Monday, August 20, 2007

Fools Gold

The 50 mile mountain bike race didn't go as planned. More lessons learned, more questions uncovered.

Up at 4:00 am, Matthew and I got to the start in Dahlonega at 6:00, start time at 7:00 with about 90 people. Started stronger and harder than I should have. The first section is a 12 mile climb on fire road, we let 2/3 of the group go ahead up the climb and didn't chase anyone down or pick up the pace. I thought we were being reserved and was proud of myself for restraining... but, the heart rate was much higher than it should have been for this kind of event (mid 170's should have been mid 150's). I was over excited and overconfident since I had ridden 30 miles of this course about 3 weeks earlier at just under this pace. Plus, I could go harder since I was doing the shorter distance right? I was eating cliff blocks mostly and a gel shot. This was because they were easy to get to and eat while climbing.

Quickly through the first sag at 10 miles to a 2 mile downhill. Matthew took off, I went at my own pace, no need to save a few seconds for a dumb mistake and I had to change my breaking because of my finger. Back together through the rolling single track sections but went way to hard. Not sure why we picked up the pace so much. Maybe because we had caught up with a few racers here and it was the first single track section or we were used to the downhill speed and a normal pace felt slow. We got the 2nd sag at 17 miles about 2 hours into the ride around 9:00 am. Once we stopped I realized... I was blown... rTard. Why can't I stick to a game plan? It was still early for me to be so tired though even at that rate. My only thought is that I still hadn't recovered from hurting myself at the Covington ride and that I typically don't do well when going straight into a hard effort without a warm-up. To add to my problems, the lesson not learned from my last event, Cliff Blocks destroy my stomach. It just turned on me. Hard to get real food down but did my best at this stop (knowing I wasn't getting enough calories).

Time to move on, only 1/2 mile up the trail I was weak, tired, pissed off, my hr was peaking no matter what I did and let Matt go ahead along with a few other riders we were with. I stopped for a few minutes to get my heart rate down and reset myself mentally. I turtle crawled for a while but got the pace back up and made it through the 11 mile loop slower than I wanted. I layed the bike down in this section just before a creek crossing. I was too busy looking up the trail and hit some loose dirt, the one and only time it happend. I didn't eat anything during this part of the ride, just lots of water and performance drink. Back at sag 3 (at the same location as 2) now at 27 miles. Matthew was there; he had changed a flat tire and was sensibly refueling. He took off and I made a best effort to get more liquid and food (unsuccessful on the food part). Riders were coming through and leaving as I choked down parts of a powerbar, crackers and some fruit. I had finished my mixed drink and they had some Rapid Refuel stuff, grabbed a bottle and left - gross, tasted terrible. It fell of the bike somewhere on the ride anyway.

The next sag was 18 miles away through mostly single track, no long climbs but lots of up and down. I put on the headphones. I felt good for the next 8 miles passing a few riders and getting into a nice rhythm. At around 35 miles, my body shut down. Not unexpected but I was holding on as long as I could to finish the ride. On a road ride, you can coast, draft off of people coming by and still make some forward progress. Not the case on a mountain bike ride. Every inch is earned. I stopped in the middle of a climb and sat down (now for the second time). I realized I was kind of done for the day... way back in the woods in the middle of now where. I tried to rest and regroup while 3 riders came by (all looking rather ragged but working on forward progress). I picked myself up and continued on until around mile 40. I had gotten to another stream crossing, cold water coming down from the mountains. I stopped and literally sad down in the stream. My socks were already wet, I was drenched in sweat and it didn't really matter about my time anymore. It dropped my core body temperate down and gave me a little wake up. Again, a few riders passed by, probably thinking I've lost it. I felt much better and was ready to move on. I needed fuel so one gel... and it came right back up. Not a good sign. Water still goes down, let's move on. Slowly. Great, now I'm out of water.

Arrived at sag 4, 42 miles in at somewhere around 2:00 pm. Mentally checked out. I got more water and a few grapes (about the only thing I could eat). Only 8 miles to the end but lots of climbing. That translates to 1.5 hours of good climbing effort to the end. I didn't have it. I had pushed myself for 5 hours AFTER my body said, you've had enough. I knew there was a shortcut to the end only 2.5 miles up the road.

I cut the ride short and crossed the finish line at 45 miles. Needless to say, my body disintegrated over the rest of the day. Matthew finished the ride a little while later. Great ride for him and on his 32nd birthday! Said it was the hardest thing he had ever done to date.

Ride time 5 Hours 23 minutes - event time 7 Hours 40 minutes, avg hr 159 (rTarded), 6400 feet of climbing, 7240 calories burned, avg speed 8 mph. 12 pounds lost. Looking at the stats, I'm surprised I was able to keep that speed for the event.

I think in the long run I'll learn a lot from this event. I need to work on my fueling plans, finding and sticking to a target hr for longer events based on training, since about mid summer my training hasn't been to my benefit for events but more enjoyment on the group rides. I need to find a balance between what will make me stronger and what will damage my efforts. I also need to learn the art of recovery.

Sorry, not much of a race report and I still have mixed emotions of the event. I wasn't sure what to write but this is what came out.


  1. Geesh. Glad you survived. Sounds brutal. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger I suppose BUT are we having FUN enough fun lately?! Isn't that why we're supposed to be doing this crap! Not to mention the heat sucks, literally!

  2. Geesh. Glad you survived. Sounds brutal. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger I suppose BUT are we having FUN enough fun lately?! Isn't that why we're supposed to be doing this crap! Not to mention the heat sucks, literally!

  3. Hey, I think it's a great race report. Plenty of technical stuff that you can refer back to next year. And plenty of mental stuff to be valuable all year. Cliff Blocks... haha... nice. I do that when I buy a bunch of something that doesn't work for an event... I have a ton left so I use them and make the same mistake until they're gone. Maybe we need (wait, that doesn't sound SFW). Like you said, you learned a lot. I think all of us need to look at our macro season plans and see what happened this year. You've done a ton more riding than Matthew (shouts, Matthew man! nice ride!) so I have to believe that it's built-up fatigue. Dana's feeling burned out. I'm getting crushed on what are normally easy rides. I did find it interesting to hear that in mountain biking you can't coast. Makes sense but I've never done a long enough endurance ride to sense that. I bet it's miserable when you explode. Get some recovery... it's time to explode again soon!

  4. Sorry to hear that things didn't go as you expected. I know that's tough. Better luck next year!