Saturday, April 14, 2012

2012 Meltdown at Harris Lake -- 6 Hour Race

Note: the race was rain delayed to April 14th
What a fantastic day to ride your bike on a windy, twisty, slippery, rooty loop, over and over… for ~6 hours. 
This 6 hr. race at Harris Lake was a special one.  Not because I was feeling good (though I was) and not because I did well (though I did), but because it will likely be my last TORC endurance event with many of the riders I met when I began racing in 2009.  The course was well laid out (Thanks to Steve, John, Matt and yours truly) and the weather was spot on perfect!  I chose to race my last local event in the Single Speed class (which would come back to haunt me), even though I could have raced 40+.  Because I am known for riding a SS, it seemed like a fitting way to end my last local event. 
And we’re off!  The race started well with surprisingly less bottle-necking than I expected.  I followed my usual strategy of going out a bit fast the first lap and letting the momentum of other riders carry me through for a bit.  One thing I did differently this time was I tried to keep up my momentum (faster pace) longer than usual.  I felt good and wanted to test my endurance and recovery with a quicker pace, and what do you know, I was able to hang in there, well, for 6+ laps anyway.  I even caught up to and rode ~ a lap and a half with Jeff Dennison who is a class above me (literally and figuratively) until that 6th lap. I did not really hit the wall, but I lost power/strength and slowed down over many areas of the course. My laps went from ~34 to 36 minutes for laps 1-6, to ~39-41 minutes for laps 7 through 9 (not a dramatic drop, but certainly less consistent).  I also started cramping during lap 6 and it came on hard during 7 - 9.  I was glad I was able to fight through it and keep riding, as I will need to do that for PMBAR in three weeks.  One strategy I tried to implement, even when my legs had lost their power, was the mental game.  It is so easy during a race to just go slow when you legs are shot.  I knew this course well enough to know that there are many spots to gain a lot of speed and keep a lot of momentum if you pedal with a fast cadence and just keep pedaling.  Sure, I suffered, but I was able to not loose dramatic time by keeping mentally alert and taking advantage of maximizing speed where the trail would allow it.  I passed a lot of riders those last few laps using this technique.
Interestingly, when I came across the line to start lap 9, I noticed that my last lap was ~41 minutes.  There was ~39-40 minutes until the cut-off.  I knew that there would be a good chance I would just miss the cutoff for another lap, and believe me, I was glad to miss it.  Sure, if I reeeeally needed to, I could have Hardened The  #$@%  Up and done one more, but with some home construction on Sunday, A “Rugged Maniac” mud run next Saturday and a 100 mile ride next Sunday, I was ready to start my recovery.
In all I completed 9 laps in ~5:36 for a total of ~60 miles.  That was good enough for only 5th place in the Single Speed category.  IF I had registered for 40+, I would have been on the podium at 2nd place.  Still, it ain't nuthin' but a thing.  I had a great race and a great time.
Photos courtesy of 'Melissa's Dad'.
Thanks 'Melissa's Dad'. :)
Thanks again to Steve Rodgers and all the Volunteers (myself included…yes I just thanked myself) for the efforts to make this event  happen.  The local series (XC and 6 hr) have been a big part of my life over the last three years and have kept me motivated to keep riding.  This is something I will truly miss.

Note: Many interesting stories in this race.  Like the gal who showed up having never raced before and killed it!  But one of the most interesting was this guy I had just passed who bit it hard.  His bike flipped to the side after what looked like hitting a root just wrong, and he seemed to flip over twice and slide along the ground while tangled in his bike.  It all happened so fast but I was like, "Dude, you o.k.?" He replies, "It wasn't as bad as it looked." Of course he knew it looked bad, and he said this while grimacing while still on the ground tangled in his bike.  So I said, "Well it did look bad..." and something like See ya, or Gotta Run. And before you crucify me for not stopping to help, he did get back up and keep riding. After the race I found him and asked how he felt.  I pointed out I was the guy who was next to him when he bit it.  He asked me, "Which time?".  Turns out he went down, hard, four times.  He was scraped and bleeding from both arms and both legs, in numerous place.  But he only had to fix his bike once, and he kept riding.  That guy deserves an HTFU award!


  1. Great writeup and Awesome Job with 9 laps!! What's all this talk about it being your "last" endurance local event? Are you moving away or dying or something?

    1. Yes, Laura, I have only ~3 months to live.....

      In NC.

      We are planning on moving back to California this summer, so I am really trying to enjoy my time here as much as I can as things will be different in CA. Not bad, in fact, the riding will be very good, but still different. I will definitely miss it here. :(

  2. Oh man. That's a shame...I am sure that the riding will be amazing there though! I have to get that GSO Endurance ride going then so you can add one more enjoyable memory to your NC time here.