Monday, September 22, 2008

EX2 Adventures Day of Endurance MTB Race

EX2 Adventures created a new race for this year, a 12 hour duathlon, which featured a 6 hour MTB race followed by 6 hours of trail running at Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, Maryland. I hoped to convince a friend or two to do the relay with me, but being unsuccessful convincing anyone, ended up signing up to do the MTB solo. I decided to bring the wife and kids and make a weekend out of it at the beautiful lodge at Rocky Gap. The area is appropriately named because there were many loose rocks, particularly on the fire road trails up behind the campground which formed a major portion of the MTB course.

The race was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on 9/20 with a Lemans-style start, meaning we were to run about a quarter-mile to the transition area to get to our bikes. BTW, the weather is much different out in the mountains than in Calvert County. The temperature was dropping into the forties overnight and the projected temp. at start time was 52 degrees. Since I hate to be cold, I tend to over dress and so I was as my friend Doug Pepelko pointed out as he surprised me while I waited for the start. So as we stood waiting to start I removed my vest and carried it during the run and tossed it into my "pit" area which was located not too far past the start line. (I commandeered a picnic table down along the lake front)

The first lap went great. It was sort of crowded but there were not too many technical challenges along the lakeside trail until the trail hit the campground and climbed up into the hillside beyond the campground. The trail here was rocky fire road that in some places had a preferred line but in a lot of places there was no line because of the loose rocks. There was an awful amount of climbing and once you reached the top the was a long, killer, rocky descent back down to the campground and then back to the lakeside trail. I finished the first lap in 55 minutes and change and was in fifteenth place. After walking through the transition area I got back on my bike, not stopping at my pit area. However, I was having trouble clipping-in to my left pedal. After I fussed with it for about a half-mile I decided to stop and see what was the problem. When I brought up my shoe there was no cleat, it was stuck in the pedal and one of the screws was missing. I guess the rocky descents caused the screws to vibrate loose? Anyway, I decided to suck it up and ride without the cleat because I did not know how much time I would lose if I turned around and went back for repairs.

Lap two was not so good. After learning about my missing cleat and deciding to forge ahead when I got to the climb near the campground my lower back began to spasm. The harder I pedalled the worse it got until I thought I would have to quit. I stopped briefly next to a tree and the spasm went away but as soon as I started pedalling the pain returned. Of course this was on one of the steeper climbs and I stopped again to relieve the pain. I then tried to relax the muscles in the back and bent over further and that did the trick. I had stopped on the very left side of the trail leaving the entire fire road open for everyone else. Just when the pain subsided and I started walking one of the Quantico Marine riders came up the trail and barked at me to get out of his way. I said, "Buddy, you have the whole fire road to get by me" to which he replied " Yeah, but the preferred line is over here and you shouldn't be standing in it." This happens to be one of my pet peeves since I have fallen quite a few times trying to ride by folks who are walking up the center of the trail. Then sure enough, as I was trying to ride up the next climb a guy was walking up the center of the trail and I tried to zigzag around him and ended up falling right on his heels. He apologized but I was not upset because I hadn't been able to ride up that climb anyway. So I continued sans left cleat and with a tight back to finish the second lap in 58 minutes and some change. I chose not to stop again and rode on to lap three. I believe the results said I was in twentieth place after two laps.

Laps three and four were relatively uneventful. I finished both in 58 minutes and some change and used the relax technique when my back tightened. I was in nineteenth place after the third lap and seventeenth place after lap four. After the fourth lap I decided to stop and take a break in my pit. I removed my knee warmers and my headband at this time while I ate a clif bar and downed a Monster Energy drink. I believe I took around a three minute break and then headed out for lap five.

Lap five was good. I don't know if it was the energy drink or the bar or the couple of minutes rest or if I was completely numb, but I felt good and the back pain went away. I ended up finishing the lap in a time of 1:03 and some change but I knew three minutes were spent in the pit so it took me around an hour. I also knew that I was tracking pretty close to the cut off time meaning that if I got back before 5 hours and 55 minutes had elapsed I would be allowed to start another lap. This was something I decided I did not want to do. Six laps was going to be my limit. Initially I had thought I might be able to do seven laps but I was happy with six. So I decided, to be on the safe side, that I would stop and take another rest after the fifth lap. When I came around to my pit, much to my chagrin, my picnic table was loaded with people. I was in no mood to be social at this point so I just kept riding and decided to just take it easy instead of resting. I found out that I was in fifteenth place after five laps.

Lap six was OK except for the one major leg cramp. I started out riding really easy. There seemed to be no one around so I was just rolling along in no hurry. About a quarter of the way through the lap I moved aside to let someone by me. That person was from a different category so I was OK with it. But another person was just behind him and as I let him by me I noticed he was in my race so after he passed me I sped up to keep him in my sights. I expected that I could catch and pass him on the climb so I wasn't too worried. Sure enough, I caught him on the steep little dirt climb before the campground and then passed him as we entered the campground. I looked up and there was another rider just ahead and, sure enough, he was also in my race so I passed him. Then heading up the road climb in the campground there was another racer from my race and I passed him (he was walking so he may have had cramps). I motored up the climb until the steep rocky part that I had walked up every time and then walked up as I had done before. After remounting I rode the "fast" part and then hit a steep little rocky climb for which I decided to get out of the saddle. Big mistake!! My right thigh cramped hard. I hopped off the bike and started walking with the thigh still cramping. By the time I got to the top of that little climb the cramp had passed and I remounted. I was able to ride the rest of the way to the top even getting out of the saddle once (without thinking). Checking my watch I knew I was going to be close to the cut off time so I actually slowed a bit. As I came around and saw the finishing chute, the guys yelled "forty-five seconds". It was thirty seconds as I dismounted and started walking. There was no one coming behind me so I slowly walked to the finish and logged in just after the cut off time. I ended up doing the sixth lap in one hour and finished twelfth.

After the race I went to the Positively Chiropractic tent to get a post-race massage and adjustment given my back spasms. I then went back to the lodge for a shower. When I got in a sharp pain hit me when the water hit my arse. Sure enough, I had a saddle-sized, saddle-shaped, saddle sore that was open. I wish I would have remembered to use my body glide before the race.

Overall, I was really happy with the way everything turned out. Finishing twelfth given my cleat issue and back spasms is awesome and a good note on which to end the season. I think I would have been top ten without the cleat issue. The rest of the family enjoyed the stay at Rocky Gap! I also want to acknowledge Joe Fritsch who completed nine laps in just a little more than six hours. Awesome ride, dude!! The most laps anyone else completed was seven.