Lust

I have pretty much decided that I am replacing my faithful mtb with a new one.

leadville_race_plate1

That’s my awesome, classic Ti mountain bike. Worm and I have had so many adventures together. Heck, I went to the ER for the first time ever because of Worm. (Ok, maybe that wasn’t Worm’s fault, but I was on Worm for that.) Worm and I raced Whiteface (twice) and Leadville. Worm is a great bike.  When I was riding up Columbine one guy said “Wow a Basso MTB. I had one of those, best bike I ever owned.” Worm has a soul.

I could upgrade Worm. I found a place that will weld disc brake bosses onto the back of the frame. (He is rim brake only right now.) That would address one of Worm’s biggest problems. I could change the wheel set and put tubeless wheels on him.

In the end though, Worm is not the right bike for the kind of racing/riding I am doing. I really should be on something with a 29″ wheel. They really are better for distance/endurance racing. Worm will never take any wheel bigger than a 26″ wheel (yes I tried to get a 650b wheel into him, it won’t work. I would have done that in a heartbeat).

So I am on the hunt. My coach is a strong proponent of carbon (Felt in particular, he rides for Felt). Its light and stiff. Somehow its not me though. I am having a hard time seeing myself on a carbon mass produced bike. They lack something. They lack Worm’s soul.

I began to search the world of Ti bikes for “my” 29’er. There are a lot of frame builders out there. Custom US, generic Chinese, even some Russian frames. Moots? Holy heck, even for expensive bikes they are expensive. Chinese? I hear some good things and some bad things.

Then I stumbled onto what I hope will be my bike. Here is a picture

bikes_ElMariachiTi

That my friends is a Salsa El Mariachi Ti. Read the description. That bike has me written all over it. That bike has soul. That’s a bike you could ride in Leadville, or Whiteface……… or on the Tour Divide.

(I am trying to find a new home for Worm. New human must love him and appreciate him as much as I do.)

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I promised last week that I would have two looking forward things to say here before I was done. The first was what am I going to race next year. Today’s post is more about something I want very much to do……..

As part of the 100 Miles of Nowhere this year we received digital rights to watch Single Track High. What I didn’t say in that post was that I was really really interested in starting a local high school mtb team and be a part of NICA with it. I had to back burner that a little bit because of the whole getting ready for Leadville thing. I was too busy to start something new.

Flash forward to Leadville and Thursday night…..low and behold……Austin McInery (executive director of NICA) is putting on a showing of Single Track High for the Leadville crowd. I was reminded how much I want to do this back home. (Heck even Coreen was inspired by the movie and said I really need to do this.) The end was in sight as far as Leadville went. And so….

Part 2 of what comes next (No I am still NOT doing Leadville next year, thanks Yeti) is getting a NICA team going here in the great Potsdam Metropolitan area. I have contacted some select adults and am trying to get some of them organized so we can get some kids in the fall and move forward with that.

I’m still too busy to take another thing on. But this feels like a change year personally and professionally. I am curious to see where I am and what I am doing next year at this time.

Picture of the Day

leadville_down

“Down”

Again?

OK. So let’s get this one out of the way….

“Would you do Leadville again?”

Yes….

But…..

……..I won’t anytime soon.

Look Leadville was a lot of fun. The atmosphere at the race is cool as heck. There are people everywhere along the course. It has a great vibe. Yes, its a little more corporate now that Lifetime took it over, but it is a really fun race.

So why not do it again? Well logistically and expense wise it is too much for me to do. If I was in Colorado, or someplace close that I could drive easily to the race, I would do it again. Right now its too hard and too expensive for me to do it again.

“But, you had a great first race and could do so much better next time. You know you want to!” (Shut up Yeti!).

Here is the deal on that. I know I could do this race much faster. In fact I know I could do this race in 9.5 hours. But I do not think I could ever do this race under 9 hours.

“But…” (Shut up Yeti!)

I had hot chocolate with a friend yesterday and she asked me what’s next then. And I quickly rattled off what I was going to ride next year. She said two things…. 1. You are now officially a mountain biker eh? 2. You did not get anything out of your system this year eh? (She’s Canadian).

Here is my list for next year:

1. Wilmington Whiteface 100. I hereby declare that I am going to do this race in 5.5 hours (I am going to shave another 30 minutes off of my time). This is my “home” race. I know the course. I know how hard to go and when. I want to be top 100 in this race.

