Imaginary trumpets and real donuts
Today’s stage stats: approximately 42 miles / 7300 feet of climbing.
Total time including warm up and ride back to bike wash and condo: 4:22
HR avg: 128 BPM
Singletrack: blazing fun
Suffer factor: medium-high
Pre-race belly fire: low
During race effort: high, out of necessity to continue moving forward
Stage place: 17th (I think)
Time down on winner: A lot
It’s normal to feel a certain undulation of energy levels during endurance efforts, especially multi-day events. I was unpleasantly surprised to feel a new low of energy today however. I was nearly as worthless today as I was in day 1 (the day after I competed in the Leadville 100). Riding at the front of the race yesterday had apparently taken its toll.
I started stage 4 of the 2012 Breck Epic with aspirations of finding a good rhythm and flow and enjoying the plethora of singletrack served up on the legendary Colorado and Aqueduct trails. Instead, smooth rhythm escaped me for most of the day and I was fighting the bike, struggling over technical obstacles, and counting miles to the finish during the entire stage.
There were a few bright moments. The first came when I got to watch Ross Schnell break the sound barrier on the first descent, which was a four-mile drop straight down the side of some random mountain, littered with baby heads and no clean line. Ross passed me just as we began to plummet, and quickly disappeared into the center of the earth. He seriously put two minutes on me in about 500 meters. Granted he’s riding a bike with a 59mm stem and like 12 inches of travel, but that guy has mad skills.
Next was at the top of the aptly named “Vomit Hill,” which is not terribly long but is ridiculously steep. When I reached the top, I was certain I was hallucinating; I had to take a video to confirm there was a woman playing a trumpet and offering riders donuts and PBR. And if you also don’t believe me, here’s the video to prove it.
The next bright spot was riding up Keystone road, where the pedals seemed to turn over easily. That lasted about 20 minutes, until I picked up an anchor, hugged it, and threw it overboard, dragging it all the way to the line. I don’t think the small portion of donut I ate helped my situation, but I also believe my low energy was a result of being slightly underfed, under-slept and under-watered from the previous day. Thus, I’ve eaten more, slept more and consumed more fluids today in an attempt to help my general well being.
Since I’m on a rant of glass half-full stuff, I also kept air in my tires all day today, which is a big plus. No forest creatures need be offended by my foul colloquialisms.
The final positive experience of the day was the last mile of trail, called “Bomber” because there used to be (and possibly still is) a guy who lives near the trail who apparently made bombs as some type of hobby. Breckenridge has lots of colorful characters and Mike shares great stories about all of them with us. You have to love a race meeting with character. Bomber is a great way to end the stage, it’s real old school, keep you on your toes with ADD-style, constantly changing singletrack.
Today I had the chance to try some new equipment, courtesy of Rotor (thanks Kervin for the late-night install!) I’ve used Rotor rings on my CX bike in the past, and a bit on my road bike, however logic dictates that a mountain bike is the best place for these rings with steep, grinding climbs. My XX rings were beyond done so the timing was perfect.
Reviews I’ve read indicate that some rider adaptation is necessary for switching to shaped rings. Kervin and I discussed this and decided that my legs are so trashed at this point, it probably doesn’t matter. We agreed that I would go forth and pedal. I can clearly feel increased leverage point at 3 o’clock on steep climbs, which sure is nice when I am so cross-eyed I can barely get up the hill.
Today’s stage ended on a particularly long and steep grade and I was barely creeping up it, although I did stay upright.
Tomorrow is Wheeler, which as Mike put it in the meeting tonight, “may involve a bit of walking.” Translation: 20 minute hike-a-bike. Good times.
Thanks for reading,