Posted: Mon Aug. 15, 2011 12:47 pm
All factors considered, team H2O'Brien concluded with the best result we could have for the weekend. We had our fair share of issues but that is common for this kind of racing. We ended up 5th in Men's 12 Hour Pair which if everything had gone perfect is where we still would have ended up, so we did the best we could this weekend and I feel pretty good about it. I suspect we would have been in 6th if TP Masters had shown up for the best conditions Great Glen has ever seen, Perfect weather, Perfectly Dry Trails, Everything Ridable... but alas that was not the case so we BEAT them this year, and my expectation is we will beat them again next time. Trash talk aside, their presence was missed.
I was feeling pretty good about my training 6 days before the race. I had pushed myself hard the week before and felt it was really going to pay off for GG. Unfortunately with 5 days to go I came down with a bit of a Sinus issue, perhaps the results of pushing too hard the week prior. I took Wed & Thu off completely and that helped the sinus issue a lot but didn't fully send it packing before the race. Not knowing how I was going to feel for race day left a lot to be desired but after the Friday pre-ride I felt very optimistic. Much stronger than I expected to be with 2 full days off in a row prior. The sinus thing seemed to be a non issue, although I was a bit concerned about my energy level dropping to zero after a couple rounds.
Christina came up with Dana & I for a weekend of "camping". Little did she know her real role would be H2O'Brien team support. :) It was very nice to have her there and she played a very important part in the team's success.
So race day is here and we have decided on a one lap alternating strategy but needed to make a final decision about who goes first. I felt Dana had a lot more racing experience so he should go first, well not really "I just didn't want to," and Dana being the good guy he is, took on the Le Mans start. Dana had a good start and a good first lap and got us right where we needed to be. I got off on my first lap and maintained an exuberance of adrenalin and nervous energy throughout my whole first lap which made for a hard round but I got the job done and Dana was off. I was really looking forward to my second lap, hoping I could settle in on a race pace I could maintain and that I would be smoother and more relaxed doing it. I'm off and I can feel that surge of adrenalin kicking in again so I back it off a notch and try to relax. By the time I reach to high single track across 16 I'm feeling more relaxed, my breathing is in better control, and I'm flowing much better on the single track... things are going good. I'm starting to get curious how this lap's time will stack up to the first one. I'm thinking I will be about 5 minutes slower but am very pleased to only be 45 seconds slower. I figured with just a little more ratcheting back I could maintain something in the low to mid 50 minute laps if my energy level continued to hold strong. I'm starting to settle into the race now and realizing the alternating lap strategy is leaving me about the perfect amount of time off in between laps.
Dana's 3rd, my 3rd, and Dana's 4th lap are a bit of a blur but to sum them up, my 3rd is a tad slower than I thought it would be but I'm still happy with it, Dana has some mechanical and cramping issues but is still getting the job done and I'm off for number 4.
Number 4 was the perfect lap for me, it was again a little slower then I thought it would be but I was very happy with it and felt I could turn out a few more just like it. Then I rolled into the timing tent and got this terrible sinking feeling in my gut as I quickly realized there was no Cycle Depot jersey waiting for me at the timing station. This is not like Dana. As I'm rolling up to the timing station, I'm looking, looking, looking, but no Dana, then Christina appears out of the crowd and informs me Dana cramped up bad and can't make it. CRAP! Food and water are gone, it's 5 minutes to 7pm and the officials are strongly suggesting I get my lights... got to think fast... what am I going to do??? I'm before the cut off and know I can get another round in without needing lights but I have no Elixir water and one GU... then, "like an Angel descending to save the day," I look down and in Christina's hand is the solution, a full Elixir water bottle, "bells ring, lights go off, I can do this," I switch bottles, scan out, and I'm off for the second lap of a double. As I mount my steed and head out, all the thoughts about what this means for the rest of the race start to kick in. I round the first corner heading for the river crossing and Tim passes me going the other way with a BIG smile on his face (course doubles back at this point). Words might have been exchanged but I don't remember because all I can think about is how Dana is doing, what this means, and Tim thinking, "Ryan didn't look very happy". By the time I reach the top of the first climb Tim's soothing smile has pierced through my vale of negativity and I start thinking, "hey, worst case scenario, I get back, Dana's not there and maybe I'm done racing or maybe I'm a solo from here on out, we will just have to see." Being concerned about the lack of rest and food, I ratchet it back and stop for some Powerade at the watering station along the way to completing my double.
