Tuesday, October 23, 2012
About two weeks ago, I got an unexpected call from long lost Rez Dog and all around hard man Theron Hathaway. It seems that his boss had formed a four man team for the 24 Hours of Moab race with himself, a coworker and Theron confirmed as riders but one open racing slot due a last minute illness. Did I want to race? That took about a minute to answer. Of course!
Having done a few longer mountain bike races and the Dawn til Dusk race a few times (the most recent rendition excepted as being considered a “long” race), I have always been curious about some of Rez Dogs’ fascination with the 24 hour race. Even with a four man team, racing around the clock never made a whole lot of sense to me. Racing at night? Stupid. Racing in the cold at night? Stupid(er). Racing in the cold at night when tired? Stupid(est). To say I was resistant to racing in a 24 hour race would have been like saying I was resistant to hauling bottles of wine or pounds of meat in my camelback--I mean, who does that? And yet, every year, Rez Dogs would routinely tell me how great the experience of a 24 hour race was and how much fun they had. Could I be missing something by not at least trying a 24 hour race? Time to find out.
The 24 Hours of Moab is run from Saturday at noon until Sunday noon in the area southwest of Moab known as “Behind the Rocks”. I rolled into the staging area after the race had already begun around 12:30pm while Theron was out on the first lap. This gave me a chance to set up camp and catch up with Beth and the Hathaway boys Perrin and Jonathon David (JD) while also meeting my teammates Matt and Ryan. Perrin looks exactly like Theron but with dark red hair and little freckles. JD as the newest Rez Puppy is a little squishy blond Perrin who is cuddly and loves to be tickled. Needless to say, I got to hold him a bit before my first lap. Theron came in and immediately proceeded to curse the course, the sand, his all too fast of a start (is anyone surprised reading this?) and pretty much all things 24 Hours of Moab. The good news? He was proudly sporting his Rez Dog jersey. Keep in mind, Theron sold all of his bikes (road, mountain and otherwise) after being cut off from Tomac’s customer service department for frequently replacing broken bits through warranty (again, is anyone really surprised?) for a Yeti 575 free riding machine. And this was his 24 Hours race machine. A 35 lb. steed with flat pedals and six inches front and rear. I figured his angst at the course had more to do with dragging that anchor around than the course itself.
Matt was the second rider and due to Ryan feeling sick, I was on for the third lap. Matt and I made the switch and I tackled the 15 mile loop for the first time. In short, I shared Theron’s frustration with the course. The first mile is singletrack in a sandbox followed by a two to three mile rocky climb broken up by batches of sand. The next four to five miles feature equal parts climbing and descending with a few technical jeep trail sections that could be possibly ridden but I think Hans Rey retired and Danny Mac Askill is in Scotland. There were at least three mandatory hikeabike climbs that made me rethink my latest fascination with cyclocross followed by some more sand and significant straightaways (finally!). After mile nine, you enter the “Behind the Rocks” section and cruise through double track before being dropped at the foot of the last long climb at mile eleven. After the mile climb, it is a downhill sprint back to the road and the staging area if you don’t have to dismount on the way down due to sand. Seriously.
Long story made short, the first lap went well. The second lap felt better. The third lap was absolute garbage. And the fourth lap felt great again. We ended up fifth in our category and 27th overall which wasn’t too bad. Will I do another 24 hour race? During my second night lap,I kept muttering, “Give me a proper road race any day. This sucks!” but like all things racing, time dulls the agony and magnifies possibilities. Now, if I could just get the sand out my ears…
PS-I did take pictures this time, but I am waiting to receive them from Ryan. When they come, I’ll post.
One dog goes for a hundred
Zuni Mountains 100, by Paul B.
It’s cold and still a little dark, the sun is still 45 minutes from rising. There is a huge bonfire. Jack is in charge, we all surround the fire to stay warm.
I’ve got to figure out my clothing, I decide to start with tights on and a few layers of upper body wear. Will I need to start with lights? I might. I ask the others, they think that it will be light enough by the time we hit the single track. I leave my light behind.
