Monday, August 1, 2016

2016 Butte 100

Well, I raced the butte 100 again, and it wasn't really any easier than last time. I did a pretty good job riding and training this season to prepare for it, although June was not a great month after the foot thing. I did cut way back on the beer and junk food for about two weeks leading up to it in an attempt to drop a few lbs, but without a scale I don't know how much it helped. Anyway, the fitness was acceptable leading up to it and I figured I would improve on my time of 13:15 from two years ago by a pretty good amount. I had a goal of finishing in under 12 hours, which seemed pretty reasonable after I spent a full 40 min at aid station 9 in 2014, and felt like I was moving at a crawl for the last 25 miles.

Just getting out of town on Friday was a bit of a challenge. The compression damper in my fork had somehow broken the week before, and the replacement did not show up from rockshox/sram in time.  Thankfully, I still had a few options. Alex at Missoula Bicycle Works had offered to let me ride his new Kona Hei Hei, but getting the fit and suspension setup dialed in at the last minute and then expecting to be comfortable on it for 100 miles was a bit of a stretch. Andy and Alex found me a fork to use out of the back, I installed it, and headed out of town.

Once again I camped up at homestake pass, with the thought that it would let me get a little extra sleep and ensure I wasn't late to the start. After registration and the racer's meeting I grabbed some dinner with Cory and Evan, and then headed up.

We got to bed not long after 10, and then noticed the loud music playing at a camp site across the road. They shut it down at probably like 11:30, but I'm not really sure I got any sleep at all. Last time I would guess I got a solid 6 hours. Going to bed at 10 and getting up at 5 to race at 6 is not my normal sleep schedule, but I did spend the previous week getting up earlier than usual, and was pretty busy all day Friday, so I expected to be able to sleep a reasonable amount.

Sleep or not, I was up at 5, had my normal breakfast, and then headed down to the start.

We all got rolling and I stuck near the front to start with, and then about 20min in found myself breathing pretty hard and dialed it back. A good number of people rode away and passed me but you just have to stick with your own pace and not try to keep up with anyone else. I ate on the bike and rode past aid station 1, and just made a quick stop for water at AS2. At stop 3 I had left a drop bag, and took off my arm warmers, ate some food, and put on more sunscreen. At 4 I just filled water. Then stopped for snacks at 5, where I was surprised to find someone had stuck chain lube in my bag. Whoever did that, let me know so I can give it back. There were some sandy water crossings just before that threw a bunch of grit into the drivetrain so that was really useful.

The first 50 miles went about the same as last time (fairly quick and uneventful), but I did drink and eat a bit more, and also brought electrolyte pills. It was already pretty warm by mile 25 or so and I was going through a good amount of water.

The 2nd half starts by descending from homestake pass along the interstate. It's a pretty steep, loose, and sandy descent, but not too bad as long as you pick the right lines and try to stay on the harder packed stuff. Might be a little hectic going through there in a big group at the start of the 50mi race though. Then you take a quick road section up to a trailhead. As soon as I turned and the road started going up, I noticed that it was getting pretty hot. I watched the temp reading climb to 89.9 before I got into shade and it leveled out. Two years ago at the same place it was under 70. At the next aid station I stopped for a bit, took some more electrolytes, and made myself eat some more food. It was hot and I knew I needed to eat so I took my time, and a few guys went by me there.

The next 10 miles goes pretty quick and then you are at aid station 8, at the bottom of basin creek. This is where the climb up to the continental divide starts, and is the hardest part of the race. I took my time and ate more food, including some chips, beef jerky, about a whole big orange, and most of a can of coke. At this point I feel like I was still on top of nutrition, whereas last time I was behind. I stuck a 3rd water bottle in my jersey and started climbing. At this point the garmin had been reading over 90 for quite some time and it didn't really cool down with more elevation and shade.

