Thursday, July 14, 2011

Firecracker 50 Race Recap: 9th in Maverick Category

First and foremost, I’ll recognize that I’ve been quite absent from the blogging universe so with some downtime in August after a few more races in July, I hope to rally. Sorry!

Due to a mediocre finish at the Bailey HUNDO after a wonderful trip to the Philippines, I sought to regain fitness for the remaining month of June and July. I set out Wednesday before the Monday, July 4th Firecracker 50 race to camp and ride at elevations above 9500 feet. It started off at Twin Lakes, Colorado where I intended on three consecutive days of logging seven plus hours in the saddle but due to an intense cold front, I bailed three hours in on day two. I was able to manage 11 hours total along the Colorado Trail segments in the area, all with a 12-15 lb. backpack.  I felt like I was training for the Breck 100, 24 hour solos, and stage races all in one weekend!

Leadville 100 race peak
My pregnant bag of 6 CarboRocket bottles.

The CO Trail is gorgeous! Trail segment 11 is the way singletrack is supposed to be! Three weeks after returning from the Philippines, I think my jet lag had run its course by the end of this trip.  Due to the nasty weather, I headed to Breckenridge on Thursday and planned a seven plus hour ride on Colorado Trail and additional trail systems with the same backpack.  I managed another near eight hour day on even more pristine singletrack. For the remainder of the weekend, I caught up with Brett on Tiger Road where we established our campsite for the weekend.  We got a couple of easy rides in, putting me at 21 hours of saddle time upon entering the Firecracker 50.

Since the Firecracker 50 was a preparation for the Breck 100, I didn’t traditionally taper like I normally should, so I originally made goals and expectations of myself that reflected this. Although, plans to simply pace up the Firecracker 50’s initial climb soon were aborted when I realized my legs and mind were motivated and tried to stay on with the lead group. I pushed hard on the eight mile paved and dirt road climb leading into the first sign of singletrack.  Time trialing a hill climb was one thing, but powering up punchy climbs was another.  Due to ramping up hours on the bike lately, my legs felt underpowered on the steep punchy climbs throughout the race.  As much as I could have suffered from a big week, I was feeling lucky to have my legs underneath me.  The first of two 25 mile laps seemed to be going my way until the Carter Park descent where I was ripping through switchbacks until my Ergon GX2 bar end clipped a limber tree I never even knew was there. I checked my Garmin GPS stats and I went from 15 mph to zero in a flash.  I’m not sure what the crash looked like but it had to be ugly. I remember my hip, head, knee, and ankle hitting at different times before I skidded to a stop while my bike was still doing summersaults. I knew that if I thought about this much, it would affect me more than it should, so I made sure my body was ok, then my bike, then pushed through the mistake. My saddle was completely crooked so I tried to punch it straight until I lost patience and agreed to be violated for the thirty miles left in the race.

My unhappy and taco'd saddle after meeting a tree.  RIP...
I am happy I was able to mentally ride through this accident because it could have easily cost me even more time if I let myself feel as unhappy as my saddle.  I lapped through for the second grind up the eight mile climb.  I remember grimacing from the pain in my hip area while dirt worked it’s way into my cuts all over my body.  I kept having to make sure that my bibs were all in one piece because on a crash like that, usually you have an ass cheek showing from ripped shorts, must be the Primal construction!  I later found out, another rider did have it worse than me and was racing bare ass! I was able to catch and pass several of the riders that passed me when I went down.  Again, I attacked the road/dirt climb and was amazed that I had the legs to push as hard as I did.  The rest of the race was crash free and I managed a solid effort throughout, especially when it came to nearly clearing Little French.  If you don’t know Little French, it’s very rocky with shale over shale for a fairly lengthy and steep climb with a couple stream crossings.  It’s a climb I never want to give up on because I can’t stand hike-a-biking and you can lose a ton of time and positioning if you mosey up it.

I was lucky to do incredibly well in the nutrition department without any ups and downs or GI issues thanks to CarboRocket, Hammer Gels, and Honey Stinger Chews.  In nearing the end of the race, I grinded out the last uphill sections and was happy that I was leaving everything on the course.  Rocky Mountain Racing teammate, Aaron Adams, and I were yo-yoing often during the race and I ended up pacing us on the fireroad leading to the Carter Park finish which was a descent my triceps will never forget! It was great to race with Aaron along the way since he’s a super strong rider and pushed me harder to the finish than I could have done alone. Thanks Aaron!

In the end, I finished in 4:57:08, 9th in Maverick and 109th overall. Results here.

I have to thank the race organizers, Jeff Westcott and company, and the incredibly clever, supportive, and positive volunteers that helped make this race a success! I only have roughly 16 races under my belt, but I’ve never experienced a more supportive cast than this.  A special thanks goes out to whoever the hell was on the Boreas Pass Road climb who encouraged us to jump off ramps and roll over logs thirty miles deep into the race! I was in race mode so all I remember is jumping a ramp, Rocky Balboa theme music playing, and a guy with a funky headband waiting for me after the obstacle course to slam a bottle of Wild Turkey. These guys need to be at every race. I was absolutely cheesing out!

So, after 26 hours of riding in six days, I’m happy with my results and looking forward to the next race, Breck 100, which is in less than two days.  It’s my race of all races this summer.  That’s unless 24 hour solos become one of my new challenges.  I’m not going to lie, I feel really good and motivated about the 24’s in the early fall, especially the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs which are also the National Championships.

Believe it or not, this ice bath is right on the money at 50 degrees.   Took three of these leading up to the race. Stay in for 10 minutes and your body will thank you later. Follow it with time on a foam roller.
Clearly, post race and happy to be done!
Again, I apologize for falling off the face of the blogging world, my only excuse is that I ride too much to keep in touch. For now, I'll be recovering this week, camping and riding light off of Tiger Road with days and nights like these...

See you on the trails,