2. ORAMM (The Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell) Its a 63 mile romp in North Carolina. An easy 11,00 ft of vertical gain. My brother wanted to do this this year, but had to delay to next year. Next summer’s vacation has turned into a trip to NC for a week which will include this race.

3. I want to do one of the NUE (National Ultra Endurance Series) races. I am thinking either Wilderness 101, Hampshire 100, or the Wildcat 100. It will depend on timing for the races.

Looking at that list, it is remarkably devoid of any road events. It is also much more technical than anything I did this year. Leadville is tough because of the length and the altitude, but it is not particularly technical. ORAMM is fire road uphill and single track downhill. Both Hampshire 100 and Wilderness 101 are about 40-50% single track. All of those races will be tougher than Leadville from a bike handling standpoint.

So….yes….I am settling into the mountain bike world. I like it and long distance MTB’ing fits me well.

And…..yes……clearly I haven’t gotten anything out of my system. I expected to have a real let down after Leadville. I mean I aimed and focused myself at that for over a year. It occupied a lot of my thinking. It was a big big goal. Then it was done.

When it was over I started to think about what to do next. I didn’t really feel like I had to “top” Leadville or do something harder. I was just thinking about what to do next. I’m excited about the races next year. I will really have to put in some time on bike handling over the next year. But that growth is part of the fun.

I think that ultimately all of this is aiming/prepping me for something like Tour Divide. But that is a couple of years off.

Picture of the Day

leadville_single

“Mountain Biker”

The Big Bonk

Doug: First of all I would like to thank you all for coming to this press conference. Its amazing the level of interest my Leadville 100 race has generated. Especially considering I finished 4.5 hours after the winner! I mean I was right in the middle of the pack. OK lets open this up for questions……ok…..yes……you in the Yeti suite….

Yeti: Doug you looked fantastic going up Columbine

Doug: (interrupting) Yes, thanks! I felt great!

Yeti: (scowling) At that point you were were on pace for right at a 10.0 hour finish. You did not look fantastic at the end. Why was that?

Doug: What do you mean? I thought I was awesome at the end.

Yeti: Seriously? Do we need to recap the end of the race?

Yeti: Don’t you remember her?

peter_leadville_girl_finish

Doug: Umm. No as a matter of fact I don’t remember a lot of that. It’s all a blur.

Yeti: Irregardless

Doug: (interrupting) That’s not a word!

Yeti: (scowling) Irregardless, what happened?

Doug: I bonked.

Yeit: I am well aware of that. Why?

Doug:

OK, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Bonking here is a nice brief description:

““Bonking” is what cyclists call hypoglycemia which is the medical term for abnormally low levels of blood glucose.  You bonk when you have exhausted your glycogen stores, haven’t ingested enough carbs to produce more blood glucose, and are still riding the bike.  Anyone can bonk if they don’t eat properly on the bike.  Lance Armstrong, who probably knows as much about cycling as anyone on the planet, got wrapped up in the race on a stage in the 2000 Tour de France, forgot to eat, and bonked on the climb up the Col de Joux Plane in the French Alps.  The only reason he didn’t lose the Tour de France that day is because he had an iron will and an inhuman capacity to suffer.  Afterwards he called it the worst day on the bike he’d ever had.”

It comes from this article (worth the read, not long).

Here is what happened, I think……

Let’s assume you are in pretty good shape going into Leadville. If that is true then finishing Leadville is really two logistical problems: 1. Proper pacing and 2. Proper hydration/nutrition. I think I had the pacing nailed. I felt awesome, never really felt like I was redlining my effort. I felt in control.

My hydration/nutrition plan was to combine the two. I use two sports mixes: Infinit and CarboRocket. They both provide electrolytes and calories. Enough calories that if you drink a bottle an hour you will not need any other calories to sustain you while you are riding. There are a couple of really good reasons for going this route while racing: its easier to drink then eat and my stomach tolerated it well (sometimes solid food doesn’t work well on really long rides).

When I left Twin Lakes I was on track for the number of bottles I needed to drink. And after that, simply put, I lost track. During the ride from Twin Lakes to Pipeline I was concentrating on the ride and staying with the group I was with. I started to get behind. When I got to the Power Line climb, well, my focus shifted to getting up that beast. And while I did drink going up, I did not take in enough. I am sure I got farther behind at that point. When I did the last climb up to Carter summit I started to feel weak. I had two glasses of coke at Carter. Those staved off the bonk, but I was still behind on my calories. Finally on the Boulevard I ran out of sugar in my blood and on came the bonk.

