You know, I sat down to write this up and I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Yeah there was a lot of the typical stuff you see in a ride report. “I didn’t sleep well. I pooped a couple of times before the race. The start was a mass piece of choas where the goal was to stay upright on the bike. It hurt a lot.” While true, that all seems pretty typical and boring. (Banana bread with Nutella, Hot Chocolate, oat meal, BTW.) Where did the drama really start?
It really started with me feeling very slow with dead legs on the very very fast 5 miles descent on paved roads to the first climb. By that I mean right from when the gun went off. I felt like I was being passed by a lot of riders and not passing as many as I remembered from last year. Then I settled in, and thought, “this is NOT yet the race, you know that, keep it positive”.
We hit the first climb and the race really began.
And I started to feel good. I began to pass people. Yup I was passed. The people who passed me motored passed me. They were so much faster it wasn’t even close. But I motored passed other people too. I got to the top and bombed the back side.
Then I got to the second climb and powered up that. Somewhere on that climb I caught and dropped my brother. It was the same thing, some very fast people passed me, but I passed a lot of other people. I never felt that strong on that climb. And then before I knew it I was at the aid station, 10 minutes ahead of my split time from last year.
I have an awesome regular crew. Bailey my oldest son, Coreen my wife, and Noah my super 11 year old crew member. You might remember Noah from our day at Columbine Mine in Leadville last year. This year they were joined by my brother’s family and my mom and dad.
A fast bottle change and I was off.
More climbing and still feeling good.
The next segment is where I really lost it last year. The mistakes I made with my nutrition and hydration killed me. A long descent followed by a single track section (with a lot of climbing in it) followed by a climb up what was just prior a long descent. But I felt good and kept going.
The funny episode of the day happened on this segment, slowly. On the descent I was swapping a bottle in my cage and dropped a full bottle. Then I started doing some math as too how many I would need to get back to the crew station. Did I really need the bottle? Was I going to have to stop at the aid station to get water (I didn’t want to). I decided I had enough liquid and emergency calories with me to get by and didn’t stop. On the way back up I saw my bottle and stopped to pick it up. The guy next too me asked if it was mine. “Yeah, dropped it on the way down. It’s full and I need it.” “Right on Brother!” (I love mountain bikers).
The annoying episode of the day happened in this section as well. As I left the single track section my brother caught me from behind. He’s faster on the single track, and so he made up time.
Up again. 8.8 miles of up and again I felt strong. I dropped my brother (Again. This time however it was for the rest of the race. Cannot be beat by the little brother 🙂 ) and passed a bunch of people. Got passed by one guy who was going FAST (he had to have had a mechanical, because he was WAY faster than the people around me). And before I knew it I was at the crew station for a second time, 30 minutes ahead of my split from last year.
Two bottles, a quick coke and I was gone.
One more serious climb, some flowy single track, some road, some muddy single track and 25 miles later I was in a familiar spot, walking a familiar kicker hill into a parking lot at the base of Whiteface.
Back at Whiteface, 40 minutes ahead of my pace from last year.
They changed the Whiteface section (i.e. the last 3 miles of the race) this year. Last year it was 45 minutes of hike-a-bike up the ski slopes followed by a very fast very technical descent into a very technical single track section. It was my dark place last year. This year the climb on the mountain was smaller but we had to do two laps to make up the elevation gain.
My dark place come this year again with the finish in sight. I got up and down the climb fine and descended into the single track. This single track is made up small steep hills with what are essentially root steps. I missed a line by just a little bit, hooked my handlebar on a tree and ran myself into a tree, stopping my forward motion with my rib cage. I heard a voice behind me: “Are you alright brother?” (it was not my bio, it was a mtb brother). I took a deep breath and there was no pain. I figured I was OK. “Yup.” Back up and riding.
I made my second lap without incident. I was cautious on the single track and walked a fair bit of it. (I did not want to screw up at this point.) And then I crossed the finish line.
6:01:09. That’s over an hour faster than last year. (I’m a little bummed about not getting in under 6 hours, it more a point of pride than anything. But I figure not running into a tree will fix that one.)
My brother crossed the line 15 minutes later.
He had an adventure himself. Broken chain on some single track coming back to home. Good thing he picked up that master link eh? Dave did well. It was his first long, high elevation gain race. Pretty sure he liked it too.
So some final thoughts.
I’m sore. I won’t even lie about that. I don’t think I broke anything rib wise, but they are definitely on the bruised side of things. They are better today (2 days out) and I do not expect any long term issues from them. Knee’s fine. No issues there.
I totally love doing MTB races like this. The people who race them are awesome. I had so many quick talks, contacts etc. with people. One woman I biked with for a while said “Hey we rode together last year for a while too”. The people in the story above really did address me as “brother” and they meant it, its just like that. The Dave I met (not my biological brother) is going to be in Leadville this year. His friend Curtis was trying to get in. Hope you made it Curtis!
I felt really good on this ride, better than I ever have before. I uploaded my ride to STRAVA and this is what I saw:
That’s a whole lot of PB’s. In fact, every segment was a PB. I am not sure why STRAVA didn’t have PB next to all of them, but I checked they were all fastest ever. I think the combination of the training and being lighter really helped on the climbs. I was able to get into a nice gear, with a nice cadence and just settle into them. I felt more relaxed on the descents, and except for hitting the tree felt good on the single track.
I love my family dearly. They are the best crew every. Lifetime folks, you cannot have Noah this year, he is mine!
Leadville is just over 7 weeks away (holy sh!t).