My bike is ready, my pack is checked. Last chance until I return back to this point after 50 miles.
Off we roll, it’s chilly, a beautiful morning. Down the road until we hit some trail. It’s getting colder as we go downhill. My fingers are freezing, I can’t feel the brake levers. Changing gears is a challenge too.
I start to warm up a little on the climbs only to get cold again on the descents. We are ripping down Sawmill to Purple Haze now. I can see the sun starting to break through onto the ridge over to the west.
Feeling warmer, I start to plan the peeling off of my clothing layers. I pull off the long sleeve jersey while free-wheeling the short road section between Purple Haze and Milk Ranch. I decide to keep the arm warmers on since Quasi canyon will still be in shade.
I start the grind, it’s loose and rocky. A technical climb with no margin for error. Even though it’s cold I need to remember to drink, I have to stay hydrated for this ride. My electrolyte mix doesn’t taste great at this hour, where is my tea?
I’m climbing with a couple of guys, we yoyo back and forth on the trail. I see Dan up ahead. We rode together at Rico this past summer. He disappears up the trail.
Finally I’m at the top, what a slog. I plan more clothing adjustments. I’ll keep the tights on for the descent down Burma, it will be chilly. I stop at Hilso and take off the tights, others have stopped too and resupply with water and food. I munch on a Clif bar, one of many more to come.It’s time to put sunglasses on.
One guy has a leak in his hydration pack, he has no water. He keeps going. We hit the next climb, it is rocky and rutted. Up to Lost Lake Rim trail, I need to eat. Another Clif bar? It’s all about replacing calories today. I drink some mix, it tastes better now.
I’m rolling on Lost Lake now, it’s in the big ring and it feels good. I stand up and stretch the lower back. It feels tight. There is no one else around me through here. I bomb down Quaking Aspen, it’s fast and technical. I love it.
Right turn onto Y2K and I catch a couple of guys at a junction in the trail, they seem to be unsure of which way to go. “Go right” I yell and they follow me down the trail. We ride together all the way to Torreon. I stop to get some food out of my pack and they pedal on. Trail mix, yum! Stretch the back and the legs. Back on the bike and pedal some more.
One section at a time, you can’t worry about what’s coming up 20 miles down the line. I concentrate on getting up Torreon, it’s rocky but not very steep. It’s hard to find a rhythm.
I bomb down Plush trail, it’s rocky too and technical in places. I hear a hissing sound coming from the back wheel. It’s flat before I can roll to a stop. There is a piece of root the size of a pencil sticking out of the tyre, no amount of sealant will take care of that. I need to put a tube in. While I’m sitting there I’m stuffing fistfuls of trail mix into my mouth. It feels good to be sitting down. I think I’m around the 40 mile point. I pump, I eat. Two guys pass me. They offer help and commiserations.
The tyre has air, the belly has food. Let’s go. I concentrate on getting up Tampico. It’s a loose rocky trail which is not easy after 45 miles in the legs. I look forward to my resupply at the car. I’m flying down Mike’s Rippin trail, ‘careful mate no more flats’. I’m planning my resupply.
I hit the start/finish area and sign in after the first 50 mile lap. It takes just over 5 hours. I find my car and see Greg sitting in his truck nearby. Great, maybe he can help me. I ask him to lube the chain. He mentions something about having to go back to town right away. I get ready to smack him. He lubes the chain.
I wolf down a sandwich, it doesn’t even touch the sides. Down goes the ice tea, yum. Mix the camel back, grab some Clif bars, grab more trail mix. Greg gives me some gels.
I sign out for the next 50 mile loop, that stop took me 16 minutes. The next 50 is the reverse of the first 50. Those fun ripping descents now become uphill grinds. My pack is heavy again. I’ll need every last ounce of its contents.