Yeit: You were at the racer meeting the day before the race right?

Doug: Yes.

Yeti: You heard the doctor talking about the race correct?

Doug: Well…..

Yeti: Yes or no!

Doug: Yes.

Yeit: He told you ALL what to watch for in a bonk, and what to do if you were experiencing one correct?

Doug: Ummm…..

Yeti: You even laughed at his presentation! Yes or no!

Doug: Yes.

Yeti: The cure for a bonk is quick acting sugars. Like Honey Stinger Gels right?

Doug: Yes.

Yeit: You had those with you, just in case right?

Doug: Yes.

Yeti: Well Why didn’t you eat one or two of those?

Doug: Sometimes when you get into a bonk it affects how you think. Add into that over 10 hours of riding and I wasn’t thinking clearly. I could have really diminished those affects with the Honey Stinger Gels, but it never crossed my mind. All of my focus, all of what I had left, was centered on getting onto and across the red carpet.

Yeti: What are you going to do differently next time you do Leadville?

Doug: Yeti, are you related to Jenni?

leadville_jenni_yeti

Home, what now?

Yesterday we left Colorado and headed home. After the trials and tribulations that was getting TO Colorado, getting home was a total breeze. We (and all of our stuff) all made it without any delays. We didn’t even see a deer when we were driving home.

I hit my bed and I slept the best I have in….well lets see…..3 weeks :).

Hopefully your home is your favorite place, because my home is mine. Here is the view from my back porch:

home_aug_2013-1

You know what? No matter how wet Colorado has been it will never be as green as where I live. I missed my kitchen, my pots, and my cooking knives (you who cook know exactly what I mean here). I’m glad to be back.

I have a couple of things I want to write to wrap up this current phase in my life. I hope to get to them this week.

First, “Leadville: What I did wrong (or why the Big Bonk)”. I finished. I finished at my original goal time (the one I had before I got to altitude and revised it). But why didn’t I get to enjoy the last 1.5 miles?

Second, “What comes next?” This is a two parter, and in it I will answer the “Would you do it again?” question. I also will talk about what I am hoping/planning to do back here in Potsdam. I am really excited about something I want to get going here.

So today, I am riding (with oxygen) and getting myself back together.

Race Across the Sky: Afterword

You all now pretty much know now what my race was like. The climbs, the flats, the finish (not your typical finish BTW. Most people get to celebrate 😉 )

Once I started feeling better we went home so that Team Bohl could eat (I couldn’t do that) and get cleaned up (I definitely did that). Slowly we all came back down to earth and eventually we headed to bed to end what had been a long and eventful day for all of us.

Sunday was awards day. It was all about the people and their stories.

Ricky McDonald has ridden in all 20 Leadville mtb races. This year he was carrying the ashes of John Dunbar. John was the man with ALS in the 2010 Race Across the Sky video. He died a couple of weeks ago. Ricky spread the ashes on the top of the Columbine climb at the aid station.

I heard them call out Roxanne Hall’s name, and time. Right around 8:30. She too was featured in the 2010 video and had been recovering from a life threatening car accident the year before. No doubt she’s strong.

The stories went on and on.  I loved talking with other riders and families about their day. I even got to say hi to the girl in the rainbow socks.

I got my buckle…and finally my hug from Merrielle. Ken and I talked about how we met on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain.

leadville_awards

Then I was done.

I have to thank my super crew for their help. Like so many others in that race I had “the best crew ever” working to support me.

My Mom and Dad came and spent their vacation in Colorado with me this summer. They didn’t get up at 4:30 am, but they were at the finish line at 5:00 pm and they made the important calls when my head was hanging between my legs. The got to see their kid do something stupid hard and that was all the support I needed.

Jenni. You should check out her blog if you haven’t done that already. Jenni and I met 3 years ago at the LiveStrong Philly ride (there Jenni you can update your blog ;)). I made a number of good friends on that ride who I continue to value deeply. I asked Jenni if she wanted to come to CO to crew for me, and she was all in. Jenni is a great soul and in spite of her hyperness helped me stay focused.

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I mean how is it not awesome to have that smiling face crewing for you?????

Then there is my family.

leadville_bohls_after

Bailey is my 15 year old son. He is a great kid. Like me in many ways, but different enough that I don’t understand him. Thank you Bailey for spending the day helping me.

