward down a dirt road and finally:  Into the ending I had been waiting for - sweet, sweet singletrack.  I'm nowhere near reinvigorated - but I'm able to manage the climbs then blast down through some bermy sections.  Greg Jancaitis catches up through this section, compliments my riding (of course - it's downhill) - then wisps past into a switchback climb.  I blurt out "did they have to add this??!" - Greg:  "YES!!" - I deserved that. 

Finally I get to the bridges that I had pre-ridden the evening before - I put a little verve into the remaining climbs - blast past the church / road crossing - being careful to bunny-hop the granite slab lining the grass - and get into the campground area.  Thank the lord.  It'll be over soon. 

I cross the road and put whats left into pushing around the track.  Finally I hear Maz yell out "Hey Alby!!" while I pass through the finish.  Yay - I survived.   30 miles of effin cramps.. Worst cramps ever.  Total time 5:33 - not great, but a solid 30 minutes better than last year.  I'll take it.

I wash the bike up and chat with Andy Freye about an upcoming race  - not too long after, Andy Gould comes through - only 4 minutes behind.  He had a flat - if it weren't for the flat -he'd have most likely gone by at the end also!

So there you have it.  One of the best and worst races in my career.  I need to figure out the proper nutrition and pace for these things.  After the Millstone 12 a few weeks back I felt like I went too slow.   Pretty sure in this race I went too fast.  I went through 5 bottles of water - supplemented with a little Gatorade here and there at the stations and one bottle with a gloppy mix of Perpetuem.  After reading Dougs account - I'm pretty sure some salty stuff may have helped.  I anticipate pickles wrapped in jerky dipped in mustard some day soon.  Even worse I had a little vial of Endurolytes in my pocket.  I haven't used them before - so I wasn't sure if they were the right thing to consume.  They're supposed to be for hotter events - what constitutes hot enough?

The results themselves are misleading.  Take the following (that I know of) into consideration:  Greg and Brian stayed with Roger when he crashed, Chris Gagnon had done a 6 hour race the day before (??!!), Brian Wilichoski had 2 flats and a broken chain, Andy Gould had a flat tire, Tinker and Manuel did this little race in CO the weekend before.   And that's what I know of...  The number of different experiences (really good and really unfortunate) are amazing at a race like this.  

In the end Justin Spinelli won overall with what appears to be a new record of 4:47 and change.  That boy needs a juicy contract.  Paul Simoes (fellow Bikeman) ripped it on the single speed -and the list goes on and on.  The Tinker effect was in full swing - lots of talent showed up for the 5th annual HH100. Lets hope things stay that way. 

The event is amazing itself.  62 contiguous miles takes alot of coordination these days.  I can't even imagine how everything is worked out.  It'd be one thing if it was in some state out West - but it's here in the jam packed  litigious East. 

Speaking of on and on - this post needs just a few more pictures - no?

Elite men podium - Go Justin!  With Manuel Prado (insanely gifted) and Tinker (what more can you say about Tinker? He's done it all)

Single speed podium - coupla Bikeman blokes (Paul Simoes / Chris Cyr)

Vet I CAT I podium

Vet II CAT I podium - Oh look, there's Alec and Brian again - and that guy I raced at the Boneyard a month ago :)

Let's hope I can move my legs in time for the Treasure Valley Rally - let's also hope at least a couple of Elites sign up - huh Jonny?  I wouldn't want to misrepresent the Elite field all by myself..

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good grief.

So.  Umm.  Well...


The local fast guys are freaking fast enough... Throw in Tinker (a gimme) then Manuel and it feels like a helmet isn't the choice head gear..

Yer suppose to ride with faster people to get faster - righto?? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Race Report - 1st Annual Millstone 12

This race caught my eye way back in the spring.  It's a newly established event, run by the same folks who put together the Bradbury 12.  I haven't been to the Bradbury 12 (yet) but rumour is its very well done.  On top of that, the trail network produced many positive reviews in 09' during an EFTA series race "The Millstone Grind". 

Another appeal was that I hadn't ever done an endurance event nearly this long.   The longest ride to date was the Hampshire 100 last year.  That had me thinking I may not be up to the challenge,  so a quick & short notice email was sent to the Bikeman team.  Takers?  Nada..  Just one team-member who chimed in that he'd be up there with his family.   Ahh well...  S'pose it's time to step up. 

Plenty of pre-planning took place.  I topped off my Stans sealant levels (and found my first ever Stans goop balls!!),  fixed up a second complete set of wheels & tires, looked around online for recommended sources of replenishment, read some forums and asked a few folks whether or not that chamois creme stuff was necessary & just generally got all wound up strategizing.

