Monday, August 3, 2009

Laramie Enduro

67 miles in a little over 7 hours, 57th overall and 19th out of 57 starters in my age group.

The course was pretty cool with a lot of nice variation. Distance wise it was about 1/3 fireroad, 1/3 double track and 1/3 singletrack. Drew, Wedge and I lined up in the back end of the group of 400 racers figuring getting the hole shot in a 7 hour race wasn't a big deal. Wedge hit the early singletrack first and put about ten people between us. I was cold and a bit blind riding into the rising sun so I took it easy on the early one track and Drew got around me as well. When we popped out onto the first 2-track section I could see Drew a bit ahead and Wedge a bit ahead of him. They linked up at the top of the doubletrack and I got caught behind some slow riders on the first descent and I lost sight of them until we hit the long fireroad climb into the wind. They were a couple hundred yards ahead working a 15 rider paceline. I latched on to a clyde and a girl from the open category and we started working together to bridge up. We closed about half the gap by the first aid station where I had to stop and top off my bottle which Drew and Wedge rode through. Luckily for me their paceline was broken up at the aid station and I was able to bridge up by hopping from wheel to wheel of the riders between us. We hit the fun flowy singletrack section together with Drew leading the way when I felt some pee brewing. As we were climbing to the 2nd aid station the pace felt a little high and my bladder needed relief so I pulled off thinking to myself I'll never see them again today. After answering natures call I hopped back on and 1/4 mile latter the trees opened up and there was Drew and Wedge at the aid station. I had just stopped and only needed to fill a bottle while they were shedding layers and answering natures call so I left them thinking I'd just chill on the next climb till they caught back on. Well, it was almost all downhill till the next aid station and I had some quality wheels to suck on the climbs so I started thinking I could hold the gap I opened up. Re-loaded at station 3 and couldn't see them behind me when I left but from there I proceeded to my downfall. I haven't mentioned it yet but it had poured the night before and there was a lot of water on the course. there were countless mud bogs and stream crossings that were anywhere from ankle to near hip deep on me. Every time you approached one of these sections you had to make the call whether to ride them or walk them. I usually erred on the side of caution and walked most of the the ugly looking ones but I was feeling pretty damn cocky after station three and when a stream crossing came up at the bottom of a hill that transitioned to a real steep hill I decided to try to gain some momentum for the climb by riding across the stream. Bad move. I plunged into the stagnant muddy bog at full speed and pedaled like crazy to get through it. I got through but the muddy slop was up to my bottom bracket and my whole drive train was a gloopy mess. I got a few pedal strokes up the hill when my chain sucked into my frame. I pulled it out, remounted and it instantly did it again. I fought with it for a few minutes trying to get it working again while about ten people including Drew passed me. Finally I realized the only way I was going to get it to work again was to hose off the chain with my one and only bottle (I realize now how stupid it was to ride with only one bottle but it seemed like a good weight weenie idea at the time). I prayed the next aid station would be close. It wasn't. I started the climb into a brisk headwind. I had been feeding the whole race but by the top of this climb with no energy drink I was already started feeling a little low on energy. I had some gels with me but was worried about eating one without liquid and kept telling myself the next aid had to be close. About an hour later I pulled into aid station 4 just as Drew was leaving. I hadn't lost much time fighting with my drivetrain but I was pretty tired and in a pretty bad caloric deficit. They had chain lube at the station so I lubed my chain, ate and drank hoping to miraculously get back on track. I didn't, the last 17 miles of the race was by far the most difficult and I was in full on survival mode. I completed the first 50 miles in 4:15, the last 17 in 3:00.

Rhonda has never done any endurance racing before and her longest MTB ride until Laramie had been 50 miles. Her goal going in to the day was just to finish and while I was crossing thigh deep water crossings and suffering up over the last big climb I was worried she wasn't going to make the time cut-offs. Stupid me.... I should have known she was tougher than that. She made the time cut offs with ease, was a little more careful than me on the water crossings and finished with a smile in 8:42. Now that she knows what to expect she's already planning on how to break 8 hours next year.

All in all it was an excellent race. Check in was a breeze, the course was well marked, the aid stations were well stocked and staffed with friendly helpful volunteers and the price was right. I'm spoiled by the world class singletrack in Park City and I'm kind of a snob so I didn't really like a lot of the singletrack sections but that's just me nit picking. My goal was a sub 7 hour time which I missed but I heard the course was slower this year due to the wind and the mud bogs so I'll take it. I will defiantly pencil this race in my calender for future years.


Ski Bike Junkie said...

Nice work. Sounds like a fun event.

29er said...

Way to go you guys! That is a long time to be riding and those creek crossings sound pretty scary to me.

Andy H. said...

Luckily in the creek crossings the water was stagnet and not fast flowing so they were more annoying than scary. Very annoying I should say.