Noah is my other son 11 years old. If you rode Leadville in 2012 you may in fact know Noah. He spent the day with me at the Columbine Aid station making soup for the riders. He is a super volunteer and this year he was all mine.

And Coreen. Does that green hat look familiar? It should. Here try this one:

leadville_drained1-1

Green hat, strong arms just kind of holding me till I could gather myself a little bit.

It has been quite a year. Coreen, you gave me the opportunity to do this. You never complained when I had to go out and spend a day riding. The only time you got really mad at me was when I was late getting home from a ride and you were scared something happened. You are my world. I love you more than anything (That’s all I have to say bout that).

leadville_doug_coreen_buckle

Oh wait, there is one more thing to say about Coreen. She is signed up and training for her first half marathon in October. I cannot wait to be standing on the roadside handing her bottles and stingers!

You get a couple of “things” for finishing Leadville under 12 hours. This is my “hall”, my “booty” my “take”:

leadville_prizes

It’s probably $50 or $75 worth of stuff. Kind of ridiculous if you think about it. (The stupid belt buckles continues to cost me money, I bought a belt yesterday so that I could wear it.)

Here is the thing. It was and adventure and yeah, it was worth it.

I think that most rookies get the question “Would you do it again?” I am proud to say I did not get that question from my crew. Nope no sir. What I got, after I had showered, but while I still would have given even odds on throwing up, was this from Jenni:

“So what are you going to do differently next time?”

Jenni, if that is an indication of the “what-if’s” you didn’t say on Friday before the race to respect my calm, thank you so much for keeping yourself contained! At that moment this is what I felt like:

“There ain’t goina be no rematch.” But……

Picture of the Day

leadville_jenni_yeti

Just because you think you are hallucinating doesn’t mean you actually are….

Race Across the Sky: Part 3

Ok, let’s get to the meat of the issue. I left Twin Lakes aid station feeling good. Somehow Columbine ended up being “fun” (sorta). Now it was time to take it home. I distinctly remember feeling like I totally had this, and then telling myself to shut up, there was a lot of riding left to do. How right I was.

I was lucky in that I had another really good pace line to ride with from Twin Lakes to Pipeline Aid station. I was definitely more tired going that direction than I was going out (it is also a net up hill ride on the in direction, so is slightly tougher that way too) but we made good time and I rolled into Pipeline still over 30 minutes ahead of the cut-off times I had written on my bike. I was on pace for a solid 10 hour finish.

At Pipeline Jenni and Bailey gave me my last bottles. Jenni looked at me and told me all I had left was a ride of a length I would normally do on any given day (about 23 miles). Ummm, Jenni, FYI, that’s a “yes but” if there ever was one :). Off I went. On the pavement leading to Powerline I never really got into a good group. I rode about half of it with two other guys but they were going too fast and I did not want to expend so much energy so I backed off and got myself to Powerline at my own pace.

Powerline. OK what can I say here? It was everything, and more, that it is hyped up to be.

leadville_powerline_bottom-1

You start by going (and by that I really mean walking) your bike up a 24(ish)% grade section. The course was lined by people who were shouting things like “you look great”. And I will admit there was a certain amount of malice in my heart towards those people at that point (sorry if any of you were there shouting encouraging words, I was starting to go to my dark place). Sometimes you want to suffer, alone, in silence. Sometimes “you look great” doesn’t match with how you feel.

That section wouldn’t have been so bad except that it was followed by three other sections that were just about as bad. Not as steep by rocky and loose. To ride those sections took extra energy because of the surface. It felt like every time I got to the top of one of those sections and rounded a corner I could see another section with people struggling up. It hurt mentally and physically like nothing I had every felt before.

“Pain is just nerve endings telling your brain your body is doing something stupid.” Elden “Fatty” Nelson

Thing #5: I rode when I could, I walked when I had too, but I never stopped going forward.

I looked at my gps and realized I had enough time to walk this entire climb and still be OK for a pretty good finish. I stayed positive and kept moving forward. This was the first time people passed me on a climb, but I remained in my own race and didn’t worry.

On the back side I bombed down Sugarloaf and onto the pavement. One more big climb: paved up to Carter Aid station. Here again I stayed positive. I put my bike in a gear I could spin and spun. Every time I felt like I was getting to the bottom of what I had, I told myself to go deeper and did that. I promised myself water and a coke at Carter Aid station.

