Saturday, April 2, 2011
Warrior Creek, 2011
I decided to race Warrior Creek because I heard it is a fantastic event (and I can confirm that); however, the weather leading up to the race (mucho rain) was pretty daunting. I decided not to go with my faster rolling wheels (WTB Wolverine/Maxxis Larsen combo), and instead go with Nevegals (front and back), which ended up being a good choice. I was not going to let being sick all week with a cold (stuffed up, cough...) keep me from this event so off I went. We arrived in the area on Friday and rode a small section of the course and it was a bit slick, but tacky and not bad. It then poured that night (making for a bad nights sleep...in a tent...cold...raining...coughing...forgot my memory foam pillow...geese mating or fighting right outside) anyway, I was pretty happy to have some good gripping, mud-slingin' tires (and a 32:18 gear ratio).
The first lap of the race was a mess for your weekend warrior, types. The start took us for ~1.5 miles on paved road through the campsite to help spread out the riders. While this was better than nothing, so many racers ended up stuck on each others tires for miles. Stop and go/walk and go was the theme for lap one. Plus, being on a single-speed and being stuck behind geared bikes made it tough trying to keep momentum up hills while gearies are letting their bikes slow to match their gear choice. After about 8-9 miles I found myself with a decent group that would keep me from blowing up and I ended up riding with them until one of the guys in front took another guy out by wrecking in the rocks past mile 11. If I had been following too closely I would have been in a 3 bike pile up, as it was, I cleared them and found some space for the start of lap 2.
Wow, I just went from major traffic to trail Nirvanah! The temp. had risen and the trail was already in better shape. I found myself riding all alone for almost 3 miles (or at least not inhibited). I passed a few riders and really began enjoying the stress free environment. Eventually some guys did come up behind me, and I stuck with them as long as I dared, but my goal was to ride consistently for at least three laps and then see what was left in the tank/legs. So I kept to riding within myself and eventually hooked up with another rider that was going my pace.
I had finished my bottle of Perpetuem and a bottle of NUUN and our wonderful pit crew (Vanessa) handed me off some more NUUN. By mile 2 I started to feel sick...like "I need to puke" sick. I sipped on my water when I had the chance and kept going...feeling like if I did throw up, it would not affect my legs, and maybe help me in the long run (errr, ride). Did not end up puking, but the stomach issues stayed with me even for a bit after the race. I felt like I was going pretty good this lap. The trail was even more improved, and I was making it up sections that earlier were to muddy and causing me to spin out. Then it happened. Just past mile 9 I started to feel the onset of cramps. I did what I could to fight them off, but I had to get off the bike twice over the last two miles (to push up a switchback climb) as my left leg was quivering. Still, I had plenty of energy and could spin well, I just couldn't work too hard mashing up a climb...so bring on lap 4.
Grabbed a bottle of 4:1 Energy for my last lap to help with the cramping, but unfortunately they were not getting any better. I rode as fast as I could where the trail dictated it, and rather than working hard up hills, I would grind up them, using just my body weight on the pedals to inch up (still faster then pushing) but I did get off the bike (a lot) to keep from locking up. I counted over the 12 miles of the final lap, getting off the bike exactly 12 times. By the time I hit the 9th mile marker I was fight cramps in both legs, and in various areas of each leg. Still, I could fly on the downhill berms and clear the rocks cleanly so I worked as hard as I could to get that last lap in, but finished at 5:40...ten minutes too late to go out for a 5th lap.
Realized after the race that I mixed nearly 5 hrs worth of Perpetuem in my bottle...stomach was rejecting all the concentrated protein. Gonna try to tweak my nutrition for the next race with a lot less protein and a lot more carbs (Heed?).
I honestly believe that if the trail was in peak condition, cramps would have held off longer and the laps would have been faster...likely leading to five laps. As it was, I rode ~49.5 miles in ~5:40 and my time was good enough for 13th in the 40+ division. So, all my goals at the onset of this race were met: don't get hurt, don't have a race-ending mechanical issue, don't embarrass yourself. EDIT: Just saw the final standings had me at 14th in 5:43. Guess I should have waited to see the final results as I could have protested...the clock clearly stated 5:40 when I crossed. Oh well, it really does not matter. The prize for 14th is the same as the prize for 13th. :)
Looking forward to next year.
NOTE: An amazing rider, (Kelly K.) asked me to be a part of the TFKT-Trips for Kids Team, so He, Jeff (another amazing rider) and I (not nearly as amazing) were riding with our TFKT Jerseys to represent a great cause. Kelly ended up 5th in SS for a race that was not part of his scheduled race plan, and Jeff ended up 3rd (podium spot baby!) in the 40+ division...on his rigid single speed (and a massive wreck on lap 5). Great Job Team!
A quick "Great Job" to Cory, who I drove up with. He completed three laps for his first ever 6hr race. he could have done one more but I guess he did not want to show off. Nice effort Cory!
Posted by James at 8:40 PM