I did the 8 hour version of the Coolest 24 in Cool, CA back in May. I misjudged my nutrition requirements and bonked at around hour 5. I was able to complete another lap around hour 6, but I had a terrible day and felt certain that it was due to my nutrition.
I rode sweep for the Nevada City Endurance Ride, also in May. 50 miles on the singlespeed and I was very careful with my nutrition. I assumed they wouldn’t have any vegan sandwiches so I packed some baked tofu with me. I had a great ride, I was only suffering for about 20 minutes of my 8 hours and felt considerably better at the end than I had expected to. Not to mention I raised almost $500 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
I’ve heard that Tour de France riders will eat big fatty baked goods during the race to make sure they get enough calories. I thought that this was a wonderful idea so while in Oregon we made sure to stock up on vegan baked goods. We went by Voodoo Doughnut in Portland and I bought a big bag of day old vegan donuts for $5. Score. My wife went by a bakery in Eugene and picked up some vegan cinnamon rolls. I also went Wild Oats and picked up some baked tofu, tofu jerky and Odwalla protein shakes. I had brought up with me a big bag of Bumble Bars (one of our team’s sponsors) and Gu packets.
I had a very good training schedule this past winter to early spring. I’d done some big rides, but none longer than 8 hours or longer than 50 miles. Life has gotten in the way over the past month or so and I’ve had less opportunity to do any dedicated training. The 10 mile roundtrip to work with 800 ft of climbing on the singlespeed road bike doesn’t hurt though.
We flew to Portland on Thursday night and soon found ourselves at Dot’s eating a fine dinner with friends. Dave (half of a married couple we were staying with in Portland) and I went out for beer around 11:30 pm to the Horse Brass Saloon. We played darts for a few hours and drank a number of pints, the highlight being the Lagunitas Brown Shugga. I think the term I kept using was “knock your dick in the dirt”… We made it back to his house at 4 am, a bit tipsy.
Up at 9 am for a leisurely bike ride around town with my wife, Dave and his family. I felt like shit.
Dave and I drove down to Oakridge on Saturday around 10am.
Caught up with a friend who works at the Willamette Mercantile and headed over to the middle school to pick up my bike. A friend, fellow competitor, and fellow Nevada City resident brought up my bike and race gear. Big thanks Debra!
Dave and I rode the Larison Rock trail. The gravel road climb took a few hours, my heart rate never rose above 130, and the descent took less than 20 minutes. I felt great after this, my legs were responding properly (no cob webs), I was breathing great, felt good about my tire choice and the bike was working perfectly.
We met up with our wives, I took a quick swim in the pool and we rushed back to the middle school for the race meeting scheduled for 6:30 pm.
I had spoken to Scott (the promoter) earlier in the day about dinner and was told that the dinner was cheese lasagna with the option of meat balls. Bummer for the vegan racer. Because of this we had decided to go to the Trailhead café after the race meeting. Honestly, I was a little impatient and annoyed waiting for the race meeting to start. The race meeting started an hour late and was very thorough. We left early, during the raffle, to make it to the Trailhead Café before they closed. Had a yummy pasta with tempeh and a beer. Good race food.
Got back to the hotel around 10:00 and got all my shit together for the race. In bed at 11:30, about 4 ½ hours before I planned to get up.
A light sleep with dreams of arriving at the race late (this is usually how I sleep before a race) ended at 4:00 when I got up, showered, shaved the legs again and caught a ride to school from Dave. I had time to slam a coffee and eat a little of my cinnamon roll.
I rode over to the covered bridge to check in and get my oh-so-uncritical start position. Met a fellow Organic Athlete rider at the start, Jon. Gotta know your allies. My friend Debra came up to me and asked how I felt. “Nauseous,” I said.
The pavement roll-out started and I started picking off a few slow rolling people, started looking around for people I might recognize and tried to relax and control my breathing. We hit the gravel road and I kept my eyes glued to my heart rate and cadence. My plan was to keep my HR below 160 and my cadence between 60 and 80 for as long as possible. Up to Aid Station 2 the group thinned out a bit, I passed people, people passed me. Past Aid Station 2 on the faster part of gravel to Aid 3 and onto the little single track loop. The sun was still low so it was hard to see some of the rocks and narrow sections of the trail so I took it slow. Back to AS3 and up the singletrack. Middle ringed it up with a few people stuck to me. I caught my friend Debra and she let our little train by. One stayed with me on the descent back to AS2. We chatted a bit on the way down, he was a nice fella from Bend. I let him by below AS2 so I could eat the final bit of my cinnamon roll. Never saw him again, he was fast.
I was running a little low on food and water and had decided to stop at AS1 and refuel before heading back up that long climb. Though my fork had too much air in it and was only moving from big hits, I had a great descent. I arrived at AS1 feeling great with a big grin, in fact, feeling so good I forgot to stop for water and fuel.
Lap 1 in 3:53. Average speed: 8.8 mph. Average HR: 148. Maximum HR: 175. Average Cadence: 69.