Everywhere one looked there was a common them regarding these longer length races.  "Don't start too fast".  Alright then - that'll come natural.  I don't start fast in those weenie sized 2 hour races anyways.

I also had to coordinate a place to stay as my wife and I were headed up to Maine to connect with our daughter the following Sunday.  Where in Maine you ask?  On an island that's a whole mile long with very little in the way of things like running water and stuff.  Thinking entirely for my better half (maybe not all the way entirely) I shopped around online for cabins with lots and lots of stars..  Mo' stars is mo' better - right?

I found and reserved the last available cabin in what can only be described as flatlander paradise..  Oh the irony.  Growing up in VT we surely had a little passive-aggressive thing toward dem' flatlanders.  After grieving over my present state (that's a two-fer) I present... 

Sterling Ridge Resort...  

This place makes wonder if the LL Beaners ever up and duke it out with the Eddie Bauerers.

Our quaint cabin.  Probably close to 1000 square foot of it.  Where I come from - this is called a home.  It really was almost too perfect.  Lucy and I enjoyed the resort lifestyle as efficiently as possible.  After all, I'd be leaving early in the morning, coming back late at night - then take off again the following Sunday morning.

Here we are savoring, wallowing and embracing the moment while cracking each other up at the absurdity on a little rowboat floating across the 10 acre pond. 

I was enjoying the resort lifestyle so much that I finally broke down and burst out:  "Why would anyone ride a bicycle for 12 hours!!?  THAT'S RETARDED!!

While out there on the pond, Lucy felt it was the right time to ask:  "So...  would you be like totally offended if I like.. didn't go the the race with you tomorrow?  I mean, it'd be like such a waste to not take full advantage this place".  What could I say?  It was either agree or drown her in front of all the flatlander lawyers who reserved early enough to book a waterfront location.  I can imagine how the shoreline conversation would go:   "I could get him down to 5 years.. with custody" - "Are you kidding?  Look at that hair! - red heads induce mental breakdowns- I know an expert that can prove it".

Soon it was bedtime.  I drank oh so conservatively. Aside from being woken by a serious thunderstorm with gale force winds - a good nights sleep was had. 

The drive to the race was about 45 minutes away over Smugglers Notch.  Purty part of the state to hang out for sure.  I arrived about an hour and a half early, checked in and set up my feed / service station.  Luckily for the folks camped out - they missed the storm 30 miles to the north.  That'd have been interesting..

Pretty soon we all lined up and took off @ 9:00.   I placed myself maybe a bit too far towards the back thinking "It's a long race - don't start too fast"   I'm somewhere under the arrow. 

So the first lap:  I just kinda hung out.  Conditions were a bit wet from the rain the day before.  I kept thinking "too much tire pressure gotta stop and let some out" while negotiating several rooty sections - I never address it.   About 3/4 of the way in I start lighting things up here and there.  Only to dump pretty hard through a nice rocky technical switchback section.  Ok stupid.  It's waaaay to early for this crap.   

On the second lap I started riding at a hasty but normalized pace.  Through the woods in a few sections I could see and hear Steve Segenchuck yelling out from ahead - so I started counting down the gap. One-one thousand, two-on thousand.. I'm roughly 45 seconds behind.. Don't be hyper, don't be hyper..  Right - like that'll ever work.  I'm just hyper.  That's half the reason I ride bikes.

Third lap I catch up with Steve and blubber something about going too fast so early in the race.  Steve offers "Dan is about 30 seconds ahead".  Ooh goody - someone else to get hyper over.   I get seriously hyper and wipe out pretty hard on a little bridge.  Of course there are spectators - and of course I jump up instantly yelling "I'm Ok!!"  In truth - my leg is pretty scraped  up- it would start to bruise over in 30 minutes.. 

I catch Dan, pass and now settle into what I think to be a reasonable pace.  Each lap I grab a bottle of Hammer Perpetuem.  The stuff is supposed to work entirely by itself.  Let's hope all the rave reviews and advice on the big expensive bag of magic powder is right.  

The next few laps I'm in cruise mode - things keep getting drier, and I'm starting to really nail some key lines.  Luckily these trails are just plain awesome - at least 99% singletrack, not too technical, but far from boring.  Along the way, some gorgeous quarry remains.  I'm in my happy spot.  Just 7 or so hours left to go!!

About 2 or 3 in the afternoon I start slowing down some.  Passing by the the quarry is getting to be a bit trying.  It's fairly warm out and the water looks soooo goood.  Maybe just a quick dip.  No wait, that could cause some serious chafing (side note:  zero chamois creme was used and zero creme was needed in the end for those who wonder if it's possible).  But it'd feel soooo nice..  I'm having my own personal Odyssey strapped to my bike taunted by beautiful cool clear water..

