Thursday, June 26, 2014

RME: Indian Creek Race Report by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

Last year I did the RME Indian Creek race and had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. This year I went in with both eyes-wide open... Last year I did a single loop and it was the longest duration race of the year and a close second for most vertical, behind only a race at Winter Park. It's steep... there's more hike-a-bike in a single lap of IC than all other mtb events I've ever done combined - it's the real deal.

This year the distances were changed -- XC was 32 miles instead of 18 in 2013. I've made the conscious decision to structure my training around events around 2 hours and shorter for a couple reasons... all I ***really*** care about is cross and CX events are 60 minutes or less, work/family/training balance and I greatly prefer a 90 minutes hard as hell ride over 4 hours of zone 2. Even if I could replicate my average speed from 2013, over the longer course I knew I was looking at 4 hours. Knowing the demands of the event weren't a match for my preparation I put more than usual thought into my nutrition plan and pacing. I was carrying a pack with a 70 oz bladder and I also had a large bottle - both with Skratch. I prepared my favorite riding foods and had some with me and some in the pit -- fig bars and 4 x pb&j on mini-bagels.

As the race started I was doing all I could to hold back. I'd set a heart-rate cap for the first hour -- 160 bpm, which is low threshold for me. Sticking with my cap I was towards the back of the group towards the end of the first climb but I was good with that. I was starting to make some passes and move forward. I passed three riders right before a technical descent. It was a steep V-shaped ditch. I made it about half-way down it before my front tire got caught on the edge. It spun me around and I went flying into a pine tree. Fortunately the tree wasn't too large, maybe 2' in diameter. Despite going off to the right of the trail my left side took the worst of it, landing on my left hip and triceps. My glasses were also torn off my face taking a thin dime sized piece of skin off my nose with them -- no biggie but your head/face tend to be big bleeders. As Jon mentioned, the other racers were very considerate. All three of the riders I'd just passed slowed to check on me -- and double-check to make sure it wasn't just a reflexive answer.

As I got back on the bike I was able to ride fine, my hip was a bit sore, but I felt like I wasn't risking injury by continuing on. I did however feel completely rattled - my confidence was gone. I was riding tentative and instead of it resulting in safer riding, I was riding horribly, it was a shit-show. About the same time I started to get a migraine headache, or at least the precursor of one, a visual aura. My vision was crap - I basically couldn't see anything right of center clearly. I was in the middle of nowhere -- only way home was onwards. I continued on but slowed my pace with the hope that the aura would clear and I'd avoid the other symptoms of a migraine -- crushing headache, nauseousness, light sensitivity, etc. By the time I made it to the pit area, finishing the small loop, I was feeling better. My vision was back to normal and after drinking a quick bottle and eating a snack I was back on the bike for the big loop. I'd resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't my day and that I was participating instead of competing.

After another climb there was a fun section through the trees and then a narrow loose descent. I was still riding tentatively and I pulled off and let a guy pass me on the descent -- first time I've ever done that... I came around a corner and next thing I knew I was flying through the air sans bike. I hit a rock in the middle of the trail that I never saw coming. This spill scraped up my knees, belly and elbow. The wound on my elbow was the worst - dripping blood but not painful. Yet again, I was in the middle of nowhere, so I had no choice but to ride on. I picked myself up and found the rock that I'd hit. I tossed it off the side of the hill and cursed at it. It was about that time that I realized I didn't know where my bike was... after searching for a couple seconds I found it, it had flown off the side of the hill and was 20' down wedged into a bush. I clearly recall laughing to myself about this situation.

I made it to the bottom of the descent without further incident and as soon as the course flattened out -- POW! My quads and hamstrings started cramping. I got off the bike, sat on the ground for a second and took a moment to regroup. I took a couple extra long drinks and ate a snack and shortly I strangely felt really good. I rode to the next aid station up a nasty climb. I took a long stop there to get the elbow bandaged up and fill bottles, etc. I knew I was still 90 minutes from the finish minimum but there was no 'effing way I was going to get a ride out from the rangers when I was capable of riding so, onwards.

At this point I'm still riding like shit, tentative and making stupid mistakes seemingly on every obstacle. I eased up, called it a workout and made my way to the finish for 22nd in my age group, out of 26 finishers. After getting home and cleaned up I followed the advice of the paramedic who'd bandaged my elbow and went to urgent care to get it looked at. The doctor gave me the option of stitches or steri-stripes as it was more of a gash than a laceration, I choose steri-strips. On the positive side, I'll be riding later today and I don't think I'll have any lingering issues from Saturday.

For those keeping score at home... Indian Creek: 2, Kirk: nil.

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