I got ripped out of some vert here! (looking at the file) Wheeler pass is like 12.5 and Boreas Pass is like 11.5 but when I apply elevation correction it gives like 21k climbing for the day...
anyhow, decent day. I was more in survival mode than "Race" mode knowing it was a long day.
- · ~3:5-4hrs for Lap 1
- · 4-4.5hrs lap 2
- · 4.5-5hrs lap 3
So all told, that would have put me anywhere from 12 -13.5 hrs. Honestly, I did much better than my targets – strava has 11:50 moving time and I wasn’t really “racing” until the last stretch up Boreas Pass where I probably passed ~30 ppl all told (seriously – was awesome).
Woke at 4:30 for a 6am start. Had a smoothie (~4-500cal), forgot my beet juice which I’m sure was a difference maker ;) Running late, scramble and forgot to pack my probiotics (!), throw stuff in the car and set up my pit area in a good spot.
Made the decision to wear some mid-weight wool socks and a fall weight base layer as it was in the low 40’s at the start and we’d climb through runoff and snow as we traversed up and over Wheeler Pass at ~12.5k. Followed by a 1/2hr-ish downhill on the West side and a fast bike path ride in the shade.
I lined up at the back of the pack and just tried to keep the effort in z2 – low z3. Did a pretty good job of that, reeled in quite a few people and found a few going at a sane pace.
One thing I did have trouble with and wasn’t expecting was traversing the hillside as we cut across to Wheeler pass. I’d put the pitch of the hill at ~30 degrees and the trail width probably around 8-10 inches. I could not keep my wheel on the path. I think the combination of the ground seeming rather close to your left hand made me want to be on the far right part of the trail – where the right hand side fell away. Odd sensation and I was frequently using my left leg to keep things in perspective. I saw quite a few others with similar issues and both sides of the pass were similar in this aspect, just reversed (duh).
The descent off wheeler pass was loose, rutted and seriously not a lot of fun. I think my rotors/pads were wet as it was tough keeping speeds in check. My lack of climbing prowess had me behind a few less capable descenders but 20 some minutes of riding the brakes, roots, rocks and waterbars had my forearms pumped and my hands sore.
I forgot to shove something in my mouth atop Wheeler and that limited how much I could get down in the 20 min ride to Frisco. The Peaks Trail is fun but you can tell it gets a lot of traffic, pretty uneventful here except that the first mile or two required more effort than I’d anticipated but after that, it’s a nice rolling trail back to Breck.
On the way back to the pit, I saw my wife walking towards the park. Pretty neat. At this point I was slightly ahead of schedule so I caught her by surprise.
Looking at Strava segments, I guestimated 3:50 for this lap and was pretty close to plan all the way around
In the pits I changed socks, baselayer and rid myself of anything extra as there are two pain in the ass climbs and temps were going to be in the 70’s. Plan was to go with water/nuun and solid food
This lap is neat but at the same time it kinda sucks. Lots of climbing, lots of exposure but one kick ass downhill that takes you straight to some soul sucking fireroad climbing. It was the ascent of Little French where I started running into the slow end of the b32 field. Selfishly it sucks getting stuck behind them on the descent but all you can do is give them encouragement as there is no place to pass.
It’s right about here that my nutrition fell apart. I didn’t feel like eating but if there’s any positive it’s that I kept drinking and was on target for a bottle per hour.
Pulling into the pits I see my wife. Here I was hoping she’d tell me it was alright if I didn’t go out for the last lap. Skies were turning dark grey towards the south and it wasn’t so much a question of when it would rain, but how long. I spent 14 minutes psyching myself into finishing. Thankfully Laina had some Tums so I stole a few to help with my queasy stomach.
Thankfully I “ate” a bit better on this lap and was able to make up a fair amount of time on the climb back.
The plan here was to use Carbo Rocket for the initial climb up Boreas Pass and solids afterwards but maybe with some foresight, I filled a second bottle and that came in damn handy.
Maybe 20 minutes out of the pit area, the rain started. Thankfully Boreas Pass is an old railroad route so for better or worse, most of the approaches and parallel routes share a similar relaxed grade. Armed with a “water resistant” jacket which didn’t put up much of a fight, I was seriously cold as I approached the aid station atop the pass. I swear there were intermittent snowflakes as temps were suddently back in the 40’s for the long (loose) descent on Gold Dust. I’ve ridden this trail before and thought it was awesome but this year (perhaps due to the rains?) the upper part was a loose mess. Add in the rain and suddenly it became pretty slippery. Surprisingly I only went down once when I couldn’t ollie over a section of roots. What seemed like an eternity was really like 8 minutes and just like that the rain had stopped and the sun was out. There’s a section in the middle that follows what was probably a flume for probably a mile or so and that was an amazing bobsled like trail. Probably my favorite section of the riding on this day.
From Como it’s roughly 11 miles back to Boreas Pass . Thankfully they had Coke and after chugging three cups I was off. Not long after I’d get my second wind and then decide to do my best “racing” impression. I put the hammer down. Now at this stage in the game the hammer was something around 160-170w but I’d wager that I passed in excess of 30 people in that hour. The hammer ran out of juice about 2 miles from the aid station where I chugged some more coke and used my “mass” to pass even more people as we descended towards Baker’s Tank.
I was pretty worked by this point and more or less simply hanging on for dear life. The last bit of fun is a trail called Aspen Alley. I’d LOVE to go back and do this with a fresh state of mind and body. Check this out.
Anyhow, that’s about the end of the line.
- Chainrings 39/26
- Cassette 11-40
- Front: Ardent Race 2.2 24#
- Rear: Geax AKA 25.5#
- Fuck Yeah socks
What did I do well
- Pacing – I never went “hard” until the last hour or so and had I eaten better…???
- Positive thoughts – Everytime “dark thoughts” entered my head I quickly dismissed them. The only time I had trouble with this was when I thought I was going to die from hypothermia descending Boreas Pass.
- Thanking volunteers – made it a point to thank each volunteer, medic and mechanic at the aid stations
- Encourage other riders – you can tell when people are suffering and sometimes it’s fun to make others suffer when you’re racing but at these kind of events we’re all just looking to survive. I know I helped at least one guy early on
What would I do differently?
- Clothing In hindsight I didn’t need to dress for cold weather, I knew I’d heat up on the climb but I expected the weather to be considerably colder atop Wheeler. I probably wasted 5 minutes changing clothes. Could have used my armwarmers on lap 3 as well.
- Change Chainrings to something easier - I’d thought about this but never made it happen. 36/22 would have been great w/ all the climbing
- Eat better on lap 2 – easier said than done
- Make sure to pack my probiotics – these things are GREAT at chilling out an upset tummy
- Better footbeds (?) – not sure if this would have made any difference really. 12hrs is a long time to be on a bike
- Full-squish – Slap me if I decide to do this race again on a hardtail. At about 10.5hrs in, my core had had enough. This course is chunky enough that I could have used another inch of travel upfront, a bigger rotor and more importanly a coulple of inches of rear travel to help out my legs and back.
I’m honestly not sure I’d do the 100 mile option again. Wheeler pass was a shit show of a descent. Maybe if I could climb faster it would be different (?). Perhaps we can get a relay team together? I’ll do lap 3