Monday, April 15, 2013

Rattler 100K (Leadville Qualifier)

I just had to meet Rebecca Rusch. She is such an incredible athlete and I admire her. She is 3 time winner of Leadville and course record holder. She is past winner and course record holder of Dirty Kanza. She is a Firefighter in Idaho. She has many other titles and accomplishments. When I heard she would be at Smithville, racing the Rattler 100 (a Leadville qualifying race) I knew I had to sign up. This would also be good training for dirty kanza.

So I wake up at 4am on race day, load my heavy ass 29er, and head to Smithville. I am questioning myself the whole drive- I'd rather be at home in bed. But then I got to Rocky Hill Ranch and a rich electricity of excitement was buzzing in the air. There were so many people and everyone was happy and friendly. Packet pickup was quick and smooth, and the t-shirts were awesome. I put my ice chest in the feed zone area just past the start finish line. We would be doing 4 X 15.5 mile laps totaling 100K (62 miles) so I would be needing feeds.

There was a MASS START. Everyone was fighting for a spot and I ended up next to a girl from Mexico and she started mad dogging me. She talked loudly to the matching kit man beside her about keeping up with Rebecca. So I figured she was some pro or something. I know nothing of mountain bike girls these days. So when the gun went off, sure as shit Mexico mama goes on the outside up to all the fast guys. I jump on her wheel for the free ride. I see Stefan, JT Cody, Tristan Uhl, Robbie Robbinette, and other likes. YIKES. 

LAP 1: So we hit the first incline and Mexico girl pops. I am surrounded by guys so I am unsure where any other women are (other than Rebecca who is up front). The incline turned steep and lasted a long time. The group splintered. Man, I should have pre-rode. With no knowledge of the course, I blindly follow tight behind any wheel I can scramble upon. Drafting on trails is quite different and much harder than on the road. No one was pointing out stuff. You have to be ready for anything. There were some crazy single track sections that made me scream and pucker. I survived and was back at the start/finish. 3 more times. UGH! I think I can...I know I can. So one of my darling friends saved my life and gave me my hand ups so I wouldn't have to stop and scrummage in the cooler.

LAP 2: This was when the shit hit the fan. I am on a jeep road and can motor so I have a string of ducklings behind me hitching a ride when before I realize we take a 90 degree turn into the single track. Oh NO! I didn't have time to get behind the guys. For those of you who KNOW me inside and out, I have some power but lack the technical skills on the trails to go with the power. This means a lot of flailing and sometimes crashing. Especially if people are behind me. I get nervous. So I am winding in and out of trees and they are getting closer and closer to each other until finally I don't make one pass and WHACK, my handlebar clips a tree, sending me belly flopping down the side of a shrub infested hill. The guys all stopped but I told them to go on. I collected myself and got back on, luckily with only a few puncture wounds on my leg and knotted up knee. Back in business, I have time to make up so I haul booty. Until I hit a trench at speed and burp most of the air out of my rear tire. I have to stop and air it up best as possible with my little frame pump. My brain was already showing signs of prolonged oxygen deprivation because it woulda been hell of faster to use my CO2... So with about 15 psi in my rear, I continue on.

LAP 3. I ride with 787's long legged Sheeva. Over 2.5 hours in and only consumed one water bottle and one protein/electrolyte bottle, I need to work on my nutrition. I brain farted and didn't stop at mechanic's tent for air. So I baby my bike the whole lap. This is the worst lap for me mentally because I know I still have one left.

LAP 4: This time I remember to stop at the mechanic's tent and they pump up my rear tire while my friend feeds me pb&J uncrustables and a gatorade. I feel GOOD after that and head out for my last lap. The announcer screams that I am the 2nd place woman, just behind Rebecca! I want to be on the podi with her so bad. That would be the coolest thing EVER! So I need to just ride safe and steady. No crashes, No mechanicals, No mental breakdowns. JUST GET THROUGH. And I did, 4 hours 41 minutes. It was much harder than the Red River Riot, hands down. My whole body hurt. Rebecca beat me by like 20 minutes or so and was already showered by the time I finished. I got to meet her and she was super cool! It was an awesome day for my memory bank.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Red River RIOT!!!!! 200k dirt road race

Thursday night I had a wonderful time at Driveway with my lovely teammates. I even stayed for the 3/4 race and luckily Kim and I missed the wreck, got it on GoPro video though! Kim was a beautiful star in my video taping. I got home later than I thought and opted for bed instead of packing for the RIOT. I figured I could get packed in the morning since the Slauson bus didn't leave until 2pm.

