Sunday, July 27, 2014

Laramie Enduro

By Jon Maule (@jonmaule)
July 26, 2014
My last few races haven’t gone quite how I wanted but were (generally) fun nonetheless.  I lucked into an entry to the 2014 edition of the Laramie Enduro when my massage therapist decided that she was no longer interested in racing.  Going into this race, basically all I knew was that people generally liked it and that it generally sells out quickly.  Covering ~68miles and with ~7k vert I knew this wouldn’t really be kind to me but some cyber stalking led me to think I could very reasonably finish around 7hrs with a stretch goal of 6.5hrs.

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Everyone I asked said not to get too caught up in the first half of the race as it’s fast and generally wide open.  After doing a bit of recon the day before, I decided to take the initial climb and first hour around low LT, the second hour around Sweet Spot, hour 3 around mid-tempo before settling into z2/z3 for a bit to save something for the end section.  Pacing to that extent isn't always easy to do on a mtb course but where possible...

The forecast indicated overcast skies with a high temperature in the mid-70’s.  Should be GREAT weather for racing.  Everything was going fantastically, the early morning sun was muted by the high clouds.  Only one small crash on a steep downhill (straight) with several inches of kitty litter slowed me down.  I was drinking my bottle of 2/3 strenght Skratch per hour, eating my enduro bites while riding and shoving Honey Stinger chews down my gullet at aid stations while smiling volunteers refilled my empty bottles.  A little over 3hrs and 40 miles in and I was at Aid #3 feeling great.

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By the time I was at Aid#4 / 52miles, the clouds were gone and it was getting warm so I backed off to z2/z3 cruise control.

What I didn’t realize was just how warm it had become…  (Pink line below - I know Garmin's aren't exactly the gold standard for weather measurement but I think you can get an indication of the general trend)

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It was now mid-90’s and while I knew it was warmer, I had no idea it was that warm.  I did not adjust my fluid consumption accordingly and I didn’t realize it at the time but I was starting to overheat.  About half-way between Aid#4 and #5, I decided to park my rear end on a rock in some shade and slam some more chews – I was starting to hate those things but I was thinking my symptoms were more related to "the bonk". A few minutes in, Echelon alum Christian Long came up the trail and convinced me to walk with him for a bit.  He was also suffering so we took turns talking each other off the ledge for the next little bit.  I ended up riding some things while he chose to walk so we parted ways for a while.

The final aid station is at about 61 miles, just one significant climb short of the finish.  I dug deep for the push into Aid #5 knowing I was REALLY close to wrapping this thing up.  By now, I knew 6.5 hrs was out of my grasp but 7 hrs was doable if I could just keep digging.  Rolling into Aid#5 I was hurting.  I laid down my bike, grabbed some food and water (was really hating the taste of Skratch at this point too) and found a chair in the shade.  Right about then I could feel my heart racing, I was dizzy and my arms were tingling as if they’d fallen asleep.  Thankfully the gentleman in the chair next to me was a paramedic and after figuring out I wasn’t having a heartattack, he got me some icewater to dump on my head.  Holy cow was that an amazing sensation. 

The volunteers brought me some watermellon and Ice cubes then told me to hang out in the chair for a bit.  Not a very hard sale at this point in the game.  I spent nearly half an hour here before I could finally stand without leaning on something but that did the trick.  I was now leaving Aid#5 at ~7hrs.  Thankfully the last hill, while kind of a bitch that far in, wasn’t nearly as bad as advertised.  As something of a bonus, as we neared the initial (false) summit of the final climb a rain/hail/thunderstorm rolled through dropping the temps substantially – the downside was that now the roots/rocks were slick.  

Using Time on the x axis you can see how much time I spent stopped past Aid#4 (~4:45).  It took a little over 3hrs for me to "turtle" the next 15miles (stops included) and you can see the temperature drop from the storm moving through.  Crazy.

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The finish, while welcomed, seemed relatively uneventful as most of us were suffering pretty good at this point.  The "bike valet" parked my ride and pointed me towards the food.  I grabbed a plate of food and a beer but didn’t really feel like eating anything.  Instead I chugged Mtn Dew and Pepsi while recounting the more memorable points of suffering with Christian and other fellow racers.

The Laramie Enduro was more or less my last xxc race for this season.  While Laina and I are going to the Dakota 50 over Labor Day weekend, the “goal” is really just to be social, smell like a campfire and get some fun riding in.  Cross season training starts after this recovery block!!!


What was awesome
  • Familiar Faces - I saw quite a few people I recognized from the RME series, a handful of Foxtrot customers (Billy something or other is the only one that I can remember by name).  It is nice to have a distinctive kit and people really seem to have a positive association with the shop. 
  • New Hoops – freakin stiff and light.  They track incredibly well.  If there is a downside it's that you can really tell when your tire pressure isn’t quite dialed.
  • Volunteers/Aid Stations – Amazing people out in the middle of nowhere filling your water bottles, wiping the lids clean, grabbing you food and doing what they can to keep your motivation up.
  • Racing – Going hard and being somewhat stupid is soooooooooo much more fun than pacing to finish.  I think this length was probably on the edge (or arguably past) of what I can currently do.  Really looking forward to next season.
  • Christian Long - While I never really got to ride with him or know him, his experience and easy-going nature helped pull me through a couple of bad spots.  Real good dude!

What was not awesome
  • The Ramada Inn @ Laramie – Holy fleabag.  If the conditions of the room weren’t enough, the hotel also serves as a/the Greyhound stop J  That’s pretty freaking interesting at 4:30am.
  • Me – I’m amazed that I could be so out of tune with the heat to have dug myself that big of a hole.
  • Race food – next time I’m just going to bring a Ham & Cheese sandwich.  I’m so beyond sick of the “space food” crap.
  • Not having coke at aid stations (esp 4 & 5) – Regular Coke seems like it has some magical properties.  Whether it’s fixing a turbulent tummy or just giving you that dopamine induced boost, Coke was sorely missed by many towards the end of the day.

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