After climbing the gravel road for about 30 minutes I realized what a tragic mistake I had made by not getting water. It was getting pretty hot, I was still wearing a long sleeve jersey and I had started rationing my water…. I started looking around at riders, most were passing me at this point, to figure out who I could ask for water. I took my helmet off and put it on my bars to try to keep my body heat down. I pulled out my spicy soy jerky and started chewing on that. I was hoping the spiciness of it was make my mouth water and I’d be less thirsty. No go. About half way up the climb I saw the Organic Athlete rider on the side of the road and said to him “you look weak, you need to eat some meat.” This seems to be a favorite joke made by omnivores, so I’m taking it. He climbed back on his bike and rode beside me. I asked if he had a spare water bottle, he told me he didn’t like the GU20 and handed it to me. The bottle slid around in my hand, it was covered in a big loogey. We chatted on the way up and I tried to help him diagnose a chain skipping problem.
I pulled away from him after a while. I rotated between seated climbing and standing. I usually ride a singlespeed and am comfortable standing climbing. By this point my feet were killing me. My new shoes, not completely broken in, were too tight on my toes and my feet felt awful, like my shoes were made out of a bed of nails. Fun stuff! By the time I reached AS2 I was completely out of water.
My crew were now at AS2 and were ready to support me.
I got all new waters, GU20, ate a block of tofu (btw, I was rocking out to This Bike is a Pipe Bomb’s “Eat a Block of Tofu” on one of the climbs), downed some Odwalla shake, dumped the long sleeve jersey took a few Advil. I got my chain lubed, adjusted my shock and headed up the road.
I was looking forward to this second section because I knew I could big ring a lot of it and it was finally getting less crowded, the group was thinning.
I got to AS3, ate some watermelon and oranges, and headed out on the little singletrack loop. The sun was higher by now and I could see the trail very well, I made much better time. Watermelon burps taste good, they’re kinda creamy! Back to AS3, up the singletrack and I bombed down to AS2 and my friends. I got some more supplies, and headed down to AS1, passing people along the way.
Lap 2 in 4:47 (actually a little less, I hit the lap button a few miles late) Average speed: 7.1 mph. Average HR: 145. Maximum HR: 170. Average Cadence: 61.
Lap 2 was definitely slower than the first.
At AS1 I got plenty of water, even and extra one in my jersey pocket. Took my shoes off and stretched on the grass. Back on the climb I made sure to drink plenty of water, eat when I wasn’t hungry and pour water over my head. This was working well until I realized I was running out of water again. Damnit! About 3 ½ miles up the climb I thought I saw a guy standing next to his car under a pop-up tent. I asked him if he was real, he said yes, and I just blurted out “magical!” He filled me up with water and I headed up to AS2. I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed as I pulled away. Here he was, this angel of water, right when I needed him. People can be so good to each other sometimes, right when they need it most, almost gives me hope for our species.
At AS2 I dumped my mp3 player and most of my food with my friends, lubed the chain again and told them they could head back to the school and that I wouldn’t be stopping on my way down. Popped two more Advil before I put my shoes back on and hit it.
My plan had been to ride the first two laps conservatively and go as hard as I could on the third.
I stood a lot up to AS3, big ringed it as much as possible and just went hard. Oh, I should mention, back at AS2, I downed a beer with the Advil. It tasted great, but, about 20 minutes later, climbing up to AS3, I started feeling weird and my vision got blurry. I figured the best way to cure that was a Gu packet and some water. It worked and by the time I hit AS3 I was feeling better. I ate some more oranges and watermelon. Some older fella on a Salsa 29er stopped for maybe 30 seconds and was gone. Shit, I can’t let that happen, I gotta go too. Off I went. I caught him on the climb and he was very courteous and let me by. I flew down the descent down to AS2. My descent down to AS1 was the fastest of all and I just kept passing people until I heard someone come up on me right before the finish.
I head him skidding down, catching me. I got a little scared because the last ½ mile is gravel road and I knew it would end in a sprint if he caught me. I can’t sprint for shit. I poured it on to stay in front of him, I dropped him a little bit, but I think he figured it wasn’t worth it to try to sprint me out at the end. Little did he know…
Got to the finish just a bit in front of him (he was dressed in a full Felt kit), was given my finisher’s hat and I was done.
It seems that though my third lap wasn’t my fastest, it was better than a lot of peoples. My third lap is when I passed the most people.
Back at the school I showered and got my massage. The massage was much appreciated and I am very glad to have had it. My friends had gotten me some lunch from the Trailhead Café and I devoured it on the way back to Portland.
I felt better after the race then I did on Friday morning after drinking all night. In fact I havnt’ felt too bad since the race. I’ve been tired and hungry and a little sore but not paralyzed like I expected. I didn’t cramp once, no mechanicals, no flats, I never had to walk a section because I was tired. A very successful race in my opinion. My first interest in this “race” was to survive it, but now I could actually imagine racing the damn thing. I’ve never spent 13 hours on the bike before and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I’m hooked.
I stole this picture from Sasquatch over at MTBR.com.
I owe Erin, Dave, Minah & Miso a big thanks! I couldn't have done it without them :)