I blow down Strawberry to Bumpy field where I meet Lloyd at the fence. He is just out for a joy ride and offers words of encouragement. Always a pleasant guy.
Not long after meeting Lloyd, Tim Pickert comes flying down lower Plush, he is doing the 50. He is going fast and looking strong. We shout greetings. I’m passing the opposite direction 50 mile riders now.
I hit Plush trail, uphill this time. The legs actually feel ok at this point, I find a rhythm. That wasn’t so bad. At the top of Plush I meet Ryan D. going the other way. He asks how I’m feeling. He spurs me on. Another guy that always seems to be in a good mood, he is somewhat of a beer guru. Maybe he will hook me up with some at the finish. I start thinking about beer. After this much riding the mind is starting to wander off on a tangent.
I concentrate on pedaling, the next section I worry about is coming up. I eat, I drink. I force it down, the stomach doesn’t feel like it but I have to take in calories and fluids. Not another bar, yuck. I try a gel, it is sickly sweet. Yuck. I promise my belly I’ll treat it to beer at the finish.
I consider the Quaking Aspen to Lost Lake grind that is only a few miles away. It’s technical and long but only steep in a few places. The legs are trashed, my arse is sore. My lower back actually feels a little better. My hands hurt. Stop being a wimp and grind it out.
I roll through Lost Lake rim in the big ring again. It feels fast but only because I was going so slowly up the grind to get to this point. I stretch and drink. I don’t know how many miles I’ve done, my computer wasn’t working at the start so I left it behind. I think that I prefer not knowing. I guess at around 70 miles.
I like riding in the forest during this time of the year. The trails are covered in leaves and pine needles. The light is at a perfect angle and it is not too hot this afternoon. What a fantastic day to suffer!
I’m coming up on my resupply at Hilso. Some guys have cached water there. I was wise and cached my wife there. I’m so happy to see her as I roll up to the car. She is sitting there in a camp chair reading school books. I fill my camel back and munch on some chips. I eat half a sandwich. I down some trail mix. She tells me I’m doing well and looking good. If only she knew how I was feeling. We plan to intercept at the road between Milk Ranch and Purple Haze. I tell her to meet me there in two hours.
Off I pedal. I get psyched out about the prospect of going up Burma but it’s not so bad. I spin up it and it goes by quickly. The next section really psyches me out though. The upper part of Quasi is rocky, technical and steep in places. With fresh legs it wouldn’t be so bad but at this stage I’m not looking forward to it.
My suspicions are confirmed and I’m having a hard time on this section. I can’t get into a rhythm and I’m all over the place. I walk the short, steep, loose sections. It’s easier that way. Actually feels good to walk a few steps. My bike handling skills start to deteriorate as fatigue sets in.
I reach the lower part of the canyon and go past Bear cave. I’m just trying to keep it together through here. A small 3 foot high tree grabs my handlebars and flings me onto the ground. It takes me a second or two to realize what has happened. I land on the right side of my body and the right elbow takes the brunt of the fall. Ouch, the swearing begins. I lie there for a few more seconds then take stock of the damage to the bike and body. Both are ok so I get back on and pedal. I’ve lost all sense of motion and rhythm and I’m bouncing off everything at this point.
I’m not happy. It takes a while to regain what little composure I have left. I roll through Milk Ranch and cross the road to meet with the ‘intercepting wife cache’. I tell her how that section sucked and gulp some plain water. All I want is plain water, no electrolyte mix or anything sweet. I eat some chips, one bite of sandwich, one mouthful of trail mix. I grab my light in case I have to finish in the dark. Hopefully I won’t, I’m at the intercept 30 minutes ahead of plan. I tell her to meet me at the finish around 6:30. Off I go again.
This next section starts to loom in my mind. It’s Purple Haze up to Sawmill and has some short but very steep sections which are loose and technical in places. After this many miles this might turn into a comedy of errors. Even though my legs are hammered they feel surprisingly good at this stage and I don’t have to walk as many of the steep sections as I thought I might.
