Thursday, August 21, 2008

18 Hours of Pain

I finally got a taste of how it feels to ride for 18 hours on Saturday and Sunday. The race/ride, 18 Hours on the Farm, started at 4pm on Saturday and continued through the night to end at 10am Sunday morning. The race was at the Brady Saunders Scout Camp in Goochland, VA. The track consists of 9.5 miles of rolling singletrack with some very fast sections and a few log rollers. Otherwise, this is one of the least technical trails I've ever ridden, which is a good thing since it was my home for 18 hours...

Francine and I both raced in the solo category. We arrived at the scout camp around 1pm and my dad brought us his hard-shell pop-up camper for our base camp. We set up in the field alongside the trail near the end of the loop. Brandon Wright and Dave Fish set up next door and the MAC and Rowlett's crews were just past us.
We had massive amounts of food and liquids to cover our needs: PBJs, Cookies, Crackers, Coke, V8, Starbuck's Doubleshots, Red Bull, 2 Gallons of Heed in a dispenser, 5 Gallons of water, as well as plenty of Hammer gels and Clif Bars.

Before the race I walked around the camp to check up on my friends, who were scattered all over the place. Scott D and Kevin Cox set up a big tent for some reason... I guess they were planning to get some sleep or something?

The MAC bros, Lee Wilson, and Mr. T showed up with a my favorite on-the-go food: "Hot and Ready" 5 dollar pies from Little Ceasars (as well as everything else that doctors tell us to stay away from). They had a support crew hanging out, too.

The Bike Factory Team had a huge showing: 2 four-person teams, 3 two-person teams, and a couple of solo riders including Shawn Tevendale. Their pit area was huge and I knew they would be taking much of the wins given their commitment to winning in the VORS series...


The race began with a guy on a mountain unicycle leading the pelaton into the woods. I stayed in the rear of the group because I knew I'd be taking it lax for the first lap (and for all laps really). After rolling a couple of miles, I was grouped with some of my favorite people to ride and race with: Todd Green, Kevin Cox, Scott Davis, Lee Wilson, Travis Williams, Brandon Wright, and a couple of others. The mood was super positive and we rode at a VERY lax pace for the rest of the lap. I actually got passed by my friend Danelle near the end of the lap, which was not easy to allow :) - but I got over it pretty quick.

I was using water bottles instead of the camelbak for the first 4 laps (daylight hours). I figured that 1 bottle would be sufficient for each lap, but that amount was a little short... I pulled into my pit area near the end of the lap and grabbed some Heed and a small snack. Laps 2 and 3 were similar, but I was alone for the entire laps. My stomach grew more and more knotted and I had a bad headache that grew with the miles - something had to give or I was. I stopped after lap 4 and loaded up with Aleve, Coke, and a half PBJ. I also rested for 20 minutes or so to allow my body to overcome and respond to the meds. After my break, I felt recharged and much better! The headache went away never to come back and I began stopping every lap for a half PBJ and some coke! Later on I switched to V8 and RED Bull for good measure. I rarely ate gels as my stomach wasn't in the mood. The sandwiches and Coke did the trick!

The night laps (lap 5 through 12) went smooth and not so smooth. One could call me a rookie for not being prepared when my headlamp battery died on me half way through a lap. Then one could call me a dumb ass when it happened the second time. Both times, I was aided by other riders. I would ride their wheels through the rest of the lap. The first time, I was near the end of the lap, so I went light-free for only a mile. The second time, however, I was only about a mile or two into the lap. I guess my head was all turned inside out since I had been riding all night without sleep. It was my last night-time lap and I thought I had another lap in my light.... I was wrong. A few minutes after the battery died, Kevin Cox rolled up and helped me out. He was in the running for first place and wanted to keep a secure lead on second, so I told him to head on and I'd catch the next rider. He wouldn't have it, so I stuck to his wheel for the ENTIRE lap... About 8 miles in, Shawn Tevendale rolled up and lighted up the rear (thanks). We all rolled out the lap together as the first light of day appeared.

Believe me, it's not easy to ride with any kind of speed without your own light. I fell over a couple of times, but nothing major. I will not let that happen again.

I was able to catch up with Francine from time to time. SHe was riding well during the first 8 hours, then she had problems with her light. It appears that one of her batteries did not charge, so she was left in the middle of a lap with no light and no charged batteries back at the pit. When she returned to the pit, she put her battery on the charger and took a nap… for 4 hours…what a slacker :). I guess it didn’t matter, though, since the second place and third place solo women weren’t going to challenge her first place spot.

After lap 12 I was pretty wiped. I decided it was time to put on a fresh change of clothes and take a breather. At this point, my ass was in VERY poor shape. (For those of you with weak stomachs, move on to the next paragraph) I didn’t expect the friction to be so bad that my skin would rub off, but it was. I had spent many of the previous laps feeling twinges of sharp pain and I knew I was in trouble, I just didn’t know it was THIS bad (sorry and you're welcome - no pictures due to graphic content). I emptied a tube of Neosporin onto my blistered, raw, and ruined hind quarters, dosed a few Aleves, and pushed on…

By this time, I was contemplating my finish. I was in certain pain and began questioning my ability to persevere for 3 more laps, which I needed to meet my goal of 15 laps. Throughout the lap, I changed my mind from “14 laps is good enough” to “I’ve come this far, I know I can at least get in 15 laps”. At times, I felt myself going intentionally slower and complaining about how much it hurt to myself. What a joke! Well, I got over the slump and reinstated my determined mindset for the remainder of lap 13 and lap 14.