So, the moment of truth is nearly here, but I have already decided, "no matter what," I'm heading back to camp for rest, food, my lights, and will see what develops from there. And... there's Dana, waiting for me at the timing station, AWESOME! I happily transfer the baton to Dana (via the officials or course) and he is off. Back at the camp, I start contemplating the best foot forward. I don't really care what place we are in as I was pretty sure from the beginning there would be no podium for us, despite Dana mentioning Podium several times. All I came here for was to do the best race we could do. I know Dana is hurting but he's fighting back and I know he will give me the best he can. I know when Dana gets back from team lap #10 we will have about 3 hours left of racing. I really wanted the team to get in a minimum of 12 laps. After some contemplation, I know it's going to hurt but feel I have another double in me and either way that would be the best thing for the team. It's decided. I meet Dana after his lap and inform him I will do another double. If he has another in him, GREAT, if not, it doesn't matter, I'm done, and we got our 12 laps in.
I'm off for number 6 & 7 knowing it's a double and carrying enough food with me for both laps. First lap goes as expected, I scan out and Christina greets me with an Elixir bottle. I take a couple minutes to sit, unwrap my Shot Blocks, shove them under the cuff of my shorts for easy access, finish off my first bottle, and mentally prepare for the second lap. Christina points out Dana at the computers, there's a quick wave, and I notice he is dressed to ride, so I'm pretty sure he's able to do another lap. I scan in and I'm off for the second lap. Happy with how my legs are holding up and pleased that I have been able to ride everything, every lap, and with only a couple of dabs in total, I ride with the knowledge of each time I climb a hill or get through a difficult section, it's my last time doing it. I'm still riding conservatively but figure once I get to around 6.25 miles I will see what's left, and maybe, just maybe, not feel like death warmed over after. Then it happened! I'm rolling along on a carriage road and, SNAP! My seat rolls backwards and falls to the ground. REALLY!!! You got to be kidding me! My odometer says something like 4.13 miles (of 8.5). Without missing a beat and knowing I have nothing with me to fix this problem, I stop, pick up my seat with saddle bag still attached, unzip my jersey, and shove it in. I get on my bike, clip in, and start pedaling. About 25 meters later I start spinning out on a short steep hill. Off my pedals I go and start pushing. Get to the top of that knoll and get on again and start pedaling, coasting and relaxing my calves when I can, walking the steep carriage road hills, and walking the technical and uphill single track, figuring I won't lose too much time on those. The next mile seems to be taking FOREVER and I start regularly checking what time it is and what my forward progress is. 11pm is coming fast and I know I need to get back as soon as I can in order to give Dana time to still have the desire to get another lap in. Plus pretty soon I figure Christina and Dana are going to start worrying about what happened to me. I stop at the watering station hoping for some more Powerade, but there is none. I take some more of my water, get back on my bike, and start making some better forward momentum. Finally I get to mile 6 with the knowledge I didn't do so bad on the previous mile and hoping for the best with the next mile. Here comes mile marker 7 and confidence starts to build that this race will soon be over for me. Some more carriage roads, a short single track, more carriage roads, a push up the last climb, and I get to the top of the last climb with a string of riders in tow but only 1 or 2 getting by. I mount my steed, sans a saddle (remember) for one last battle and hope I can descend the stairs without a crash. Descending the stairs a lot slower but without incident I power through the rollers after with the knowledge I got this one, I'm riding her to the finish one way or another. Rolling in on wings of adrenalin I'm met by Dana (who seemed unusually in a hurry for this stage in the game) and my lovely wife Christina. Dana is off and I have the confidence he will get the job done.