There is a guy about 10 minutes ahead of me up the trail. I don’t try to catch him, it doesn’t matter to me anyway. I’m just trying to finish this beast. The angle of the sun is lowering. I concentrate on pedaling and staying upright.
One section at a time now, I’ve got this. I think we’re good here. I bump into some guy with a bright green jacket. I saw him earlier in the day but don’t know how he got to this point. He mumbles something about shortcuts and different loops. I’m just trying to stay on the bike and in one piece.
I grind it out, it takes forever. I hit the road and pedal past the dry lake. I can see the start finish area off to the left. This is it, I’m out of the woods, literally. There is a small group of guys near the fire. They cheer for me and offer congratulations. One guy has the clipboard and asks for my name, He writes down 6:10 pm as the finish time.
I stumble towards my car, looking for the wife. I recognize people but can’t remember their names because I’m too tired. I plop down in the camp chair. I don’t know what I should do next.
I’m done, finally. 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing in just over 11 hours total.
I need food. I need water. A change of clothes feels good too. I stumble about the place for a while. The sun goes down. It gets cold again.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
SQUASH BLOSSOM - 2012
CAT 2 MAYHEM,
REZ DOG FOOD CHAIN &
There was no better place on the planet to be a mountain biker last week than Gallup, New Mexico. A report:
1. PORTALS, SWARMING HORNETS & NIGHT LIGHT ESCORTS. Before we turn to this weekend’s Squash Blossom Classic races let’s look back to some random highlights from this Wednesday’s ride when 11 Rez Dogs wove their way over various routes to the Lost Lake Rim Lookout at sunset:
· Bob Rosebrough – who was thoroughly entranced by Chuck Van Drunen’s plots to wreck havoc on our Cat 2s in the Squash Blossom – went skidding past the turn in and kicked up a huge cloud of dust to the amusement of the boys gathered at Cabin 34.
· Chuck, who was trying every trick in the book to talk Brian Leddy into racing Cat 2 in the Squash Blossom: “Greg wants to knock off Chad. Brian wants to knock off Greg.” Prolonged Chuck cackle. “There has to be a food chain.” Another extended cackle.
· Within two minutes of arriving at Lost Lake Rim Lookout to a glorious sunset, Ryan Dashner was dancing around swatting his legs and yelling, “Big ants are biting me!!!” It turns out that the bites were actually coming from a swarm of small hornets or bees – 40 to 50 – that were bunched in the exact spot were Ryan’s glass bottle of sweet honey bourbon broke earlier in the year by the fire pit.
· Moving down the slope to avoid the bees/hornets, Kevin Zwiers started a fire and Bob and Lee Perlo started serving up chicken burritos and sausage sandwiches.
· Bill Siebersma – looking northwest just after the sun dipped below the distant horizon as the fire was kicking up - said, “We should start a big fire on the HDT and see if we can see each other.”
· During the head light romp back to the cabin Kevin attempted, unsuccessfully, to recreate his “portal ride” in which he was somehow mysteriously transported over Danoff Road without ever crossing it on a bike.
· Allan Philips – who rode out to the lookout solo without a night light – was escorted back with guys both in front and back of him lighting up the night like he was the grand marshal of the Wednesday night ride.
2. TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN. Well, if there is a food chain, Chuck is now firmly affixed at the top of it. On Saturday, he finished as the top overall in Cat 1 (Not just his age group. Cat 1 overall!!) with a time of 2:18:29 on the 31 mile course. He even beat one of the four pros in the race. Chuck finished 7 minutes up on Peter Tempest (first in Cat 1 50+) who in turn was 13 minutes up on Andy “Bobcat” Stravers who hasn’t touched a bike much lately but nevertheless took up a challenge to duel with Peter in the Squash Blossom Duathlon Omnium (much more on this to follow). You know it was just two years ago when Chuck was a pleasantly plump and completely disoriented guy who cheerfully took a whipping in Cat 1 weekend after weekend. Now Chuck – who hasn’t raced since Mesa Verde in May (That is if you don’t count the McGaffey Challenge and the Care 66 Charity Ride which are both actually harder than anything on the race schedule) – comes out and blows away the whole Cat 1 field at Squash Blossom. My how things have changed.
