I competed as a solo rider in the Uno Mas Por Favor 6 hour mountain bike race at Clearbay (Thunderbird) today. It was my 3rd mountain bike race. Here is a rundown of the first two:
Mountains of Mayhem - With about 2 miles to go I was fighting for 3rd place with one other rider. We had a big gap on 4th and the top 2 guys were gone. We missed a turn and added miles onto the course. We ended up about 50th or 60th.
Syllamo 125k - I felt great on the first climb. I hit the single track in the top 5 (this was a big pro race so I was happy with that) and then I slid out on a wet rock and broke my hydraulic brake line about 3 miles into a 76 mile event. Not good. I finished hours behind the winner.
That brings us to today. It was a really well put on race, and some people traveled from out of town, but I pretty much knew the top guys and was really amped about racing them. It was a le mans style start (everyone has to run to their bike). I expected about a 50 yard dash, but it was more like 500 yards. I didn't want to go out too hard (6 hours is a long time) and didn't get the greatest position into the single track. We were going pretty fast, so it wasn't too bad; but I knew that the leaders were putting time on me (and Brandon, who was right behind me.
I finally moved into 3rd place and sat there for the rest of the first lap. I moved into 2nd starting the second lap, and eventually caught the leader on the third or fourth. I sat on him for about a quarter lap and then my mountain bike racing luck hit.
I burped my tire on a root around a corner. I pulled over and got my mini pump out. I had taped the head so that it wouldn't rattle, and I really didn't expect to need it. I put new stans (liquid latex) in last night. I run UST (tubeless) rims and TNT (tubes-no-tubes) tires, so they are usually pretty reliable. It took longer than I expected to get the tape off my pump, and by the time I started pumping I had already lost a couple spots. I got it back up to my desired pressure, but what I should have done is kept going until the bead re-seated. After 5 minutes of work I was back on my bike, but 30 seconds later it was low again. I stopped and put a tube in it. When your heart rate is up and you are trying to hurry, you inevitably take way longer to change a flat. Plus I had on gloves at first...two pair. Then I broke my tire lever. Then I got latex all over my hands so I couldn't get a good grip on the tire to get it back on the rim. It took nearly 11 minutes to get going again. (I had the video camera going, which is how I knew how long it took.
I thought about quitting. It is hard to get motivated when you were do happy with how you were riding, and then you have a setback that puts you 16 minutes back.
6 hours is a long race, so I thought I might be able to at least make it back into the money spots. I had been doing a good job on my nutrition plan, so I figured I could ride the entire 6 hours pretty hard, where others would start to fall off. I was doing a pop tart (yes...a yummy poptart) every lap. That is 200 calories every 36-40 minutes. I was doing a bottle of EFS sport drink every 2 hours. I'll go more into my race nutrition plans in a future blog post since this one is already getting long.
For this race, you go as far as you can in 6 hours. If you finish a lap at 5:59, you can finish another lap. I saw that each lap was taking just under 40 minutes, and with 120 minutes left I realized that I would probably finish 9 laps in just under 6 hours, which meant I'd have to do a tenth lap. I wasn't very excited about that thought.
With 80 minutes left I found out that 2nd place was just in front of me. I couldn't believe it. It turns out that two guys had dropped out, so that moved me up further than I thought I was. It was tough to pace myself with this news, but that is what you have to do. Nearly 5 hours into a race, if you go anaerobic you may not recover. I knew I was riding faster than he was because I took a split the lap before at Huffy Hill and he was about 4 minutes up. I kept my pace, caught him, and passed him. When I finished my 9th lap there was 3 minutes left. I figured I had about 2:30 on him. I couldn't stop yet. The 10th lap sucked, especially since I figured first place was still about 16 minutes up on me. My body and mind were both finished.
It's hard to say what would have happened if I didn't flat. It probably would have been a good battle between Brandon and I for the win. He is the better mountain bike rider, so if he wanted to drop me in the technical sections I'm 99% sure he could have. But....he was on his single speed, so he would have had a tough time the last half mile on the double track. I still think he would have taken it though.
The interesting thing is that we both got in 85 miles on the road yesterday. So, 85 HARD miles yesterday on the road and 70 miles with about 7000 feet of climbing today. It was a pretty fantastic end to this training block.
I got some good video from my gopro today, but I don't have time to edit it down and upload it tonight. Hopefully I can turn the 6 hour race into something about 6 minutes long.