Sunday, August 13, 2006

Welcome to Expert

Today was my first Vet Expert race. It was the 1st race of the VA Derailer Series held in Franklin County.

Awesome weather. It was actually cold this morning. After spending the last few days in South Carolina it was shocking. We loaded up the whole family and the car again, less than 24 hrs after just unpacking it from returning from the beach. The kids were pretty excited about doing the kids' race. They did it last year. This time the youngest was off his training wheels, and the oldest has gotten in some real mountain biking.

At the start they were serious, like dad. Don't forget to have fun. Something that I need to remember as well.
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The little guy keeps his bite valve in his mouth ALL the time when he wears his camel bak
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The kids did this loop that had better single track than we raced on. My oldest son rode it once in his race, then did 3 more when he tagged onto the older kid's race, then 2 more with me than another 2 more times after that. He was smoking me.
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He had actually crashed off this slick wooden bridge into a small V ravine. His helmet was all muddy, seat twisted, and he had to pull his 35+ kids trek 3' out of the ditch. Why they don't make kids bikes lighter I don't know.

The little one rode the whole thing except he got a push from mom towards the end. Race referees looked the other way.
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A bunch of biker punks.
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Lining up with the Experts
I'd decided a few days ago to run Vet Expert. Mainly because I would never have done another lap for training after the 2 sport laps. I wanted the longer race to better prepare for Douthat and Rowdy Dawg that are both 2:20-3hr races.

I was a little nervous taking the start line with the other experts. The lumped all expert categories together at the start. They gave us big yellow numbers. We were slated to do 3 laps.

In previous races, I've changed my pacing strategy to go off the line somewhat conservatively in order to ride consistent pace through and finish strong. I figured that with the shorter time of this race that it might be better go back to my old school strategy of balls out off the line. Ideally, I wanted to stay with the leaders for at least one lap. Ha. yah. ok.

The entire plan changed about 30seconds off the line. I've realized that at a race of any significant length. Meaning anything longer than 15 minutes. That I can only go so fast. Trying to go faster leads to just going backwards. Off the line I started to go too fast then faded then finally came around to get into a sustainable effort.

So once I got my legs underneath me it was just a matter of going the best I could.
There are two components to riding that I've been working on. 1) Increasing my sustainable pace. 2) Increasing the ability to go into the red and recover back to sustainable pace. This happens every climb, or tough technical section, or trying to pass someone.

The course was alright. Not super pristine single track, but decent. Some rough riding around some fields and two monster creek crossings. One up past my thighs with some huge rocks and holes in it. If I didn't see it with my own eyes I wouldn't think it possible to ride. But these kinds of courses are difficult to hold any rhythm on. I tend to do better on courses that you can get in a groove on.
There were some really steep grinder climbs. Some were damp with wet rocks and roots. I was pleased that I rode them all (except one where I spun out in a mud bog) without too much issue and was able to get onto a bigger gear afterwards.

There was one damp muddy bridge that took out several riders in a heartbeat. Some of the downhills were steep and sketchy. In general it was a a rougher course than you'd think for these type of lap courses. I rode the hardtail, but in hindsight this course might have been better suited for the dually where you could power in the saddle through rough sections.

During the second lap, my time was similar to what I'd done last year for two laps. I was happy with this as I was still riding a steady pace into the third lap.

Though something was wrong with my nutritional plan. I did what I always did. Plain Hammer Gel and Gatorade. But today I was getting gassy/queasy and bloated with that sickly sweet aftertaste developing in my mouth. Not good. I also took 3 Sport legs 1hr before the race and 3 at around the 1/2hr point. I was daring my legs to cramp. The Sportlegs have treated me really well with regards to cramping, but today they failed a little when a cramp started about 5 minutes from finishing. I backed off so I didn't get anywhere near full lockup. I read on the mtbr boards that Sportlegs suggest taking 5 pills in the race 1hr before you think you'll need it. I might try that more in training.

