Disclaimer...no proof reading has occurred on the following...it's random race thoughts.
What a fun but long week ending with my 41st birthday and a 108 Miles of some fine Bend mountain biking.
With a week long trip you can't just jump to the race, you have to lead in! Total mileage for our weeklong trip 1500 miles of driving, two hotels, two packing and unpacking of a full truck of family gear including bikes, and too many miles walking our new puppy Sierra. Amanda knocked out 8 different rides during MTB Oregon and our week in Bend. Rylan my son knocked out about 10 hours on the bike, including three hours riding around Wanoga the day of my race, while I slogged to finish.
Total rides and hours mtbing leading up to race day- five rides, but really four, since the first one ended after a 1/4 mile and a torn sidewall on a new nanoraptor and two flats...next time I should just lighten up the tire around the waist rather than on the wheel LOL! All the above in itself made the week in Bend fantastic!
Like Cali, Oregon was hammered with snow and Mike the promotor scrambled to reroute the course. He did a great job, but inadvertantly raised the difficulty factor physically but more for me mentally.
Race day: Matt Zanner (Chairthruster) from Auburn was also doing the race, as was John Salomito (JMS) from Santa Rosa, and Jared Franzoia from Sac. The night before I stashed my bike at John and Jared's camp and Matt and his buddy were nice enough to pick me up and give me a ride the morning of the race from the Entrada.
4:30 am and it is freezing at Wanoga, I cram myself into the front passenger seat of John's Westy and wait until ten minutes before race start (5:30) to get out.
The race is off for the neutral rollout up the highway before a quick descent. There's a group of about 40 or 50 that separate from the rest of the pack and I find myself leading the second group, before myself and two other guys drop them. A couple miles of fireroad, where I pass Jared spun out on his SS, and a few minutes later we are on single track. Oddly enough the guy behind me asked if I raced last year, sure enough, he and I rode the whole race last year and did much of the same this year.
A couple close calls on the first loop, especially on Tiddlywinks and Storm Kingwhich doubles as a DH/dual slalom course with big berms and numerous table top jumps and doubles. Almost pitched it again over the bars catching a pedal on a rock... but managed to keep it up right, it would have been another high speed superman, so I was pretty excited to be hugging the left side of my handle bar with my arm pit but still be upright and moving. The guy behind me, gave the WTF you must have a guardian angel shout out after I recovered. He told me the back of my bike was at least two and a half feet in the air and pitched left...I think it must have been the new fox fork, cuz it sure wasn't my skills. )
After about 12 miles of twisty up down, but mostly descending, we started the climb back up 2,000 feet in about 8 miles, but most of that climbing was in about 3 mile stretch when we climbed backwards up Larson's trail and Tiddlywinks.
Lap 1 finished, somewhere north of 30 miles about 3500 in climbing and 12.5 mile an hour average speed, in just over 3 hours. My thoughts....damn I'm either going to pay late in this race or have a fast race......I paid!
Lap 2, rolled out over a fireroad and skirted around on some high speed fireroad descents and then climbs before going under the highway. After a brief steep fireroad climb, we turn right onto ST and making our way to Swampy meadows. This fireroad is one of the last open spots of the course I will see. The Bend trail system is a manic web of twists and turns and I kid you not with NO extended line of sight, since you spend most of your time zigging and zagging through trees. After the turn on the ST, it starts going up and it doesn't stop for about six miles. The climbing isn't your smooth fireroad climbing, it's punchy step up , step down, repeat type climbing, with added rocks and roots mixed in. very hard to control your effort, at least for me. Average speed has fallen to 11 mph..and continuing to fall.
We hit Swampy meadows, grab Gogurt, licorice, and refill my Infinit bottles. We start climbing again, more punchy, twisty, miles and miles of ST. Peak out and begin a wicked roller coaster on Sector 16, before hitting Whoops, and then more climbing before we hit Skyliner and the sno park. I grab a couple more gogurts, stash licorice in m pocket and a handful of hammer gels. Infinite bottle refilled, but also go to a bottle of water. The next ten miles are all climbing but it's nothing outlandish. It starts out on three miles of fireroad and my legs and heart rate are thankful for the smooth consistent effort. I actually pick up a few riders entering the ST, and I'm staying in my 39x30 combo. Unfortunately, it was also about this time that my Gogurt experience was catching up to me....I spent the next six miles climbing, and both puckering and pushing the pedals as hard as I could. I'd already lost a pair of gloves early this week, and wasn't about to lose another set due to probiotics! Like the other climbing, the climbing in the ST was punchy, climb a bit, descend a lil less, and repeat. I hit the cutover to Farewell trail which is about six miles of descending to Tomola Falls, it's sketchy, steep and changes climate zones as you drop. I hit the bottom and was like a cow coming home as I knew there were public restrooms at the very busy parking lot trail head. The race flagger was trying to wave me left, but I kept telling him NO I have to GO! He realized what I was saying and stepped aside so I could head up the road. I blew by a group of Seniors (the 62+ kind) and was lucky to find the left bathroom open. Off the bike, into the stall, and all sense of sanitary requirements aside, I did my job....still with heart rate somewhere in the 150s...and a few exhales of relief. It was only then that I realized I had an audience outside the door, as the group of Seniors I rode by were waiting for their turn at that beautiful national park throne! I sheepishly smiled on my way out and rolled back down to the flagger and the aid station.
