You didn't need to tell me to train.
I got my butt kicked at the SoCal Enduro 6 hours of Temecula. You can read about that race here :-).
I learned my lesson.
Well, I sort of learned my lesson.
Time Heals All Wounds
Within a month, I had completely forgotten about the severe beat down I sustained at Vail. I'd ridden barely five hours on the mountain bike and was, for lack of better words, perplexed at how I could've seized up in just three hours time, leaving the final two hours to struggle, suffer, walk, stretch, cramp, stretch, and flail about on course.
Rest is important, which is why Nicole and I went out and saw Maps & Atlases at the The Echo in Echo Park. With an 11pm set, we were out well past midnight, dodging hipsters and listening to good music. Danimal called in with a late arrival, which gave me plenty of time to pack and forget things like a warm jacket.
We were pumped! The drive up was uneventful, save for the normal shenanigans 5 north between the grapevine and the 580. 2 lanes, 18-wheelers and lots of traffic leads to some interesting use of the highway. Our discussion centered around how the race would be pretty "awesome" and probably wouldn't be "that bad." Tales from Adam Carolla kept us occupied until we raided the Safeway in Napa for ice, beer, Queso Ruffles and cheddar bratwursts. We set up the tents and crashed out. All was right with the world.
|Danimal, the Subaru XV, the sleds, and a Napa background.|
6 a.m. Dan and I crawled out of our tents, temperatures in the mid-fifties, feeling solid. We lit the moka pot and very shortly had café gurgling. That coffee comes out strong with the moka pot, nearly syrup, you could probably stand a spoon up in it. We strolled down to registration and picked up our stuff, huffed it back up the hill to the Subaru XV when it hit us: 7:05 am. Staging was at 7:45. Shit. So as not to panic, we pinned jerseys, set-up number plates, arranged cleats and did all sorts of things that, realistically, should've been done on Thursday or Friday.
|Number plate, complete with timing chip on the back. |
We also had seat post number stickers that contained a timing chip as well.
The good omen of the day? My number was 248. My first 8 hour race would use the same number as my first motocross race. Pretty cool!
My bibs are still in the bag. Socks are on but I'm still in the Vans flying around Danimal's car trying to figure out what I'm going to bring for food. Water bottle's are still empty but things are looking up.
So we're five minutes late to staging and still trying to figure out where we are going to set up. We missed our connection with Jason King due to his cell not having any service. I stuffed my Ogio backpack full with brownies, bars, a 2-gallon water dispenser, Skratch Labs powder, Endurolytes and some chain lube.
With nowhere to put our stuff, we threw it down right next to the start finish line, just off the course behind the banner separating riders from spectators. Real amateur. A big pile of dust already coated our food containers as I scrambled to clean my Spys. With the XV being a mile away and up a steep, albeit short hill, anything that was not here in this backpack would remain at the car. This was it.
Having just made it with enough time to spare, I was able to clip in and roll out somewhere in the first 150-250 riders. My plan was simple: go easy for 2 hours. Then, with 6 hours remaining, take an inventory of my legs and my mindset, and do my best to really give'r for the final 2 hours. If I could just make it to 6 to go, I thought, I might be able to meet my goal of being on the bike for the maximum amount of time. (At the Temecula 6 hour, I cramped so bad that I dropped out with an hour and five minutes remaining. Unfortunately, my lap times were well over that mark, meaning that I'd ride for nothing). I did not want a repeat of Temecula.
The first climb up the fire road was like driving to work on the 110 towards DTLA: traffic. Rubber to rubber, on the brakes, off the brakes, standing, accelerating, stoping again. My track standing skills came in good use, as I was able to remain clipped in until the top of the climb. That was, until the Pinoy on a $10k BMC tried to pass me while we were stopped. He ran into a bush (dumb) and lost his balance into the trailer (dumber), taking out my front wheel. I cursed him under my breath as I picked myself up, wondering how someone on such a nice bike could be such a shitty rider. We high-fived and I went about my day.
Did I mention the course was siiiiiick? 12 minutes on a fire road took us to another five or so minutes of single-track climbing followed by a sweet descent. Some more rolling, some more up and down. More epic single-track through the trees. It went on and on. Eventually, you bottom out at another fire road and prepare for a 6 to 8 minute, steep, heavy climb. A few minutes of single-track and there was a lap. Not bad, my friends.
Lap 1: 57:12
At the conclusion of the lap, I pulled off and dropped by hydration bag. It was too heavy and neither the temperature, nor the length of the lap warranted a bag for extended trips. I was going to be fine with a bottle each lap. Once filled with raspberry Skratch Labs, I was off. Each lap, I planed to take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes to refuel, eat, stretch, and perform any bike maintenance necessary. It would be a great way, I thought, to stay loose in my legs and lower back. Not great for time saving, but I figured the breaks would yield positive results during the sixth and seventh hours.
