Friday, June 26, 2015

Race Report: Bailey Hundo

Here's an excerpt from my race report of the Bailey Hundo from last year:

Things started out okay up until a broken chain around mile twenty. I burned through a couple matches to make up some time and got behind on my fluids. I started getting leg cramps around mile forty and was feeling the effects of heat exhaustion slowly starting. By mile sixty I was a ball of pain. Any hard effort left me winded. I was hoping I’d catch a second wind, but it never came. It just got worse. Near the end I was getting shakes like my body was going through shock. Never hurt that bad during a race, but after my DNF at the Growler I wasn’t stopping. My result was worse this year than I did two years ago. Another huge failure.

That last sentence. Another huge failure... that pretty much summed up my entire 2014. So far this year has been what I like to call the season of great redemption! Top on my redemption list has been The Bailey Hundo.

The race course for the 2015 Hundo was unlike the courses I had done in the past. Due to flooding, a main stretch of road the course followed was under water. The race board made some quick decisions, and modified the course to a two lap course instead of one big loop. It followed the same course of the shortened Hundito version of the race. This made the Hundo about ten miles shorter, but around the same amount of climbing, and a lot more singletrack. In other words, despite the course change, it was just as tough a race if not tougher.

The day started out hotter than usual this year. Typically, the 6 a.m. start of the Hundo called for arm warmers and knee warmers. After my warm up, I quickly ditched my knee warmers at the start line. It was going to be a hot one for sure. Thanks to an episode of the LW Coaching Show (LW Coaching is also my personal coach) featured on Mountain Bike Radio titled How to Start a 100-mile Mountain Bike Race, I had a crash course on how to start the race. I needed to hurt myself badly the first thirty minutes to get me on the singletrack as quick as possible. Hurt myself I did, and I was the seventh person to hit the trail.

After a hard race start, I took it down a notch, but not too much. According to my heart rate zone, I was climbing at zone 4.7 (the zones are from one to five) when typically I would have wanted to stay in a zone of low four or high three. My body was telling me it was okay to keep pushing, so I kept the hard pace.

I had a big motivator to help me keep pushing as well. My teammate Mark Wallace caught up to me about a hour and forty minutes into the race, and we rode together up to the last hour and half of the race. Since the course had changed, I had no clue what time I needed to shoot for, but Mark had it all worked out. According to his stats, breaking seven hours became the goal for the day.

Mark and I started the second lap right on pace. After hitting it hard during the first lap, I was a bit nervous I'd crumble during the second lap. I must have done something very right during training this year, because crumble I did not. On the contrary, I felt better than ever. So good in fact that I was pushing it on the downhills. I just couldn't help but take the harder lines that had features like rock drop offs. This is the great thing about the SCOTT Spark 900. Not only is it a super fast bike, but it is also so capable that it allows you to have more fun while racing. Not to mention you feel a lot less beat up during long races on this full suspension rocket ship.

Mark is on my tail!

After the first big descent, I nailed the first of three big climbs hard, made another quick descent taking all the "fun" lines, and nailed the second climb with a bit more fierceness. I was then down to the last mega climb to finish myself off. The last big one was a steep dirt road up to Wellington Lake, and then a long gradual dirt road climb to the top. There was a lot of teeth gritting with my eyes closed as I grunted my way up and over.

The last stretch was a couple of short climbs, and then a steep dirt road descent that went into one last climb before another short descent to the finish line. I knew I had to be on the gas if I wanted to break seven hours. I gave it everything I had, took some risks, and sprinted the finish. The official time was 6:58:56.50 which landed me seventh in the pro class, and fourteenth overall! Redemption accomplished! It felt very, very good to nail it at the Hundo.

Up next, THE Firecracker 50 on July 4th followed by the Tatanka 100 the next weekend, and the Breck 68 the weekend after that. Mega July!!! Time for me to recover, and conquer!