Sunday, September 17, 2006

No Fries for you

I told myself I'd get french fries if I broke 2:35 today. 2:40 or 2:41 or thereabouts. Pizza on the way home was consolation.

Many Thanks to Kyle and East Coasters and mother nature for such a wonderful day. It was wonderful to see Kyle's wife Debbie working the registration table, welcome back.

I'm happy with my ride. 15minutes faster than last year. But it was rough.

The pro/ex went off and then the Vet X, masters and junior X went off. There was no bottle neck for me because when we got to the initial climb I was with two other guys and the rest were gone. I mean gone gone like not even in sight. In the blink of an eye.

My legs weren't going too good at first. I knew I was over doing it and the legs were letting me know. I think I have to realize that my legs need to start slowly and then build up to the sweet spot in order to go their best. If I go to hard too soon they never seem to come around as when I ramp up.

This climb just goes on and on and on. It took almost an hour to get to the top. At the 1/2hr point I pulled out my magic pill box and downed 5 sport legs.

I'm in such a pickle sometimes. Because I knew I had to hold things in check otherwise I'd have no hope on the second climb, at the same time you gotta go cause it's a race and at if you want to move up from the back of the bus you gotta go.

Regardless I topped out and got on the flat sections and then promptly got passed by 2 people on the start of the downhill. 90% of the downhilling at Douthat is narrow trail with a drop off to one side. This is definitely a severe weakness in my skillset. I don't think it's a bicycle issue or losing 1/4" of suspension by going to the Azure from the Hollowpoint. And here on my home trails I can rail on the beast and old farm but not on Sidewinder/Snake root. For whatever reason I can't keep my vision down the trail and can't let go and fly. Fear is the overriding sensation rather than fun. Something about the sidehill dropoff keeps me wanting to hug the uphill side which just makes it worse.

The switchbacks went reasonably well. Left hand switchbacks were easy, righthanders were sketchy for me. Towards the bottom we get off the sidehill stuff and I had more fun, but still I didn't feel as comfortable as I think I should.

We dumped out into a campground and started riding on the road. 1:15 to the road. Same time as I did last year to the same spot. And Sure enough I started to cramp in almost the same spot. This race was a really interesting testimonial to how the Sportlegs are working for me in terms of cramp mitigation. Almost to the minute, 1hr from the point I'd take the Sportlegs, the cramps subsided for a little while at least.

They not only went away, but I could ride hard and not have to resort to survival mode riding. Into the second climb I cleaned almost the all the first part. I sometimes questioned the switch to the 24t front ring but in general I think it was a good choice as overall speed was faster compared to if I'd gone bailout with the 22/32. At 1:30 I took the second dose of Sportlegs. I actually dropped two of them and was debating continuing on. F that, I stopped, backed up and picked them off the ground and got them down.

I caught up to the two guys who'd passed me on the downhill and we traded spots several times. It seemed like I was climbing stronger than either of them (when not cramping) but they were downhilling better.

After the inital climb there is some fun downhilling but then it gets really brutal. Several steep grunts that are loose and under fatigue just hellacious. The cramps were back again, but I'm quite proud to have kept the pedals turning and not get shutdown by them. My left calf was almost completely locked up. It is totally tender to the touch right now.

The last downhill is straight stretches into sharp switchbacks. Again the left handers were great but I feel totally awkward on the righthanders. But I cleaned them all which was a first. The bottom of this downhill is SOOO much fun, I love carving the turns and am able to float through some rock sections. This time I went through the creek instead of trying to battle climbing up the suspension bridge. The spectators at the bridge said 3 miles to the finish.

The LONGEST 3 miles with the exception of the ridge of Dragon's Back I've ever ridden.

Right about this time the cramps were coming back. But again, 1hr after I'd taken the last dose the went away and was able to ride decently strong again. My 60 oz of gatorade was gone too. My timer was set for 5min intervals. And I missed several due to being on a downhill or otherwise occupied. I was definitely drinking more than 20oz/hr as it ran out about 2:20.

Mentally I wasn't all there today and the mind was wandering. But the goal of 2:35 was willing me on. On and on this trail goes. I was riding it much much stronger than last year which was inspiring. The last downhill was rough but I hit it well and rode into the finish at 2:40 or 2:41 or something like that.

In looking at the boards it looked like I was next to last for VetX. Not an issue to me right now. I feel like I know what needs to be done for next year and that I'm real close to making improvements that would put me up higher.

As I was rolling back to the car I saw my friend John. Poor guy had flatted and his C02 crapped out on him and was pumpless. Hence a DNF but he did go home with a black eye as a prize from hitting a tree.

No mechanicals, no crashes, didn't bonk though was starting too. Cramped hard but rode through it. What more can you ask for? I learned a few things too. That's one of the beautiful things about mountain bike racing is that you always learn something new about yourself.

I think the magic in the sportlegs is working I just need to time the intake better. It seems like I need them at little earlier. Like at :15 in and 1:15 in and 2:15.

-I think I could have made up 2 or 3 more spots if I'd been able to hang better on the downhills. I need to figure out what it is about the sidehills that throws me off and then a method for improving on them.

-I need to force myself to practice hike-a-biking cause no matter how good I 'think' I am I'm gonna be hike-a-biking.

As proud members of Team MWC (married with children) our obligations do not end with racing and representing our sponsors well. When I dropped off John at his house he was informed that his youngest son's bags were packed and he was 'hitting the road'. Damage control was required. When I got home, I learned about my youngest son's total misbehavior and bad attitude that pretty much ruined the day for my wife. Sort of dimishes the successes of the day.

It's never easy. Mountain bike racing and parenting that is.


At 2:54 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I used to cramp very heavily until I started adding salt (1/4 tsp per 24oz or so) to my Gatorade and -- in the Camelback -- water. In fact, I tried SportLegs and they led to me cramping worse! I figured out that with bananas, yogurt, and other milk products in my diet, I was getting a lot of potassium but not enough sodium to offset. I also salt my dinner each night -- it has made a HUGE difference!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

Did you know that the new Gatorade Endurance is just like regular gatorade but with additional sodium? I've been thinking of trying it out. I'm also going to try out the extra salt. We eat really healthy in general which equates to pretty low salt intake which isn't so good given my cycling and high sweat rate.

thanks for the tip.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Mike Howard said...

Have you tried the Elite drops and Endurolyte combo ? I start taking a couple Endurolytes a day 5 days out from my race and Elite three days out in everything I drink....4 Endurolytes day before and 3 morning of race and 3 before start...then 3 every 45min of race...I have had great results with this method.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Grant Blankenship said...

I compared the ingredients in Endurolytes to the multi-vitamin my wife always wants me to take. The vitamin has all of the electrolytes of the Endurolytes plus whatever vitamins you would associate with such an over the counter wonder pill. So, I'm trying to get in the habit of taking my vitamin everyday for prophylactic electrolyte consumption.

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous web said...

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