Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stuff I've been doing lately

Since Butte, I've been kind of taking it easy. That first week afterward was not really comfortable, especially that first Monday shop ride. Google did make this cool sequence of the group going over the footbridge in bonner:

Was feeling pretty weak that day and also on the thursday night mtb ride, but by the weekend I was feeling up for a nice road ride and went from Missoula to Swan Lake, which is 115 miles. Here's summit lake, which is the high point of highway 83:

The reason for the one way trip was that we were going to Canada, a place I'm in a lot. I got a few rides in, drank some good Canadian beer, and did some renovations to my grandparents' basement. Here's the trusty caad 9 near a very large bridge

I was there longer than I'd planned, and ended up staying an extra few days to catch the tour of alberta stage, which unfortunately was in the pouring rain. Here's another nice gif:

Doing the work in the basement got me some extra money, which meant a new bike just in time for cross season:

It's an Orbea Terra from a few years ago, which had been sitting in the warehouse for awhile and was discounted pretty well. Carbon, 105, a little heavier than I would like and the tires aren't that great, but it fits well, is comfortable, and pretty fun to ride, if you like that feeling of constantly being on the edge of crashing and/or getting a flat. I definitely need to spend some more time on it to be more competitive, and the two months of not training very well hasn't helped either.

Shortly after getting the new ride I took a trip to Vancouver. Unfortunately it rained most of the time so I ddin't get a lot of riding in. Did have a good one where I rode from Richmond all the way up to the north shore and up cypress mountain, and then back into town and stopped for a beer at main street brewery.

Well, that's it for now. It's cross season so I guess I'll make another post about that sometime soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Butte 100 race report

Way back in March I was sitting in front of my computer, furiously hitting the refresh key on my browser, waiting for online registration to open for the Butte 100 mountain bike race. At 5:59pm, the link appeared, I filled out my info, and paid the $187 entry fee. I spent the following few months doing the usual riding and racing plus some extra long days with a good amount of climbing thrown in for training, so when the end of July rolled around I felt about as ready as I could be. I figured as long as I paced myself, drank water, and ate some food, things would go just fine.

For those that don't know, the Butte 100 is a 100 mile race outside of Butte, MT that starts at Homestake pass and follows sections of the continental divide trail. So high elevation, lots of rough terrain, about 16,000 feet of climbing, and at least 10 hours of riding time for all but the fastest pros (Tinker Juarez has the course record of just over 8 hours). 

Last Friday I loaded up the car and headed to Butte. The race starts at 6am so after picking up my race number and packet in town and grabbing some dinner with Alden and Ed I headed up to the pass to set up camp:

 Subaru, tent, mountain bike, plus beer in the cooler. What else do you need?

 I actually managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep and was up just before 5am to eat breakfast, pack up my tent, get dressed, check tire pressures, and use the bathroom. I got down to the start line for sign in at 5:45. The pass is at an elevation of 6300 feet and at 6am it was only about 30 degrees. Good thing I brought arm warmers.

At the start I let the lead group go and tried to figure out a reasonable riding pace. Also my fingers and toes were numb from the cold, something you don't expect at the end of July. It took me about 20 miles (almost 2 hours) before I warmed up and figured out a comfortable effort. Here's a picture of me somewhere in the first half, I think just before aid station 5:

The next 30 miles went by pretty fast through rocky and sandy motorized use trails and I caught up to a few other racers. I came into the start/finish in 5 hours feeling pretty good. My dad was there and told me there weren't many riders in front of me and I wasn't too far behind. I had a coke, filled the bottles, a guy cleaned and lubed my chain, and I headed out for the second half.

Riding all day means you need to eat a lot, so I was trying to constantly snack along the way and had an assortment of food in my pockets- bars, fig newtons, gels, candy. I also drank some coke at the aid stations which is 140 calories per can. My goal for the day was to get in about 300 cal per hour, which is a number I've heard is about the max you can take in and use during an endurance race type thing. I may have been close at the start but as the day went on it became harder and harder to take in calories.