Carter was the only neutral aid I took during the race. I rolled in and the volunteer had both a coke and water. He asked what I wanted.

“Both.”

“OK. Water first then coke. You are on pace for a 10:20 finish”

Both were fantastic.

Fatty had warned me that after Carter there was more climbing before you descended St. Kevans. Here I will take exception to how Fatty described this part. He said it was “a little climbing” and that it “wasn’t bad”. It felt like more than a little and it had 3 or so 15% short kickers. It hurt. It hurt everyone around me. I could hear the comments form others. But it finally ended and I got to go down the backside of St. Kevans.

Now I was in the home stretch. I rode the bottom of St. Kevans to the finish line nearly every day I was in Leadville. I knew that initially it was a descent, then it would turn up hill and over the last 3 miles climb 300 ft back to the finish. In that 300 ft there is an initial section of the Boulevard that is pretty steep and loose. Its about 1/4 mile long. I rode up the initial part and then decided that I need to walk some. I felt totally exhausted. Still I kept moving forward.

On the more gentle section of the Boulevard a guy caught me and started to pass me.

“Michigan State right?” (I had worn my MSU jersey while training in Leadville).

“Yes”

“Is this you first time?”

“Yes” (that was about the extent of what I could vocalize).

“Congrats. You have put up a great finish time.”

It was right around this time when I lost pretty much all the strength in my arms. I knew that I was in serious trouble. And I was not amused that this guy was congratulating me 1.5 miles short of the finish line. I knew this was going to be my struggle in the race. I knew it in the bottom of my heart. (Again I apologize, the words were said with friendship, but I was so deep into it, and I was in so much trouble at that point.)

The dirt road eventually ends up at the paved road that you took out of town. The finish was about 1 mile away. There was a 200 yard 6% grade climb between me and the finish line.

I do not want to sound mellow dramatic here but I was pretty much done. I was experiencing the worst bonk of my biking life 1 mile from the finish.

“The good lord gave you a body that withstand most anything. It’s the mind you have to convince.” Vince Lombardi

I stopped and unclipped from my bike. There were people sitting there cheering for the riders. They looked at me and knew I was in serious trouble.

“Do you need anything?”

I couldn’t answer.

“Do you need water? Skratch???”

I took a couple of deep breaths. Then I took a couple of big drinks. Then I clipped back in and went up towards the finish line. It was the only time during the race that I had to stop to collect myself.

Thing #6:  I found that little bit you have when everything else is gone

Grannie gear up the 6% grade. Peter Coffin (my former student) was on the pavement taking pictures. He got one of me

peter_leadville_finish_doug

Well actually Peter got two of me at the finish. I like this one the best. The guy in the black sweatshirt with his arm in a sling is Doc, a regular at Leadville. He was injured and didn’t ride. I met him while training. I saw him at different several places during the race cheering people on. I don’t remember seeing Doc here.

Here is a close up of me

peter_leadville_finish_doug2

And just for comparison, is a picture of the girl with the rainbow socks I saw back and forth all day

peter_leadville_girl_finish

Clearly she was in better shape at that point than I was. (Author’s note: she ended up about 8 minutes ahead of me. I do not remember when she passed me the final time.)

I saw the red carpet and spun my grannie gear up the final 1% grade to the finish line. I rode on the red carpet across the finish line. Done. 10:30:05.67

Well not really. I tried to unclip, failed, and met the pavement hard. I started to sit up and felt two arms come and grab me.

A voice said “You know, for an engineer you really should figure out how to fall better.”

The voice was familiar. Flash back to June when I did the Wilmington Qualifier. My brother, father son and I volunteered to help set-up the race. We worked with a Lifetime employee named Curtis. Curtis is a science teaching in Houston during the winter and works with Lifetime on the races during the summer.

“Curtis!”

“I got you, don’t worry about your bike, someone else has it”, Curtis said.

He helped me to the exit of the finish line. It was not the way I wanted to finish Leadville, but I am thankful there was a friendly, cheerful person there to help.

Here you go. Jenni got my finish on video..

I started looking for Coreen because I knew that she saw what had happened and would be concerned. Curtis turned me over to her at the exit.

“What do you need?”

“Chocolate milk, sugar, something.”

She gave me a granola bar. Bailey went and bought me chocolate milk. I was totally spent. I had nothing left in the tank.

Picture of the day:

leadville_drained1-1

I call this one “Done”. Courtesy of Jenni.