Tuesday, January 31, 2012
For the last two years I watched riders cross Elephant Lake to reach the halfway point of the Arrowhead Ultra 135 mile winter race. I watched in jealousy as bouts of asthma had me watching from the sidelines, so as I turned my phenomenal 907 bike to go onto Elephant Lake this year I gave no prior thought when I yelled "F*&^ Yeah!" doing my best Jersey Shore fist pump. I was high on life at that point because reaching this point was my sign that this was the year. (Unlike 2010 and 2011)
(picture from a previous year)
Our 7am start was off to a blazing start as Jay Petervary took off like a scared rabbit with 2 or 3 riders in tow. A large second group formed and a hard pace was set. I took note that my body did not feel up for the challenge quite yet, but lungs were better than the past 2 years. Doom, Dittmer, and Jensen seemed to push it the hardest in the group. A soft section would ramp up the breathing, so back I dropped to get control. Farrow would fall back as well. Soon I was going good again into the 1st check point. I was surprised to see the group I was with but also Group Petervary returning from the out and back. Three and a half hours in, 100 miles left.
(The start thanks to Allison Long)
On I went, picking up Josh "I never met a Bette Midler song I didn't like" Peterson. As the trail become hillier I would see three more riders not far up. I thought about working hard to chase'm down, but the lungs would flare up every now and then, causing me to slow way down or completely stop. Eventually I would catch Francis Lambert, passing him before the 1/2 way point; reaching the cabin in 7th place. The cabin would hold a departing Dittmer, a dejected Jensen (mechanical), and Doom. I was in and out in 7 minutes having filled the camelback, drank a glass of pop, and downed some bean soup. Doom and I would depart together, Lambert soon after I guess. Eight hours in, 65 miles left.
There are some good sized hills soon after that 2nd checkpoint, Doom and I would talk some and yo-yo some. It was when my lungs went nuts and I completely stopped that he left me for good. Lambert would soon pass as well for the same reason. After a flat section of trail we came to the nasty stuff just as the sun went down for the night. I heard stories, but until you are out there trying to push nearly 50 pounds of bike/gear up crazy steep hills over and over again for hours in soft snow you cannot appreciate the effort. On these hike-a-bike sections again my breathing went absolutely crazy. I had a hard time with every aspect of this part of the course and expected 8th place to roll up on me. Almost 6 hours later I found the Teepee that marked the last checkpoint. A quick downing of a bunch of cocoa/cappachino mix from Whizanator and friends and I was off like a rocket. Fourteen hours in, 24 miles left.
The majority of the last section of the course is fairly flat and I was going great, lungs and all. I heard that Lambert was 15 minutes up on me at the Tee Pee and it was not long before I would surprisingly see his blinky light. I continued my strong pace and opened up a gap. My lead over Lambert was several minutes when the lungs decided to mess with me one last time. I would stop briefly twice, get going, and still had a gap. Then I got dizzy, weak, and needed to stop. Lambert checked on me as I stood there dizzy, but I just needed to work it out. He continued at my insistence, stopped a 1/4 mile later to look back and make sure I was still upright and rode on. He let me know we had 2 1/2 miles left at that point.
I would finish 10 minutes behind Lambert for 7th place (just shy of 17.5 hours) after being 5 minutes up with 2 1/2 miles left. Because of just one of my many flare ups out there I lost at least 15 minutes, so yeah, to only be 92 minutes behind the leaders has me happy not just with finishing, but with how well I did, and I FINALLY FREAKING FINISHED ARROWHEAD!! F(&^ YEAH!!!!!!
-The bike was awesome and awe inspiring.
-I firmly believe that I was able to minimize and control my flare ups because of the Cold Avenger that covered my face the entire time I wasn't shoving food down the gullet. THANK YOU GUYS!!
-I saw a ton of wolf tracks in the inch or so of snow the area received the night before.
-J-No's race ended early, I'll let him explain, but it involved a horse, motor oil, and a human sized doll of the Cat in the Hat.
-I have already been planning for next year to make me faster. I am hoping to maximize my strengths and minimize the weaknesses.
-I learned a few lessons about gear set up, nothing that cost time, but my many skin abrasions will stick with me for a few days.
-The little snow up there made for a much less spectacular looking race, oh, and much bumpier course.
-There is nothing not to like about this event. Hard course, great organization/volunteers/fellow racers/course markings/etc.
-You can make a drinking game out of this blog post. Reread it, and everytime I mention my lungs or breathing take a drink. Seriously though, I focused more on my ability to breath more than following the right line, my competition, the cold (or lack of), the pain in my body, or even the sleet hitting me at the end.
Friday, January 27, 2012
It wasn't until after I won the Tuscobia 150 that I thought about my history in endurance races. I tallied up in my head how many endurance races I have won; 12 I think. Those include races in 12 hour, 24 hour, 100 mile mountain, 100 mile gravel, 75 mile snow, and now 150 mile snow formats.
I don't know how I will do up at Arrowhead. I don't know if I will finish. I don't know if I will be able to breath well (the air is a lot drier up there). What I do know is that if all my systems are going strong I intend to make someone else winning as hard as possible (of course with the idea of finishing first and formost). I can also tell you that winning this race would mean far more to me than any race I have done well in.