I woke up still undecided which bike to take but went with the Gunner Cyclocross bike that I commute to work on. It is the heaviest but very comfortable and the race is going to be at least 7 hours. I had to switch out tires and make a few adjustments and you know what they say about not switching things out right before a race without first testing it out. OH WELL. So I scurry around and get my things together just in time to leave. I guess there is a lot more prepping for endurance rides than a 45 minute crit. It takes 5 hours of driving north on 281 to get to Denton and one stop at Maverick's Burger joint. BEST hamburgers ever. Seriously. As soon as we get to the hotel my heavy bike is raped by the boys and some monster tires are placed on my wheels. They said the tires I put on would not suffice for the race. This is a 200k (130-ish miles) race that is 95% on dirt roads with steep hills, quick sand, rumble sections, sharp rocks, loose turns, pot holes, cow pies, and the likes. I did not argue about the new tires, but it doubled the already heavy weight of my bike. ugh! 

Early to rise, I helped myself to the awesome hotel breakfast (not) and then we headed off to the start. I had two large water bottles and a camel bak. I packed all my tools into my pack so that all three pockets could be packed with food and gu. This is going to be a long day! I meet up with Louise Smyth at the start, for those of you who do not know her, she is a tall pretty girl who kicks butt. She comes across shy and is nice. She also is packing a camelbak - we look like dooms day preppers.

 There are a lot of people at the start and most of them are doing the shorter, 100k route. A few are even doing the shortest 30 miler. BUT, we all start off together and there is no way of telling who is doing which route. My legs are prepared for a long steady push of a pace so when we start off and the speeds are averaging 25mph, I am stunned and legs are burning. I am not going to survive. THINK positive, it will ease up. I look down and we are only 5 miles in. 5 out of 120! What the----$@%$#@^. I look up to the front, and San Antonio's Doug Foxworth is the douche that is pushing the pace. I WILL KILL HIM! Doesn't he know those wankers up front are only doing the first lap!? Doesn't he know we have to ride all day?! I try my best to keep up.

So every time we hit a hill I fall off the back a little but Kevin Barton (my babysitter) is there and pulls me back to the lead group as soon as the dirt incline levels off. I look down again and still not even 10 miles in. I told Kevin to stop coming back for me, but as soon as that happened the pace lightened up and small groups were established. There were a hand full of guys off the front and then my group of 10-15. Louise was glued to my wheel. Doug had cooked himself and Jim went back to nurse him (Bicycle Heaven boys). My group rode together for 20 miles but then divided in half. My babysitter (Kevin) joined the faster group and I was in the bottom cut. Louise was still on my wheel. We went through sticky sections, loose sections, slick sections. Then BOOM! Heartbreak hill. There were people walking up from the group that was ahead of us. We caught and passed them. My group exploded. Louise was got sideways and had to clip out and walk. I waited for her at the top of the hill. We continued on. Just me, her, and some guy named Cy. 3 of us. We finished the first of two laps and rolled back into the parking lot. I found Kevin, my sitter, was still there. I grabbed more water and then we were off for the second half (a different, longer loop). Cy, Kevin, Louise and I head out another 4 hours. There is only one guy ahead of us on the course. Kevin and Cy do a majority of pulling and I take a few turns when able. Then we roll up on Tyler, a badass master racer from Kansas. He was cramping but is able to sit on. We are now the lead group. When we get to mile 85 there is a water stop and Cy needs to fill up his bottles. Since he did a lot of work, we all stop with him. Louise tells us she needs to roll up the road to pee. We stand around for 5 minutes then roll up to get her and continue on. No Louise. But there is one tire mark in the sand ahead of  us. No. No way. Did we get juked? Snaked? She would not do that. But she did. 40 miles left. We rode on. I rode in disbelief.  We were getting cranky. Landmarks start looking familiar and the guys tell me that we finish by merging onto the first loop we did. This meant that stupid heartbreak hill again. I was able to ride up it but my garmin kept auto pausing because I was creeping so slowly. I started thinking of George W Bush when he forgot the famous quote: "Fool me once..." and I started laughing. I guess this was one of the lessons you gotta learn when racing. Always keep an eye on the enemy. The last 40 miles we stayed together and nursed each other along, creating a bond and memories that will last a lifetime. Cy, Kevin, Tyler, and I finished together and it was verified that Louise had already come in. So we rounded out the top five and I got a cool flask. After just over 7 hours on the bike, I think I am actually going to use the flask.

It took a full gallon of water to get the dirt off my face and legs. Before the race I put embrocation on and learned it works as an adhesive for dust and dirt. You can't make that shit up. Once I sat down, my legs cramped and I could not get up. This ride is definitely on my top 10 hardest days spent on a bike.