About 7 or 8 laps in after hearing the electronic voice booming:  "Alby King BIKEMAN, 4th place in category" over and over I barely hear "3rd place" while entering the woods.  Woah!  That's cool.  Maybe there's a chance at the podium.  I dig in a little bit going up the first climb - only to be rewarded with some cramps.  Dang.  

I did cramps for the first time at the Hampshire 100 last year.  When it first came on I thought to myself  "What the heck is this crap??!" - It was around mile 40.  Up ahead I saw a CAT 1 guy just plain STOP and grab his legs.  "Oh, that's what cramping looks like - I've heard about that." I figured out pretty quick-like that the key was to keep moving at a speed somewhere between stopping and going too hard.  Yet again the same method worked just fine here - the cramps subsided and I kept an even pace the rest of the way.  I was revisited by cramps maybe 4 or 5 times - but each time they were easy enough to manage.

On lap ten I finally pulled over to have a banana.  Screw this liquid only diet.  That might have been a mistake.  Upon getting off the bike I found it difficult to get into normal "standing" mode.  My lower back was extremely tense.  I had to sit down for a few minutes to massage it while chomping down the banana.  Then - off we go.  Gotta keep goin'.. 

Lap 11 - pull over again and have another banana.  I also have to pee really bad.  I time out the event:  Nearly 60 seconds - that's alot of hydration.  Maybe next time I'll dose up the powder to water ratio.  I take off and pass through the timer: "Alby King, BIKEMAN, 4th place in category" ARGHHH!!!  

Lap 12 - Huh.  I'm starting to feel good.  Like really good. It's also starting to cool down.  Either its the temperature or that amazing relief from the last stop..

Lap 13 - Geez'm I feel extra super good.  I go up the first climb nearly full throttle.  My head is thinking "what the heck are you doin?!!" My legs just want to go.  I do lose some gusto here and there - but it keeps returning. 

On the backside of lap 13 a couple of guys approach pretty fast in a flat windy section that passes through a new growth forest of Poplar or something like it.   I make way as soon as sensible and they go by.  I'm thinking they'll just drift away - but on a little switchback climb I'm having no trouble keeping up.  We get to the top and I maintain pace - down along the bumpity railroad track bed we go.  Damn.  This is effortless. 

There is a short little section of road after the railroad bed.  I pull alongside the leader and have to ask: "Who are you ?- I think you lapped me" - reply: "yeah probably, Greg Jancaitis" - I respond with a goofy grin: "Oh!  Janky!!" He gives me a look like "Dude.. who the hell are you??" Oh, right...  Not everyone knows everyone with general biking OCD reads Colins blog.  I'm such a loser.

I follow Greg and the second guy all the way home.  It occurs to me on the last significant climb before the fun roller coaster ride to the finish that I have the juice to just plain tear-ass up the hill - but I keep things in check.  I've already made a fool of myself - let's not push it.

Through the timer - and yep.  4th place (out of 21 solo riders, 10th overall. Results)

I'll take it.  Being my first serious endurance event I learned a bunch.  I mean, how do you practice for this stuff?  Really..   Go out and ride for 12 hours?  I think not.

My back is SCREAMING tight.  I waddle around aimlessly like a 90 year old.  Steve takes pity on me and helps fold up my canopy thing  - the scene is comical.  (Thanks Steve, I might have never made it home)

Here's the lap tally table: 

You can clearly see the comeback towards the end.  3 minutes separates lap 1 and 13.  Not that lap 1 was supah fast or anything. 

I get back to our cozy "cabin" and Lucy tells me about her day:  "I hung out at the pool, checked out some trails then walked down the road along a beautiful gorge to town and had a facial for only $25 bucks!". - "I had no idea they massaged your neck and shoulders as part of a facial - OMG!  It was awesome!!" 

So while I was beating my body senseless for 70 bucks - she was having what had to be one of the most relaxed days in a long time. 

I'm totally ok with that.  Wouldn't trade one bit of it.  I'm doing more of these endurance thingers for sure. 

Next up:  The Hampshire 100.  Who will be there?  Some guy named Tinker, "Janky" - and that sumbitch Brian Lariviere who beat me for 3rd.  This one's gonna be fun..  

One last bit of irony - I get home after a week on the Island in Maine - and what has been delivered from the good folks at Bikeman?

Oh look!  A Spearfish!!  A bike made specifically for endurance type events.  The kind of bike that helps with old man back pain! 

Hope to have her built up real soon..

Sunday, August 7, 2011

RACE REPORT: Millstone 12

Sorry not quite yet.  Just got back from a week off. 

For now - please enjoy some real Vermont cows: