Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sagebrush Safari 50 - HOT! - PART I

Staying in the shade as long as possible
prior to start. (Thanks to Pink Shorts Photography)
Back to racing bikes, sort of...someone thought a 50 mile mountain bike race on a single speed was a good idea. If I find him, there will be a price to pay!

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going into this event and it was not because I had any delusions of winning or even the podium, more so it was the fact that my travel/work schedule has not been so kind to any type of consistency on the bike. The last time I was on a mountain bike was early April and that was a ride on some type of mountain bike I found in the Vail garage.

I love riding my Spot Rocker SS, it has given me a new appreciation for the dirt and suffering, so I was looking forward to riding, but seriously doubting 50 miles on the single speed with some considerable climbing.

Another major factor hit me right in the face the moment I stepped out of the car at the race start area, holy heat! It was already 80 degrees at 9:00am and the sun was not hiding behind any clouds at any point during the day.

I changed some of the game plan I had drawn up in my head on the drive to the race venue, and was now going to carry a camelback full of water in addition to the bottle on the frame. I am mortified of dehydration and this course took us pretty far out into no mans land; no reason to skimp on the hydration in favor of comfort and speed, this was going to be a day of simply survival.

I have been using the Skratch Labs drink mix for the last few months and have found a cure for my stomach issues and constant 'gut rot' when trying to stay hydrated with Gatorade. I've gone back to the basics on everything from the drink to getting most of my on bike calories from real solid foods, no more gels, chewys, cubes, energy bars, etc.

After getting everything prepared and doing some warm up spinning of the legs, I hung out in the shade near the start till the last possible moment.

The race started with about 2 miles on paved road and did not start climbing until the last half mile; so, with the mass start, the main field of 50-milers with gears disappear rather quickly while the handful of single speed bikes spun along at the back. Once the road kicked up I was able to surge ahead of most of the SSers and pick off some of the stragglers from the main pack and hit the first single track section in a good position.

The first loop was a blast with some great moto-style bank turns, pump tracks, a cool rock climb and a fast decent to the hike-a-bike climb out. I sat in good position with very few riders around me; I liked my pace and was setting up to learn the course and get through the first lap without burning too many matches. I came through the feed zone for the first time and decided to stop to top off my bottle as I had no clue how long I would be out on the next loop up and around Los Pinos mountain.

On the climb up Los Pinos I caught up to the second place SSer and rode with him for a bit; he was much more daring and agile on the decent so he got a gap back, but I was happily pedaling along in 3rd place, half expecting to be caught by another SS...this was not about the podium, just survival and completing the 50 miles.

I got back to the feed zone feeling a little cooked from the heat and first lap effort and now having a full understanding of what another full two loop lap was going to take. I topped off the bottle, grabbed a few fig newtons and took off again...PART II coming soon

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