The second half of the race starts by dropping down from homestake pass into the butte right next to I-90. It's steep, rocky, and loose like much of the rest of the course, and then you end up on some roads and go to a trailhead. After that it's mostly singletrack to the next aid station (#7). I topped off the water bottles, maybe snacked? and headed out. At this point I was trading places with another racer who mentioned this was his 7th trip to butte. I would gradually catch and pass him on trail, and then he'd go by while I was at an aid station. This happened 3 times I think. I was more concerned with taking a break and trying to eat and drink than being fast at the stops so I wasn't too worried about it. Maybe next time I'll try to be a little quicker at the stops.

After a bit more singletrack we hit more roads over to the next aid station (#8, mile 67) and then some serious climbing starts. I'd already done nearly 10k vertical feet and had been riding for almost 7 hours and felt pretty decent. My thought was "ok, a few hills and 30 more miles, it can't be that bad."

I took my time up the notorious basin creek climb and felt pretty good at the top. Then you hit the continental divide trail and some rolling terrain to the next aid station. This is where things started to hurt. 2-3 other riders passed me on this section and I had to stop and get off my bike a few times. I walked anything approaching steep or tough to ride up, and just willed myself to keep moving and keep turning the pedals.

Crossing the timing pads at aid station 9:

The next aid station (#9, mi 80) finally came, and I sat down in the shade and drank some water, then ate some grapes, and watched riders roll in and pass me as I tried to recover enough to keep riding. At the midway point I was 5th in the open/3 category, and coming into the aid station had only dropped to 7th. Then about 8 other guys went through while I was sitting there. I meant to eat more there but for some reason didn't. About a half hour had passed and I decided that if I didn't get back on the bike I probably wouldn't ever. 10 miles to the next aid station, 20 more to go.

Here I am sitting there not feeling good:

The 11.5 mi to the next aid station went slow- it took over 2 hours. This is the section known as "8 miles of hell," where you are on the continental divide trail and hit around 7800-7900 feet. If I hadn't felt so terrible it probably would have been fun to ride. I do vaguely recall glancing over to see a pretty nice view, but I was mostly staring at the trail in front of me wishing that it was smooth like the trails in Missoula and watching the mileage on the garmin. I could have gone past a bear or cougar and wouldn't have noticed until it started chewing on me. Not even the downhill sections were fun, or even much of a rest. My hands hurt, my back hurt, my arms hurt, and it was technical and rough so I couldn't really relax and catch my breath because it took a lot of concentration just to stay upright and on the trail.

Finally I came to the next aid station where there were lots of encouraging volunteers. I sat down for awhile, got some water, a coke, and some trail mix into me, which was enough to get me back on the bike and most of the way up the next hill. The last section continues along the continental divide trail and drops down to homestake pass.  For most of the way up the first climb from the highway I felt slightly better and caught one guy who had passed me at the aid station and another rider on the trail. Once you get to the top it's mostly downhill, which was good because things were starting to feel pretty bad. I kept drinking water and watching the mileage, and seeing that I only had 4-5 miles to go encouraged me to keep pushing and ignore my body screaming at me to stop. I came to a low point (both geographic and figuratively) and a guy on the side of the trail gave me an encouraging push, told me the top was just around the corner and I was almost there. Turns out it was Tyler Hamilton! I made it down what is probably a fun descent and then came out onto pavement and a quick roll over the interstate to the finish line.

Total time was 13:14. First 50 mi took 5hrs, last 50 took over 8, with the last 20mi taking me 3:30. strava link

I got my finishing mug, spent what seemed like an eternity to find a chair (I was on the verge of tears, thanks Ed for tracking one down), and drank some water. Then I went and laid down in the backseat of my car for about 30 minutes, drank some gatoraid and managed to make it back down to the awards ceremonies. My plan had been to unroll my tent and sleep on the pass, still filthy from the race, but my dad was there and suggested we had dinner in Butte. I tried to eat a sandwich at pork chop John's but it was too painful in my mouth. At that point it seemed reasonable to just drive home, so we did that, Then I took a shower and went to sleep for a long time.