Christina and I head back to camp and I optimistically think with a little food and the knowledge I'm done I'll be back to greet Dana at the finish. It doesn't take long to realize my stomach is unsettled and I'm, oh yeah, SPENT! I change into something warmer and try to eat something but I'm just too unsettled, cold, and tired, so I crash into bed. After a few minutes I warm up but every muscle fiber in my body is having these mini twinges and I feel terrible. No doubt a result of the day's efforts, combined with not enough food, and too much caffeine from the GU. Christina brings me some water, some pretzels and I'm still hoping to get to the finish line to see Dana come in but it just isn't in happening. Sorry Dana, I really wanted to see you finish, unfortunately my body wanted me to do nothing, more.
After another day of exhaustion, dealing with an unsettled feeling, and packing up for home, I finally get a good nights sleep and today feel like a new man again.
I might just be dumb enough to do this again afterall.
Posted: Mon Aug. 22, 2011 7:01 pm
The Pinnacle Pair Race Report:
Tyler and I competed in the 12 hour open pair class this year. The weekend started off like many others with an early Friday morning drive to the Mount Washington Auto road. We arrived just after 10am and were one of the first into the camping field, securing what has become our normal spot. We staked out a pretty big area to handle a few pairs, a couple solos, and a 4 person team. The solos ended up camping in the solo lot and one of the pairs apparently got scared off by the thought of being beat by a kid and an old man. So we ended up with a very large green this year. More people showed up Friday than I have ever seen, the field was mostly full by evening. Our Friday afternoon pre-ride revealed a very dry course, maybe a bit too dry. We also found some newly created single track on both Whiplash and Outback. Both were nice improvements that got better as the race progressed. After a fun evening of visiting by the campfire we all got a nice nights sleep.
Saturday morning arrived quite a bit warmer than normal, no hats required this year. After a trip to D&D it was time to get the race stuff ready. Tyler and I set up a table with a bunch pre-made food so we could maximize our rest between laps. Then we sat around and enjoyed watching the nervous energy of all the first timers on our 4 person sport team. I was very relaxed, and Tyler atleast appeared to be calm. 11:30 came and it was time to get things started.
I was doing the run for our team. Plan was to go fast enough to get ahead of the lap 1 congestion, but remain fairly comfortable. Ended up mounting the bike in the top ten, not bad. The plan was for me to do doubles and Tyler singles for the first few hours. We hoped this would get us fairly high in the running order, then switch to singles and hang on best we could. My first laps were uneventful, turning low 40s and actually taking over 1st place (Al Raine) just before handing off to Tyler. Tyler then busted out a mid 40s lap on his first ever competive lap at GG. He was matched up against Al's partner (Geoff McIntosh), who busted out a sub 40. We expected these two to be the class of the field and we were right. After another round of the double/single thing we were still in second place, about 5 minutes ahead of third. one more round and we were had only gained a few minutes on third, with first about 15 minutes up the trail. Now it was time to switch to all singles. As the race progressed we were ever so slowly opening the gap back to third. Then they started to fade and in one lap Tyler opened the gap by 11 minutes! We were no almost a full lap ahead of third. Now I was thinking when this thing started a top 5 would be a huge success. I told Tyler during a hand off to back down a little a be smooth, the only way they can catch us is if we do something that lets them back in the race. The lights are on now things are running smooth. You would have never known Tyler was a rookie at this stuff. He was basically on his own the entire race and handled himself perfectly. At 10pm we had a complete lap on third place and were surprisingly only 20 minutes out of first. I figured they were watching our lap times and just maintaining the lead. So we stayed in conservative mode to wrap up the race. When Tyler gained a couple minutes on Al on his last lap I just knew they were stroking it. I headed out on my last lap 18 minutes back, no chance unless they break a fram I thought. urns out I was wrong, they were having issues. Geoff was totally bonking on his last lap. I got within 2 1/2 minutes by the finish without even trying. Had I known what was happening I think I may have been able to catch him. Lesson learned, if your on the same lap ride hard cause you just never know.
So we finished second and were sitting by the campfire by 1am, listening to stories of cramps and busted saddles. Occasionally one of the four person team would head out with a look of dread, and shortly after one would roll in hoping to sleep for an hour. By 2am I was in bed sould asleep four the next five hours, very nice indeed. The 12 hour stuff is nice. I got just as many laps without the lack of sleep. The weather and trails were as good as I have ever experienced at Great Glen. Could not have been more proud of Tyler, kid did a great job. We were already talking 2012 over breakfast Sunday morning.