I didn't tempt fate twice and this time went with animal crackers, hammer gel, and bananas. What goes down, must go up and the next 13 miles back to Swampy Meadows, was more of the same type of trail, that doesn't forgive, up and up and up, then down and down, and again, and again, and again. I hit Flagline, which going the other way would be a blast, and was feeling the mental wheels starting to wobble as it's constants ups and downs were taxing and mentally draining...at about that time is when we started working through a few snow drifts. It's also at this point, you start to not like these damn swoopy turning never ending ST. Finally I make it to Swampy Meadows Aid Station. They tune up my bike while I grab more licorice and animal crackers, and of course refill bottles.
Lap 3, average mph is now down to 9.8, but that's still pretty good I tell myself. I leave Swampy and follow the same path as loop two, but it looks different and it is quiet. I stop a couple times and listen for other riders and nothing. A bit worried, I wait again until another rider finally reaches me, as I'm reluctant to ride backwards yet and still be on course. I get my confirmation and I begin on my way, soon dropping the rider that caught me. A couple miles later I reach an intersection and I have in my head that I'm not suppose to do Sector 16 again, it was more because I knew going that way was committing to a whole lot more climbing than i wanted to do..so I wait again and the rider catches up to me again. He says, not doing it was in reference to when we come back around, at which point he points over my shoulder to where the course will come up later on during lap three. He takes the lead and we head off on Sector 16, another mile in and he takes a big hit on the derailer and has to stop. I go on and am now in no mans land, no other riders ahead and no other sounds. I keep a steady pace and finally make the final descent down to Skyliner Snopark. I feel good, knowing, I have one less climb (no Mrazek climb) this loop, so it should be home stretch time. I eat and load up and am on the move.
The final twenty or so! As I'm leaving the last aid station, I ask about the climb out..Not bad they say, it's kind of steep at the beginning, but then levels out. I guess he meant the first mile, not the fact there were about three other steep extended climbs on the loop, before I made it to Flagline again. Flagline as I mentioned earlier is a tough MFer and even tougher the second time around. Between wandering thoughts, I keep talking to Mike in my head asking "Really..there was no other trails to take...really...you bastard!!!!!!"..anyway..I make good progress and my energy levels are waivering but not bad, just what you'd expect to feel now over 10:30 into a race. I start laughing as based on my race last year, I told Amanda to plan on me finishing somewhere around 4 pm. which would be a 10:30ish pace. I was close if the race were the same distance as last year (98 miles) but this year it was officially 106!
Anyway, I come to where I would turn toward Swampy meadow aid and a flagger tells me, hey you're almost done (if almost done is almost ten miles!), you don't go to the Aid station, you go right and head for home. I began to think about the fact, I had just been suffering for about an hour plus and had not been to an Aid station, I knew I had about a half bottle of fluid left, a couple hammer gels, so said what the hell...let's go. I turned right and began climbing AGAIN, but thankfully only a short way, before beginning a ST descent that hit the fireroad (same fireroad near the underpass earlier in the race, but much higher up the mtn). I began ripping down the hill and letting it roll. Cool breeze feeling good and now over 100 miles, I was holding my own personal victory party, as it had been a harder race than last year. I caught a guy and we chatted and I moved past him leading into a steep sandy fireroad climb (Sean might remember this one). Toward the top, I dabbed and had to get off and walk. The other rider caught me and I gave a word of encouragement. I got back on my bike and set up behind the remainder of the climb and he lead down the next fast fireroad descent. Suddenly at the bottom of a straight away all I see is a cloud of dust and he has locked up and is pointing to an arrow, that is pointing us to the fireroad on the left. I roll on by him, and say "close call for a wrong turn this late in the race..." he's behind me a couple hundred yards and we begin gently climbing up the double track fireroad after close to a mile, two riders are coming the other way...looking lost. It's Dave, the guy I rode with and finished with last year. The four of us stop and start discussing what the course was. Around the corner was a T with no direction or arrows, which lead them to believe we were off course. So we turn around and back track down the climb, to the last intersection.
Whether it was because we are tired or what, we all just kind of stare at the arrow and stare down the road and the tracks in the dirt...and discussing tread patterns for which direction the tires might be heading!!!! Meanwhile, riders start ripping down the road confirming that we had been off course. Dave and I get back on our bikes and TT the open fireroad, picking back up those riders that had passed us while we were standing there. Note: We think it was the heavy wind that likely blew the arrow toward the wrong direction fireroad..oh well...bonus miles.
Final pain injection by dick dasterdly aka Mike R., after hammering what we thought was a downhill stretch to the finish, there was one more double track hill to climb. Cotton mouthed and heart rate pegged, I held Dave's wheel insight over the top and we rolled to a finish.
Matt Z. on his SS had just finished right before us and was looking happy to be done as well, nice finish Matt!
John came in with a good time and sat his tired arse down for a well deserved rest after doubling up with the Puff just two weeks prior. Even had enough to complain about some sissy out on the course who was doubled up in agony over cramps....and screaming like a schoolgirl in the middle of the woods. I'm thinking John was having his own Fightclub moment...but i'll let it slide this time.
My totals= 108 miles, 12k of climbing, 11:40 or something official time. I think my overall placing was 46th in the open (not sure age group, but had been hoping for top ten in 40+..doubtful now) and somewhere around the 50s overall.
After the race, I said I'd probably not do it again, 48 hours later...not so sure.....next up TS 100!
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