I was pretty happy to finish feeling ok in the legs and roll under steam. But my stomach was in knots and I felt like hurling. My wife said I looked happy at the finish and she took a bunch of pictures. I said let me see the camera. In looking at the pictures I said, that isn't my happy face, that is my I'm going to hurl face. It looks like this half smile.

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My time was around 1:27 or so for 3 laps. Last year I did 2 laps in 1:03. So I'm pleased. The wining expert times were around 1:15. I'm not sure yet where I placed in vet expert. Overall I'm happy with the race, and glad that I moved up. It was going to hurt regardless of 2 laps or 3 laps. The simple reality is that the best that I can hope for is to continue to work hard and slowly with baby steps improve year to year. Those guys are just so fast though.

8 Comments:

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Carol said...

David and I enjoyed the photos -- Carol

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the bloating and sick feeling, you might want to try and increase your electrolyte intake.

I've been taking Elete, from your blog, according to the instructions and have found that I'm not getting enough as I sweat alot. During longer races, I was always getting that sick and bloated feeling.

Elete indicates a capful for a water bottle, but I started taking shots directly along with a drink of water and found that my sick feeling cleared up almost immediately.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

With regards to Elete, I've been putting it directly into my camel bak. I use their 1gallon (128oz) packet and put about 75% of it into 50oz of water in the camel back. So it is about double strength. Tastes like crap. but I haven't been having any heat related dizziness or heat related nausea.

This time it felt like too much sweet stuff. I wish there were othe alternatives for carb intake that weren't so sweet like gels and energy drinks

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger frank the tank said...

Good job moving up to Expert. In regards to nutrition... My adice is to forget about the Gatorade. Granted it's cheap and widely available; the simple sugars don't sit well with me. When I do use it, I dilute it 50/50 with water. I've had REALLY good luck with Hammer HEED; it doesn't upset my stomach at all.

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

I think I need to try HEED again. I tried it many months ago when searching for cramp prevention. It didn't do anything for that but neither does Gatorade or anything else (except for sportlegs a little). However I do recall HEED tasting less sugary and it does have the same carbo grams/serving which is what I'm really interested in.

I can always keep the Gatorade for training and use the HEED for races. The gatorade is just so cheap.

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had been using Elete according to the instructions and found that was not enough, hence the method of taking small shots of it with a mouthful of water. I'll never put the stuff in water again, plus it doesn't taste that bad straight!

Another trick to consider for cramps is molasses. A racer friend of mine used to be a pro-level volleyball player and swears by it. Fill a gel flask half way and take a shot of it when you feel the cramps coming on and they will disappear immediately, that is the honest truth!

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Ashwin,
Congrats on moving up to Expert! That's a big step but you'll get more out of it.
In regards to the sugary sweet stuff..try a scoop of HEED from Hammer Gel mixed in w/ 1/2 scoop of Hammer Gel's Perpetuem. The HEED will give you the needed electrolytes w/ out the sugar. The perpetuem will give you a little extra protein for the longer haul. Hammer Gel products also has something called Endurolytes. THese are electrolyte capsules. I take one 1/2 hour before the race and depending on heat, how hard I rode, etc, I take a couple following the event. I used to have a horrible problem w/ stomach cramps post-race. Now that I've been trying the Endurolytes, no cramps!

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the comment on Perpetuem - its great stuff. Recommended for much longer events, but I have had great luck with it in shorter events when mixed with Hammer gel - I find 2 tbsp of gel and 1/2 scoop Perpetuem per 24-28 oz water a good combo. It provides some protein, and a little teeny bit of fat seems to cut the gittery edge of the gel a little bit. Just note that the fat can make you a little phlegmy - experiment w/ the amount of Perpetuem to minimize this, otherwise you're choking after every drink - not fun when you're redlining anyway. Hammer themselves says never to mix their products w/ simple sugars though - its a documented recipe for a blood-sugar disaster, and one that I've experienced personally. (I've got touchy blood-sugar reactions, especially under physical stress.)

 

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