I started Lap 14 at 16 hours into the race (which translates to 8am Sunday morning). I knew that I could easily (and that I had to) blow out two more laps to finish the race with 15 laps total. I started thinking about the post-race brunch with omelets, pancakes, bacon, sausage, orange juice, etc. I was getting pretty damn hungry. So, I ate a gel and middle ringed it through the lap in an hour and five minutes (my fastest lap since…um…lap 5). My final lap was just like lap 14, pushing hard to get it done so I could get some brunch!!! About a mile into the lap, I was blessed with a riding partner – Roger Sattler. He rolled up from behind and rode my wheel for five or six miles. We talked about the highs and lows of the race and I almost forgot that we were riding at all. We stopped talking at one point and noticed that we only had a couple of miles left!!! AT this point, I was getting pretty wiped and told him that he’d better head on because I could feel myself dropping off. So he took the lead and I tried to stick to his wheel for the rest of the lap – and we finished the race together.

The race was a really good experience – lots of fun and very challenging. I was lucky enough to start and end the race riding with some good friends. I ended up taking 4th Place in the solo male category and Francine took 1st Place in solo female. I was 6th place overall. the Results are HERE.

Good Times and Good Peops!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ramping Down and Giving Birth

This week is all about getting things done and getting my priotities straight. I've got a couple days before spending 18 hours on my bike, so I'm ramping down my daily workouts. Not that I was working THAT hard in the first place, but it's nice to relax a bit more and take care of some other things in my life.

Dropping the Mother Load

My bud, Josh Krider and his wife Beth pooped out a baby boy, Asher, last Thursday. I finally got to meet him on Sunday - and he was friggin tiny! Josh said that he was under six pounds! I weighed 10 pounds and 12 ounces when I was born (don't laugh at the fat babies, they remember!!!).

So, everything seems like it went well, except for having to deal with 19+ hours of labor! ouch!! Well Josh, you get the gold medal for that one! Just a bit of advice: try Italian food and more castor oil next time...

Back to Cycling...

I had a big weekend of riding planned and bailed on most of it. Saturday I drove up to the scout camp and plugged in a few hours of light trail work with Jason Hopkins. I had an objective: to clean out the first sharp right turn by the lake. It's a bad spot that's been worn and eroded, and I always come close to eating it everytime I pass by. We fixed up and cleared the area - and I am excited to ride out there tonight! The plan was to ride after the trail work, but I bailed to hit the couch for some R&R. Sunday, I met Jason out at Pocahontas State Park for a 25 to 30 mile ride in the A.M. Starting out, I led us at a fast pace down the green and then the red trails. Somehow (maybe I'm just ADD?) I clipped a tree with my hand/right handlebar and dropped like a rag doll. I got up pretty quick, but never got the mojo back. Jason happily took lead and continued to drop me throughout the rest of the day with ease (and at an endurance pace). AFterwards, I felt pretty beat down and tired. My recovery: I met Francine and some friends at the crowded festival err. Watermelon Festival in Carytown. This seems to be a festival created just because they needed more festivals... It was fine, just too many peeps all over the place snailing around and blocking pedestrian and dogs running all over without their leashes...drunken old mulleteers breathing in your face... the usual. I stopped at Weezey's Kitchen for a drink with my bro, Dan, and met up with Francine and her compadre there as well. Good Times. Then I got a little clausterphobic and had to exit. Couch time and Olympics... that's the R&R I was talking about!

I never really felt good on Sunday (as far as my ride went), so I met up with my bud Brandon on Monday to see how the legs felt. We took it pretty easy, rode the horseshoe (Buttermilk and North Shore and then turn around at the Nickel Bridge) a couple of times and called it a night. My legs felt surprisingly better. My plan for the rest of the week is: ride a couple hours today on the mountainbike, then short road rides for Thursday and Friday. Saturday will be my first solo 18hour event.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Recovery Time

As soon as I finished the Wilderness 101, I knew that I would need a good, long time to recover. I just didn't expect it to take so long. Last week, I put my mountain bike away and only got on my road bike for transportation to/from work. I figured I'd be fully recovered after a week of rest... but I wasn't.

I couldn't miss the Scout Camp ride, as it was the last time to ride there before the 18 hour race on August 16th. So, I headed up there with Francine to crank out a few laps. When we arrived, Francine took off and I waited for a couple friends. I ended up riding 3 laps with the fellas, and I was wiped. I'm not sure what happened next, but I think I fell asleep. :) I actually felt okay on Saturday, so I planned a long ride for Sunday as well. Forget about it.

Sunday came around and I decided to rest...errr start building the retaining wall I wanted in the back yard. So, my "rest" day turned into a "hard work" day. I guess I have all week to rest, right?

Monday - after my laborious workday at the "office" (really, I'm just a glorified day laborer), I worked for hours on the retaining wall.

Today - I wasn't kidding about my job. Today (Tuesday), I had to determine the contents of a leaking underground tank. So, I dug a hole in concrete-like dirt (3' diameter and 2' deep) to expose its top. Then I cut into the tank and gauged the contents. Hard work. After riding my bike home (only a six mile trek), I sat my ass on the couch and "potatoed".

My legs, arms, and back are all tired and I'm starting to feel a bit like an old man. I wonder how my body will feel after the 18 hour race. I'll have 2 weeks to recover and then... SM100! I just hope it doesn't come between me kickin Schalk's butt!