3. CAT 2 HEATS UP. As predicted there was some great action in Cat 2. Chad was tied down with work, but Dirk Hollebeek went into a frenzy (like when he saw Kevin pulling away on 602) after finishing the family fitness ride with his kids and jumped into the race at the last minute (or did he?) in his T-shirt and shorts. Brian stepped up to challenge Greg Cavanaugh who has thoroughly ruled Cat 2 for several years and even won the state age group points championship a couple of years ago. Brian – who is new to racing – seemed nervous and was trying to downplay expectations before the race but no one was having it, because we all know he is a beast on the bike. At the start, Greg took his rightful place up near the front while Brian meekly went to the back with the women and poachers. Greg held off the new challenger, but not by much. Greg had a strong time of 1:32:41 over the 19 mile course and finished 4th in the loaded 30+ category – one spot ahead of Brian who was just 1:30 back in 5th. Stay tuned on this one guys. It looks like there are a lot of fireworks to come in Cat 2 action. Brian now knows he deserves a spot up near the front. And Dirk? We’re not sure what to say about this one. We have, as usual, wildly conflicting reports, but this time the conflicting accounts are all from Dirk himself and somehow he doesn’t even show up on the final results. Maybe he got sucked into Kevin’s portal?
4. A NEW REIGN OF TERROR? This reporter wasn’t on the scene back in the day when Tim Pikaart was terrorizing the local field, but by all accounts it was pretty brutal. Guys who were part of that era literally shake and grimace when they remember the pain Tim used to inflict on every hill on every training ride back in the day. Well brace yourself; it looks like there is another Pikaart dynasty on the horizon. Tim’s teenage son, Luke, blasted his way to an overall win in Cat 3 with a time of 31:45 on the 7 mile course. And there were several other Rez Dogs with some great results: Jenn Witt won female single speed in 1:50:56 on the 19 mile course; Mona Vining placed first in Cat 3 50+ in 41:18; Mona’s grandson, Sage Allen Stewart, was 3rd out of 12 in Cat 3 U-18 in 34:35; and Holly Herr was 3rd in Cat 2 women 0-49 in 2:02:10.
CONCLUDING QUESTION. So who won the Duathlon duel between Peter and Andy? First a little background: Peter and Andy became only the 2nd and 3rd persons in the 7 year history of the Squash Blossom to compete in the 31 mile bike course and the 13.2 mile trail half marathon and boy did they exceed all expectations. In the half marathon run on Sunday, Andy was the overall winner (that’s right the OVERALL winner in a time of 1:29:58 in a large, talented field) and Peter was 4th overall and first in 50+. Although there is not an official duathlon category or award, this blog has decided to fill that gap (and if we stir the pot a little, so much the better). So who, you ask, is the overall winner? At first blush, Peter is the clear winner. He put 13 minutes on Andy in the bike and Andy put 8 ½ minutes on Peter in the run. Peter wins on combined time. But wait, we never do things the simple, easy way around here. The bike for these guys is a 2 ½ hour race and the run is a 1 ½ hour race. If you weight the respective times for the length of each race (which is only fair), you have a dead heat and that means we have to turn to subjective factors (now were talking!) and make a hard decision (that’s why we get paid the big bucks). The blog has conclusively decided to break the deadlock and name Andy the duathlon champ because he rose to the challenge of adding the bike race to his weekend even though it jeopardized his chances of an overall win in the run. Over a dinner of Chuck’s handmade pizza (add master pizza chef to his job skills list), Andy was awarded a block of green chile peanut brittle for 1st in the Squash Blossom Duathlon Omnium and Peter took home a free life time subscription to RezDogRacing.blogspot.com for 2nd place.