The book for butte says it is 11.1 miles with a total of 2600 feet of climbing to the next aid station but that's a lie. I recorded about 12.5 and 3000 vertical feet. And drank 3 full bottle of water in the ~2 hours it took me. Two years ago this was the section where things went bad for me. It just seems to go on forever. You get to what you think is the top, but you're not there yet. Not even close. You descend a bit and then are on an even longer climb. Things level out, and you think, "I have to be near the next aid station, it's been so long," but the mileage on your garmin is saying otherwise. You keep climbing, you have to get off and push a few times, and then, finally, are going downhill and come out into the open and the highlands aid station. I didn't go much faster than last time, but felt a lot better, and was surprised to find my friend Cory getting ready to leave as I pulled in. He had ridden away pretty early on and I didn't expect to see him again.

I took my time, eating as much as I could. Think I had part of a larabar, some more orange slices (that were too big and I had to dig from the bottom of the bowl because there were a bunch of flies on them), maybe some chips, gummy bears, and shot blocks. I should have had a can of coke but didn't. Anyhow, I headed out, and was surprised to see Cory about 2 miles in, cresting the top of a climb in front of me. I actually stopped and hid behind a corner so he wouldn't see me right away. The section from AS9 to 10 is known as "8 miles of hell" and has three fairly short but steep and rocky climbs, then you are descending for quite a bit to the next stop. Knowing I had someone in front of me, or maybe just because I wanted to carry speed and try to save time on the descents, I was going pretty fast downhill despite being tired and sore. Cory kept putting space on me over the crests, and then I kept catching back up on the way down. There were some close calls, but I stayed upright and on the trail. To be fair, he had crashed earlier and I assume was erring on the side of caution. Having someone to chase was also kind of nice since it helped me ignore how much my arms and hands were hurting.

Then we were at the last aid station. Less than 10 miles to go, and I didn't feel very terrible yet, although I was moving pretty slow and not eating enough. I think I might have gotten 3-4 shot blocks into me, or about 100 calories for 1:40 of riding. Still I went over 20 minutes faster from as9 to 10 than in 2014, and I did drink plenty of water and got in some electrolyte pills.

At the last aid station, I looked in my drop bag and didn't really want anything. It was hard to chew and swallow the larabars, the kind bar was all melted, the honey waffles were too sweet, and I was getting sick of shot blocks, but had one more package in there and stuck it in my pocket (it never got opened). I had gummy bears in there but I don't think I ate any. What I really wanted was a can of coke, and they didn't have any. They didn't really have anything there besides water actually, and seemed to be getting ready to take things down. There were orange slices, but they had been sitting on the table all day and were covered in flies. How hard is it to put them in a cooler or tupperware container or ziplock bag? I know they say to only expect water, everything else is supplemental, but the earlier ones had tons of stuff- sandwiches, assortments of drinks, fruit, electrolyte pills, gels, etc. And if you ask me, stops 9 and 10 are the ones where people are having the worst time and might appreciate a little more stuff. Or at least enough coke for everyone.

So I left, having not really gotten in many calories over the previous few miles, but still did not feel terrible. The last bits of climbing are not too hard and then it is pretty much all downhill to the finish. Once again, Cory left the aid station ahead of me, and once again I caught sight of him on the way up. I got back on his wheel on the descent, but there were a few little rises right at the end, and I had nothing left. I also clipped a rock on the inside of a corner pretty hard through there, but somehow didn't crash. Looking things over it seems the pedal took the brunt of it. So we made it, and Cory got across the line about 40 seconds in front of me to end up 5th in P/1/2. I would never have guessed we were racing for a podium spot in pro class, being something like 13th overall and 3 hours behind the winner. Fairly low turnout, but also gives an idea on how hard it was out there. 53 people started and 31 finished.

My goal for the day had been to finish in under 12 hours, but it took 12:49. Only about 25min faster than last time. I guess I can blame the heat, and maybe the lack of sleep. I just felt kind of slow all day.  Does this mean I have to do it again now?

Here's the strava:

I was going to go into a more detailed comparison to the last time, but I think I will wait and write another post about that later. This has gotten long enough.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, gotta do it again. I think I'll try my hand on it too