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Monday, 11 May 2015

Spring 8 Hour MTB Relay Race - Review

So it is Monday morning as I write this, two days after the race...I still hurt.  This was one of the toughest races I have ever done...second only to tag-teaming 24 hour races (which I swear I will never do again).  Combine the unseasonable heat, the unrelenting climbs, the sand, the rough rooty descents, and choosing to race single-speed solo = alot of ouchie!!!

Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself...let's start at the beginning to better understand my whining...

Giant and I left early Saturday morning for Mansfield, but our electric conversation had me miss the 410 ramp off the we had to take the loooong way, getting us to Mansfield with barely enough time to get registered, get the pit set up and get to the start paddock with minutes to go before the start.  Which means we were at the back of the paddock.  Which meant....once we got was an excrutiatingly slooooowwwww start.  Probably not a big deal over an 8 hour day, but knowing that your competition could potentially have at least an automatic 10 minute lead on you can be a little disconcerting.  I know I need every break I can get!

One of my goals for the day was to keep up to serious, who was also solo singlespeeding.  Tall order, knowing he kicked my butt in the O'Cup last weekend.  And if he was in the front of this start group, I was already hooped.  This is serious in the paddock...far left, with the evil smile...

Also with me in the paddock (at the back...did I mention that??), were some of the members of the Rock & Road Race team...who once again offered to share their pit with me (Thank you!!).  This included misconceptionz who was also racing solo singlespeed, but he was at a bit of a disadvantage...he had broken a toe earlier in the week.  This is an actual real pic, but close your eyes and scroll down if you don't want to see's kind of gross...

Dude is tougher than he looks!!

Blaze and Fig of the R&R team were also in the paddock with me, each racing solo (geared bikes).  Their disadvantage was they yap too much...otherwise their fitness and skill should have them beating me.

It was already blazing hot was going to be a sweltering day.  Anyways, the horn sounded and we were off....slowly....behind 200ish other racers; grinding up the start hill.  misconceptionz and Giant managed to pass a bunch of riders and get further towards the front.  Someone in front of me couldn't grind it up the hill, and came off their bike to walk...holding everyone behind back.  Blaze and Fig were behind me...yapping.

About this start hill.  I'ts a sandy fireroad (about 12 feet wide)'s not that steep of a hill, but it's long.  I'ts not so much of a challenge for the first 3 or 4 laps...but after that it begins to suck the energy from your legs, the oxygen from your lungs, and your soul from your soul-living-place (wherever that is).  It bobs up and up through the trees, opens up to the sandiest steepest bit out in the sun where the heat reflects up off the sand just to burn you that extra little bit before it crests and you get a few meters of flat respite before it dumps into singletrack.

Of course, on this start lap the group bottlenecks going into this singletrack...Blaze and Fig still yapping behind me.  We eventually (slowly, slooooowwwwwllllly) make it through the first bit of single track and open into some double track where I have an opportunity to make some passes and get out ahead of many riders....and a little more into some almost open space.  I lose Blaze and Fig's voices somewhere behind me.

As the lap continues, I realize how much climbing there is.  A couple of very steep climbs that would be walked by singlespeeders (or at least by me)....and many, many gut busting climbs.   Climbs that had to have downs, of course....and most of the downs were technical, rough, rooty, but killers on the hands, shoulders, and neck/back.  This was going to be tough...

There was a long doubletrack descent...not rooty but rough packed dried the middle of the lap, just before the feedzone...I tried to take a drink at this point.  In the jolting roughness while speeding downhill I dropped my waterbottle.  Damn, I only had one, thinking that one bottle would get me through two laps, and I could switch bottles every two laps as I passed our pit.  So first lap with no water/food/electrolytes (all in the bottle), in this heat.  I did grab a new bottle on my way by the pit.  After the solo pit zone was another loooooong grinding false flat climb....followed by the wall of pain (yeah...that was the actual name of the hill)....a very steep double track wide climb that crested into Oxygen Debt....a twisty multi stage climb....yeah....all great on a single speed (can you hear the sarcasm???).

Then the course led into exit wound....I had heard about exit wound but never ridden it.  A bit of a fun couple of rooty drops...whipped into a sandy switchback, then immediately into a right switch back.


The switchback was SO tight!!  With a sheer drop off the left edge.  I'm sure I saw this over the side out of the corner of my eye!!

Anyways...note to a little careful here as the day goes on, and fatigue sets in.

Then the course dropped into the start-finish transition area.  Lap one done....mostly out of the crowd of riders.  An opportunity to let it out a bit more on lap 2.  And I did...I think.  During lap 2 I found the waterbottle I dropped in lap 1!!  I slowed to scoop it up....gladly giving up a couple of seconds to retrieve fluids and nutrition.

There were a couple of fun spots on the course where there were opportunities to catch some air and almost feel good about oneself.  In fact Ted of ApexRacePhotography was perfectly positioned at a couple of them.  Looking forward to the pics!!  May have to do a mid-week post of pics!  (Ted can you photoshop one of me passing serious???)

