Sunday, April 26, 2015


I kinda dig this course.  Kinda tight, just enough loose corners to keep your speed in check, plenty of punchy short climbs and a few steep ~5min climbs.  Quite a few of the trails used in this course butt up to someone’s backyard.  It’d be pretty neat to have this sort of stuff right out your backyard but probably pretty crowded too.

Last year I finished mid-pack in 4:32.  I arbitrarily targeted  4:15 with a stretch of 4:0x.  No real idea where these times come from but if nothing else it’s something to shoot for.  For the last month or so we’ve been working on repeated efforts in the 3-8min range with minimal recovery or recovery at tempo.  That’s perfect for courses like this and most of the RME stuff.

Da Race

I had planned to get a good warmup in but lost track of time.  Probably not a big deal since we’d have to wait ~10min at the start.  I really wanted to be near the front at the start to avoid the bottleneck that generally occurs as we transition from the road to the paved path so I made a point to get behind some fast people (Ward Baker, Rob Batey…).  I think that worked out well as I ended up with a clean line onto the path and entered the course 24th a whopping 10sec down.

First lap went alright.  Rode a little tight, wasn’t used to the new rear tire but eventually got that under control.  Wish we’d been able to pre-ride last weekend as I vaguely remember the course but there are enough loose/blind corners that I probably would have been able to ride much more efficiently.  The only notable even was that I came to close to some scrub oak and that bent my rear derailleur cable so that it was hitting my spokes.  Stopped in the pit to straighten it out and lost a few places.

Second lap I concentrated on making up the places I lost, trying to keep the hammer down and riding smooth.  Pretty good lap times but I wanted to chill out just a bit as they didn’t feel sustainable (TP would validate this thought – lap1 272w np, lap2 252w np).

Laps 3 & 4 were more sane ( 239w and 224w) but the climbing and passing was starting to wear on me and I did my best to spin in hopes to avoid a cramp and completely crush the final lap.  I picked my way through a group of ~10 people, about 5 in my age group.  Strangely, I’d gap them on the climbs (this never happens to me) but they kept coming back to me when I’d get stuck behind someone.   Also, someone in the neighborhood was grilling some burgers and I couldn’t get that out of my head.

Last lap - I did my best to put some time on the group behind me.  Running right up to the point where you can feel your muscles warning you of a cramp if you keep it up.  It sure felt like I was flying as I was passing people left and right (not in my age group though) but my garmin was telling me a slightly different story.  My power on the flats was less (surprise) and my “burst” for passing was kinda pathetic.  Slowest lap of the day (surprise).

I finished 18th (of 57 – seemed like more but…) and did put about a minute onto the pack I’d been yo-yoing infront of the previous lap.  But, next dude (17th) had ~5min on me.



I’d planned to use my pack for the first 3laps maybe 3.5 (60oz) before switching to a bottle or bottles for the remainder.  One of the neat things with this course is that you’re never more than 30min out from a bottle.  At lap 3, I reached back and figured I had a fair left and would just see how far I got.  I ran empty just after the start of lap 4 but never dropped the pack.  Sadly there weren’t enough volunteers for bottle handups but at that point in the race it’s probably not a deal breaker.

This was the first race (and 2nd ride) on my new hoops, drivetrain and rear tire.–

·         Wheels

o   Light Bicycle carbon 24mm internal width hookless bead
o   DT 350 28h
o   DT revolution spokes

·         Drivetrain

o   Xtr 9000 2x11

·         Tread

o   Front – Maxxis Ardent Race 2.25 @24#
o   Rear – Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 @ 28#

This is a DAMN light wheelset (IMO) at under 1,600g w/ tape & valves and with the Thunder Burt coming in at ~515g, the fully built rear wheel comes in around 1,900g (w/ sealant).  But…. This tire has some tradeoffs.  Like most tires, it doesn’t do that well on kitty litter corners.  It doesn't add much braking.  Some of that may be tire pressure as I haven’t had time to dial that in.  I ran ~25# for BOD and felt it rolling on some corners,  I’d guess the sweet spot under my fat ass (~185-190 w/ gear) is probably around 26.5-27#.

Having a 40t rear cog was a blessing, esp on the final lap.  There is the possibility that I may have gone faster without (?) but it was nice to be able to sit with a reasonably high cadence while others were forced to stand.

What went well

·         Positioning – I’m not going to podium here (probably ever) as the lead group was a full 1/2hr ahead.  But like most races, avoiding the bottlenecks is key.  For the most part I did that.

·         Aggressive/Opportunistic riding – as much as possible without burning too many matches early.  For the first time in one of these races, I wasn’t lapped and only two riders from the mens 50-59 came by.  I’m sure the pro’s were right on my ass by the end of the 4th lap but it’s kinda neat

·         Pacing – even though I didn’t negative split, I never felt like I was going to come undone.  Close at a couple points on the final lap (the two bigger climbs on the second half of the loop) but it didn’t happen.

What could have gone better

·         Pre-riding – I’ve ridden here a fair amount but re-familiarizing with the sharp corners, off camber & blind turns could have helped me be a little more efficient

·         Pacing – I wonder if my first lap was too much and if that prevented me from going faster later in the race

·         Nutrition/hydration – I probably ate about half of what I should have.  But… I kinda felt like I was tempting tummy trouble.  I ended up consuming ~600 calories total (~240 from Skratch) over the race.  Virtually nothing for the final lap so over the course of things we’re talking ~200cal/hr which is probably on the lean end of where I want to be (somewhere around 2-250 seems to work best)

·         Passing – There were times when I probably should have passed some people but instead sat on their wheel  (yup, I’m that guy).  I don’t think this would have made up the 5min that separated me and 17th but ya never know.

All told I finished this race 19min faster than last year.  That's a pretty good chunk of time to cut off.  If I do this again next year, I'm gonna shoot for a sub-4hr finish.

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