So another solo race in the books. Though again brought down by a mechanical, though this was a much more serious one than normal. More on it in a bit.
Course Review: After hearing horror stories about how raw the trail was, I was fairly happy to see that it wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. Some of the trail was very soft and a bit sketchy heading down and around switchbacks, but unless you were riding near slick tires it wasn’t going to cause you any grief unless you went hard into it. There was a lot of opportunity to use pump track techniques to get free speed, lots of little jumps to take here and there and really solid lines down the more known trails of the course. So no complaints there either.
The initial climb wasn’t as bad as I was thinking it was going to be, though the biggest issue I had with it was traction, or at least this was some fairly significant foreshadowing of how my day was going to go. The 2 major climbs were severely lacking in traction for a heavier stand and mash rider, loose stone over worn trail caused a lot of slipping as I stood to try to mash up them, not to mention that any momentum I had would get eaten by the sand wash at the very bottom of the hill leaving me with little to work with. But every lap I made it up regardless and didn’t really whine much apart from eye rolling every time I hit a sand patch before a climb.
The singletrack was really good. Enough tech to keep me occupied, though in some areas almost a bit too long to come up with a consistent hydration strategy. There was a solid 4km before I felt it was safe enough for me to pull a bottle out.
The Sugar Shack Saunter or whatever it was called wasn’t as bad as last years shit show. It was worked in fairly well this time around, though the flow was kinda junk still. Very lumpy and didn’t really compliment the course as well as some of the other stuff did, but this time instead of being a soul sucking slog through new trail, it was very very doable when compared. Super happy to get it done every lap though.
My only major gripe with the entire thing was how the course was marked. Usually the Summer and Fall 8H are superbly marked and leave NO possible mistakes for you. This time around it was very confusing in some areas, leading to some slow riding to make sure I was on the right path. Though they were corrected as the day went on.
I really did enjoy the course in general though.
First Mistake: I use a gel. I’m not usually good with gels, but I figure how bad can 1 be. Well bad enough to cause some massive discomfort later on, sending me to the port o potty some 700M away from the pits.
What a start, some shenanigans at the first chokepoint with people trying to get through. As a Solo I don’t care much about it, but its kinda annoying. Nothing really to report as I hadn’t really truely pre rode the course. I noticed that there were some drops on the course that you could ride, but you’d have to slow down to roll safely. They’d later be taken at speed and launched off. There was no reason to slow down for them. Log overs again no need to slow down, just hit and jump over them… this became a kind of motto for the day. Work the tech, the hills will take care of themselves.
Further laps were fairly uneventful, kept pushing and riding at a very comfortable pace all day. Hills weren’t taking anything out of me.. for the first time in all my Solo races, I’m feeling like this is going to be really good. I’m on pace for 11 easily, and if I play my cards right, its a possible 12 lap day!
On lap 6 I came in and had a seat trying to figure out what was wrong with my gut. I had lots of time, so I just ate and drank a bit…. though I ended up having to move my car for a few people that wanted to leave the race after ducking out. I felt bad for them as I guess 2 major crashes will shake you up pretty bad, so him and his buddy left. This was delay one.
On lap 7, I finally gave in and visited the washroom. The small break was welcome as well as my gut felt perfectly fine once everything was said and done. I got back out on the course, and really felt back into the groove. I still wasn’t tired, I was on top of nutrition. Mentally I was completely good to go, and felt super good. Moving time for a lap was starting to creep down, and I wasn’t planning on any breaks, just to see if I could sneak 11 in, maybe go for 12 if I had 30 min left, just for the fun of it.
Lap 8, half way through I stand to mash a hill crest and get some speed..
Game over. I sheared my free hub apart. I jog my bike over to the marshal and he radio’s back that I need a pickup. I guess I coulda ran the 5k to finish off lap 8, but I figured I had a possible bike back at the start to get through another lap or 2 for my pin. It took about 40 min for the pickup, then another 10min for the ride back.
Once I got back I tried to head out on the geared backup bike, but it was ghost shifting and I didn’t feel like destroying another bike just because I was sour, that and at this point I was hyper frustrated and trying to put on a face for people.
Anyway, packed my things and began the long drive home where I was alone and left to my thoughts, but I tried not to focus on the nasty mood I was in… so I went over the positives only, refusing to think about anything else.
So things I did well:
1. I rode a lot of the tech with decent authority. Nothing hung me up or kicked me off the bike. Instead of rolling the drops, I just hit them at speed and jumped them. I was surprised how much faster that was and how much space I’d gain on other riders by throwing a BIT more caution into the wind and riding tech like I know I can.
2. Nutrition was on. I went back to having Apple juice and coconut water handy. I also kept up on Perpetuem during my laps, stopping to drink some generic Gatorade every lap. I barely touched my Skratch. I also used Beet-It, Endurolyte Extremes, and Anti-Fatigue caps. I think I have that dialed in now. Expensive blend unfortunately, but it really worked out for me.
3. Stopping every lap to fill bottles is tedious. I need to invest in some bottles and come fully stocked up with ice. There’s no reason for me to stop for 4-5 minutes fixing bottles and food, by 8 laps, this is actually an extra lap I coulda put in, and I didn’t need a break.
4. I now know that Gels are the end of me, and I should avoid them like the plague.
Anyway, strong showings by the regular crew that showed up, and generally good vibes all around all day. Might have been the reggae music all day.. that was always enjoyable rolling through the pits and listening to some Marley.
Pauls Dirty Enduro 100k will be the final test of the season to see where I am before hunkering down till Pueblo.
Though there’s a few CX races I want to try this fall as well, even if to just go ride terribly, ring cowbell, and heckle my friends.