Anyways, for the first couple of laps I bypassed the mid-course feedzone without grabbing the water they were handing out...but as the day, the effort, and the heat wore on I looked forward to grabbing that paper cup of cold water on the way by.  Besides...I'm pretty sure the volunteer staff at the feedzone went from this.... this.... the day wore on.  Could have just been my delerium....likely was...

Anyways....finished lap 2.  On up the silly start hill for lap 3...was passing thedumbopinion (yes, nickname self imposed) at the hot sandy top of the climb when he passed on some bad news.  Apparently Blaze had crashed hard on one of the steep rooty downs (the one on the Happy Trail...really), and had walked out with medical staff with what appeared to be a serious collarbone/shoulder injury.  As it turned out, it was his wrist...and it was serious.  Here is the actual x-ray of his wrist...close your eyes and scroll down if you don't want to see's kind of gross......

I don't have actual pics of Blaze's crash but he says it was something like this...

Here is a real pic of Blaze after his hospital visit, with his wrist splinted, (he is scheduled for surgery today - Monday- dude is tougher than he looks!!), pain dulled from self medication, playing with a lost puppy....

Anyways...into lap 3 passed 14Stone, who was racing solo...then up and through the middle course climbs....catching my breath when a rider comes up behind me and says "C'mon solo....pick up the pace."  I though...."Huh?...I thought I was..."  And John (of R&R team) whipped past me laughing...haha...funny...not.

John is one of the fastest mtber's around....and was tag teaming with JeffS...also one of the fastest gents on a bike...these guys should do some damage in the tag team category.

So finished lap 3, got through lap 4.

misconceptionz was in the pit mid-lap 4....resting his was starting to bother him (I think it was more that he was upset that I was lapping him...).  No, it was his foot.  Dude is tougher than he looks.

Onto lap 5...up the stupid start hill...through the mid course climbs...things were really starting to hurt.  Legs and back from the climbing, hands and shoulders from the rooty downs....the heat and dehydration.  Somewhere mid-lap 5 I was lost in my suffering when from behind .... "MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKE.....YOU'RE AWESOOOOOME!!!!!!!!!!!".  Scared the hell out of me!  I may have peed a little (OK that may be more age and fatigue related...).  It was JeffS whipping past me.  All I thought was....hey...JeffS thinks I'm awesome.  Yup....him and John would do some damage.

Lap 6, fricken punishing start hill.  I was seriously hurting.  Mid course, right inner quad muscle started to cramp...intense burning pain.  Stretching while riding....forcing the muscle to work through the cramp!  Try to drink and eat as much as possible while riding.  Pass the solo pit area...several riders were packing up...having quit.  And there was 14Stone sitting with a beer in his hand.  Apparently, he cooked his rear hub, and was done after 5 laps.  Too bad...dude is a serious competitor.  I loaded up on more food and water at the pit...there was misconceptionz...he was done too.  His foot was too painful.

So I struggle through lap 6, fighting the cramp...into lap 7...the right quad still on the edge of cramping again...twitching as I rode...especially following every climb.  I seriously thought I would have to pack it in.  Finished 7, there was Duke in the transition area chatting.  He was racing solo....but had quit after 6 laps.  Duke never quits....he solo's 24 hour races.  But the heat and dehydration had gotten to him.  I thought...well, let's see if I can survive an 8th off I went...fighting every foot of that start hill...

Again the cramps attacked on lap 8....I thought I was seriously done.  My body was rejecting all food and liquid....but I forced myself to eat and drink.  Again, working through the cramps while riding.  Don't dare to  stop while cramping...would mean locking up completely.

Finished lap 8...standing in the start zone considering calling it a day.  Then serious came through transition, dancing like Ali before a fight....looking fresh as a spring daisy...that evil smile...he had lapped me.  He had 9 laps in.  DAMMIT!  I had to do another lap...

So off for lap 9....barely making the start hill...but as the lap wore on, actually started to feel better...the cramp had disappeared or I just stopped feeling it.  Many riders, solo and teams, had the course was much more open.  But the hands and shoulders were taking a pounding....and had to remind myself to stay aware on the rooty downs, and on exit wound switchback...

Finished 9...decided to make it an even 10.  Set out for 10.  F#$%!n start hill!!  Finished 10....I was toast.  But actually had enough time to get an 11th lap in.  However, a quick look at the results screen showed me that I was in 5th place, and 4th was too far ahead for me to catch in the time remaining, and was two laps ahead of 6th place.  I was done.  Holy shite....done.  Relief...

serious came in 2nd....2nd only to Dermont The God of Singlespeed!!!  Well done serious!!  He destroyed me....this time...

John and JeffS ended up second in their cat, 16 total laps!!!...short of first by only 5 minutes, a full lap ahead of 3rd.

Giant came in 4th in his cat with 12 laps.  Well done!!!

I think Oggie was somewhere in this race too...hidden in the feathery shadows of some easy, peasy 4 person team.  Actually, his 4 person team came in 1st in their cat...apparently 4 fast guys getting in a total of 15 laps.

No Unglued, and no NewfieSteve, or EnglishJim at this race...maybe the next one???

What is the next one??  Next weekend, SubstanceProject's Long Sock Classic in Ganaraska Forest Centre.  70kms of more sandy climbing.


Stay posted!!

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