So if you would like to see how the race is shaking out on Monday the powers that be will update either here, here, or here.
In the mean time I will be posting some short posts until race day with pictures. Wish me good luck or bad luck, but that is what fills much of my mind right now.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I figure I have been first to drop out at the checkpoint #1 the last 2 years. Is he just confused?
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The wind was chilly, but I ended thinking a little less on the head would have been nice.
Monday, January 16, 2012
First off, construction is top notch. I was shocked with with how many different materials are used to make the best possible bag. Not only does it look like it will last a lifetime, but it is really light and purposeful. The amount of space you can hold is adjustable, and there is a strap internally to help separate and hold gear in. The design of the bag assures that your gear will stay nice and dry. Originally, my intention for this bag is bike camping, mostly winter camping (assuming we get more snow). I will not need the space of this bag for my Arrowhead attempt, but if I did, I would be in good hands.
This bag can hold a ton of stuff. Now that I fully see and appreciate how much, the bag will take on double duty. My parents live 5 miles away, and sometimes I drop the newborn off to hang out with the G-parents. Well, I can now make that commute easier with this bag. Big enough for Seely, but some of her diapers and a change of clothes as well! This bag will get put through it's paces for sure.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Highlights included seeing Barry Wicks duck into the porto john for his prerace "weight loss" and abusing my child (see pic).
My cold is wrapping up. Looking to tie up my fitness in a nice bow for January 30th's assault on the Arrowhead trail. Just need more snow up there and some down here. It seems silly to ride a fully loaded snow bike with 29'er wheels on gravel.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
2011 Trek Superfly 100 Elite w/ Sram XX and custom carbon wheels!!
This is actually better specced then the 2012 Superfly 100 Pro that retails at $7,350. The bike saw little use this year as my racing season basically ended at the end of May. There is a ding in the paint on the top tube, a scratch on the handlebar (clear coat), and some scratches on the cranks from my shoes. This is a fantastic bike and I am anxious to ride the 2012 model this coming summer (little has changed on the new model).
OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame & swingarm, Carbon Armor, ABP , Flow Mold Carbon swing link, G2 Geometry, E2 tapered head tube, replaceable derailleur hanger, 110mm travel
RockShox SID XX 29 w/Dual Air spring, remote lockout, rebound, E2 tapered steerer, 9mm QR, 100mm travel
Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock
Brand New Bontrager 29-1 Team, 29x1.9"
SRAM XX, 10 speed
SRAM X0, direct mount
SRAM XX, 39/26
SRAM XX 11-36, 10 speed
Bontrager Affinity 3, chromoly rails
Truvativ Noir Carbon, 31.6mm, 20mm offset
Truvativ Carbon Noir T30, 700mm width
Truvativ Stylo T40, 31.8mm
Avid XX hydraulic disc brakes
ESI Chunky Silicone
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
New Year's Day
New Year's Day sees a lot of group rides. Many are like the one here in town; a group meets, rides the same amount of miles on pavement as the temp is outside, and then huddles in a coffee shop congratulating themselves on a job well done. The first day of the new year and I was sick with a nasty cold. Lots of snow tempted me as we had decided to spend our time up in Cable, WI at the cabin. Several inches dropped while the year clicked over and I thought my sickness was clearing up, so off I went into the sunset.
During my 3 hour ride I went rather slowly as I was not 100% and the trails were chewed up from fresh snow and fresh tracks. However, I did cross off something on my to do list; crossing Lake Namekagon in the winter. It is an odd feeling when the temps are in the teens, your riding over a wide open frozen lake, it is night, there are sleds going by in large groups, and a nasty cross and then head wind is causing lots of drifting snow.
Halfway through and my cold was getting the best of me plus I was on a 5 mile section of trail that was especially chewed up, but I managed to finish my intended loop with just a small section cut out to save time. I figured the temp when I left was about 20 degrees, and my mileage was 20, so hey-0! It may have not been the same type of ride many New Year's rides that day were, but I did the same mileage. Bad thing? My cold retaliated with a vengeance (or revengeance?). I am trying to get back to health now, slowly.
With this cold and my desire to get in lots of hours on the bike I may be skipping my intentions to race the Triple D in Iowa (plus with no snow what is the fun?). Next week hopefully will be fulled with lots of long rides. A few 4 hour rides are going to do me better than worrying about racing well in Iowa.
I am reading about others planning on summer races. Weird. Brendan Moore (the Bad Boy of MN mountain biking) is saying he is scaling back next year. He is debating 2 "teams". The rumor is one involves him racing sport for the Peace Coffee team, the other is he'll ride a steel single speed while sporting a cutoff denim jacket covered in PBR patches.
My Superfly 100 with Sram XX and carbon wheels is going up for sale, interested?
I had a talk with the Dave "the legend" Pramann. Sounds like Arrowhead may be heavily populated with strong riders. I guess we'll see how that shakes out.
I am sick of coughing and using up Kleenex after Kleenex.