The second lap clicked off without incident. The course was opening up and the rhythm of the day was really starting to fall into place: Longer climb, rolling, rolling, longer climb, finish line. At the end of lap two, I managed to find the Danimal's electrolyte pills. Full bottle. Back on the bike. Keep in mind, each lap time from here on out starts with filling bottles and eating, checking tire pressure and/or wiping down the chain. I wish I would've kept track of this time and separated it from the actual ride time.
Lap 2: 58:54
I don't remember much of lap 3. Some dude on the Bike Monkey team (or in a Bike Monkey kit) came barreling through on a descent started yelling, "Let me pass! Let me pass!" He didn't realize that a few of us were already bottlenecked behind a lady who was doing her absolute best to descend quickly, safely, while trying to get out of the way as soon as possible. From a mountain biking perspective, this was not a cool move on Bike Monkey's part. Oh well. I took a natural break at some point during lap three. Not that you need to know.
Lap 3: 58:22
Lap 4 started rad because I was feeling all sorts of good mojo, or sensations. Mojations™. All was right with the world. The day started getting a little warm for me, which was a perfect excuse and opportunity to unzip my shirt and blast the bare chest look. The trail was perfect, and I was absolutely owning a breakneck speed section of jagged-rock-rib-breaking fire road that rewarded the "no brakes" approach.
|My view after the race. Wrecked. Beautiful.|
Lap 4: 57:16
At the start of lap 5, I was hauling the mail, but my stomach was unhappy. I was craving bacon like nobody's business. I was imagining bacon, thinly sliced, and crispy. I was imagining thick-cut bacon that was still chewy, though warm and salty. I was imagining pork belly. Then I started on pulled pork, slathered in a spicy chipotle bbq sauce with grilled onion strings on a brioche bun with a fresh slaw and thick cut fries. The last time I went to the Red Car Brewery I had their pulled pork, which is fabulous, more especially because their chef makes all the sauces in house. It's a really nice atmosphere, actually, though I prefer Strand for my South Bay Beer fix. The owner is a strong cat. 4 rider and all-around good guy. TREE!!!!!!
My mind was starting to wander.
Lap 5: 58:59
What I remember about lap 6 was that I didn't think I could finish lap 6. I remember thinking that I was going way too slow. I jumped off for another natural break and couldn't find it in my heart to get back on the bike. I thought about Temecula, I thought about a cold beer, I thought more about bacon, and I ate a chocolate brownie. Lap 6 was a dog.
My hands became the new issue. In my haste of preparation, I forgot gloves. Located back in the campsite, I sobbed through the rocky fire road and yelped while tackling the switchbacks. The next two hours were going to suck.
Lap 6: 1:06:02
I was now well-done and properly sun-kissed, even though the majority of the race takes place under tree cover. The fire road climbs were exposed enough to get in my head and cause me to doubt my electrolyte strategy. "How come I haven't cramped yet." I thought. "It's only a matter of time. Just try and bring'er home."
My hands had absorbed, literally, the rubber on my grips. They were now blistered and covered in the black, sticky substance, which was not dirt or mud but, very clearly, rubber. The center of the palms had the "Pivot Cycles" logo engrained into the skin. I was having a very rough go of it, but still enjoying my descents. I will not, however, forget gloves at my next race. Unless you mountain bike barehanded enough to get the hands tough, there's no way they can be forgotten. Danny Hart doesn't forget his, neither should I.
|Shredded, rubber hands.|
Lap 7: 1:05:33
I made it home right around 3:55pm, and I didn't really bother to eat. One more lap would give me 8 and would allow me to meet my goal of being on the bike for 8 hours. I attacked the climb like someone who was capable of attacking the climb. At the summit, I cracked. Quickly, I jumped off the bike and stretched out my lower back. It was in lockdown mode and none too happy of my decision to ride my bike all day.
Further evidence of my cracking, was my sudden lack of strength. One swerving line gave you the choice of hopping a rock or cutting the line a bit sharper to the right, so as to avoid it all together. The former was faster and cooler, while the latter was easier. I tried to hop, but had nothing in my legs. The rock made a solid contact with my bottom bracket, which sounded a bit like "I told you so" or "Got ya!" Not ideal.
It was coming up the final climb when it all came together. And yet, on the way down the hill through the pits, I was already hungry for something else. I had met my goal, yet, rolled across the line only moderately satisfied.
Lap 8: 1:03:44
"What if I had prepared an ice chest with pre-filled bottles?" "What if I had made the portable food items I'd planned?" An old habit that hasn't died yet. I took a further step back and enjoyed the moment, flashing my exposed nipples to the crowd, many of whom cheered. Some gasped.
J-King and the Danimal crossed shortly after. Dan and I exchanged a strong dude-hug, as well as a look of pain. We'd both done something that was, for lack of a better word, difficult. Really tough. Jason King later said it was one of the hardest races he'd ever done. This made me happy.
Elapsed Time: 8:06:04
Average Lap Time: 1:00:45