My legs, pre-shower:

In conclusion, I really screwed up the nutrition even though I knew how important it was. I think my pacing was good, had no problems with the bike, and I was even pretty competitive when things were going well. So I guess I need to go back there some time and get it right.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rocky Mountain Roubaix 2014 report

Oh hey I have a page about biking, don't I? Well I've been riding my bikes occasionally and did a race yesterday. Going into it I wasn't expecting great results because I was really lazy over the winter and did not get the same training miles in as last year. A few trips up pattee canyon confirmed my lack of fitness but last week I was at least feeling most of the way back. Checking the registration list I saw some names of guys that had been kicking my ass in group rides and on strava which further reduced my confidence in a good finish.

The weather was the other thing I wasn't so excited about. 40 degrees with rain in the forecast, plus it had been raining all week so I had a feeling the 8 or so miles of dirt on the course weren't going to be in great shape. It ended up not raining on us, but the course was very wet and muddy, which made for some exciting moments.

As for the layout, the course leaves frenchtown headed west on the frontage road, goes up 6 mile road to the ranger station, takes a left down to ninemile house, goes back up ninemile road, then takes another left and returns to frenchtown. Total for cat 5 is 31mi while the higher categories do extra laps around remount/ninemile road. Shortly after turning up toward the ranger station the road turns to dirt, while the roads to and from ninemile house near the river are paved, although not very smooth.

For the first half of the race things stuck together pretty well. The pace out the frontage road was fairly brisk given the headwind and I think faster than last year. They we started up toward the ranger station and things strung out a little, but main group stayed together down around ninemile house and back up to the turn onto dirt. That's where things usually break up as we hit the hilly section. Here's the profile:

At the top of that first little climb there were about 5 riders that had pulled a gap on me and I'm thinking, "well, that's it for me I guess," because there was still climbing to do and I figured they would all pull even farther ahead to the frontage road. I bombed down the hill, managed to stay upright on the slick muddy surface and caught back up. Over the next series of rollers we split into three groups of two, with me and a team mate in the middle. From the top of that hill it is down to the pavement and then the frontage road with a tailwind back into town, and my goal was more to stay ahead of the guys chasing me than it was to catch up to the leaders. I stayed tucked and off the brakes through more muddy washboard, really pushed it around some sharp corners, and Todd and I worked together to stay ahead of the guys chasing us. As a bonus I had made ground on Ian in 2nd place, but 1st had widened the gap.

Turning onto Roman creek road for the finishing climb we lost that nice tailwind and then Todd couldn't hang on. I didn't think I was going to be able to catch Ian and was starting to feel content with 3rd place. But then we hit the hill and I was still gaining, and we came to a y-intersection with some random dirt road and Ian slowed down a bit wondering which way to go. He pointed his arm left and I think I yelled "yeah! that's right," but I suppose using the word "right" was a poor choice of words. He started to go right and I yelled and pointed him in the "correct" direction.

Shortly after that I pulled even, and he told me the leader had taken that wrong turn so suddenly I'm in a race for 1st as we pass the 300m sign. We stood up to climb the last steep section of hill around the last curve at the same time, and I'm still thinking I'm not going to beat Ian, but found myself pulling ahead and then sat back down to roll the last few yards to the line. I'm still shocked it turned out that way, and it gives me a win at the roubaix for the 2nd year in a row along with a much better than expected start to the racing season.

Here's a shot of me at the finish line:

And my not so clean bike and feet:

Next race is on the mountain bike in Helena, which I'm looking forward to. I've never raced XC before or ridden out there so it will all be new. Maybe I should do a pre-ride?