~ Behold: My new race kit ~
Results from Chico Racing – http://chicoracing.com/results/fox-spring-epic-8-hour-final-results.html
Note about mountain bike races: unlike road racing, you always get a full race. The fitness barrier to entry is lower than road racing and so is a good way to start racing, but the technical requirements mean that to be in contention (or even to better your bests) you have to train harder and smarter than you would for road racing.
I made two mistakes: (1) I waited too long to put my new tires on to make sure that they would set up correctly and not leak and (2) when I came out the morning of the race and the tire was very low, I should have just changed it. I also spent a couple minutes on lap 2 and 4 pumping the tire back up and should have taken the time to put a tube in as soon as I noticed it wasn’t holding. So maybe three mistakes.
What went really well: Single track riding, nutrition selections and revised in-race timing, tire choice and overall pace. Training has been good and the weekly strength sessions meant I was not too heavy on the bars.
Always remember: Look around on the double track to keep the body loose, ride smooth and give ground to passing riders when I choose (but don’t be a jerk).
Nutrition: This went quite well for me though I diverged from my plan by feeding earlier than expected. I started eating at the beginning of lap 2 (might as well start getting it down) and then picked up my first wrap (hummus, 5 inch wrap) for the beginning of the third. My next feed wasn’t scheduled until lap 7 but I continued to pick up a snack and eat at the beginning of the lap on the long uphill. After about the midpoint I switched out bottles and ate every other lap, started into the mini Pepsi cans at lap 5 (drank 3 over the race, in two portions) and supplemented my Nuun drink with their PLUS additive (which was awesome). All told:
- 1 hummus wrap
- 1 soy nut butter and jam wrap
- 1 honey stinger waffle
- 1 handful of pretzels
- 3/4 of a banana
- 3 small cans of Pepsi
- 5 700ml bottles of sports drink (1 + 1 mix)
- 2 cups of water at the mid-point
- 1 pound of dust on lap 1
The race began and the course was bone dry. Chico courses are usually pretty good with enough challenge in them to keep them interesting. Mansfield Outdoor Centre is a good place to ride (soil drains well, trails are interesting) but it is not my favourite. It was scheduled to rain at the start of the second half of the race, and as long as it was not heavy, Mansfield can take it and just get quicker.
The race started with a long shallow climb, but since it was very dry we were sucking dust for the first few kms. The long double track meant that there was little crowding at the single track trail head; for me at least. The first half is about 50/50 single/double with a few tight very short pitches but nothing really that hard. The second half had all the downhill, with a nice long 1.5 km long section that kept the pace up. I think it was about lap 4 or 5 that the rain started to come down, which was cold but killed the dust and made the course extra tacky. There was no mud at all, though I did wipeout on one part of the downhill section, as the course was getting dug up quite a bit.
When you wipe out and are still on the course and can’t get out of the way, you just yank your bike up on yourself and hope that everyone can make it around without rolling over your wheels or face. I let 5 or 6 riders go by and then got back to it.
After the downhill is the solo pit area (I fiddled with my rear tire until lap 5 where I stood on the trail and changed it out) and I hopped off just about every lap to load up with someone. In my first 8 hr race I took the time for a 15 minute break so that I could have a light but full meal, but this time I just ate on the bike.
Coming out of the solo pit area was a long uphill, with a steep switch back section. Lap 1 was a traffic jam and we were all walking the steepest part, laps 2-5 I rode and then after that I walked the middle of the hill.
Winding back towards the start line was some more single track and then a switchback downhill that many struggled to ride. I dragged my foot on lap 1 to make it past the tightest bend, ate dirt on the second and then successfully navigated the course on all subsequent laps.
Back in transition, I had a short walk to tap the timing chip and get sassed by one of the Chico brothers (would you have it any other way?), and then went back on the course. Laps 1-8 I CX-style remounted with a little jump back to fire myself up, the last two laps I was running low and just mounted from my feet. Kicking it up each lap was a mental/physical wake-up and I would spend the long double uphill eating, drinking and thinking about the better lines to ride in the single track.
At the end of lap 7 I knew that my stretch goal (12-13) was out of the question and it was a matter of can I get 10 or 11 laps in? 10 was the base goal so I was happy, and I know how easy it can be to think yourself out of the race so I just worked on #10 turn by turn and waited until the pit area to decide. I wasn’t baked or overly flakey and hitting trees, but I was definitely starting to lose it. Number 10 was done and I was happy to be finished. I had started walking all the pitches and it was clear that I had left it all on the course without leaving anything behind on the course (fingers, collar bones, testicles).
10 laps, 16/34 starters, 7:26:27 total time.
Next race is the Single Track classic, a relatively short 50 km that will sure to be punishing. Just about the same number of people in my category will be doing it as were at the Epic 8 and so my goals are: