Sometimes great things grow out of crap. Like mushrooms for example.
This Saturday I ended up jumping into the 12 Hours of Cumberland mountain bike race by default. 2 weeks ago I didn't see this one coming as I was on a training mission to beat my Kusam klimb time- but life changes pretty quick and sometimes if you just hang on it takes you on a really fun ride!
Friday night I called up Ken Mutch (River Rat bud) to see if he still wanted to ride as a team in Saturday's race after finally getting my head around the fact that I wouldn't be running Kusam in the am. The rest of his team pulled out but Ken was keen so we made a team plan (see you in the morning...don't forget your bike). Then I started throwing things into a rubbermade for the race AND baking cookies for the Relay for Life bakesale on Saturday night. Late to bed...early to rise and next thing you know I am at No 6. Miners Park at 7:40am with my bike in tow!
The race started at about 8:20am and the clock kept running for 12 straight hours until 8:20pm that evening. Racers went out in teams of 4, teams of 2 and solo. There were 15 solo men and 5 solo women!!
There was a HUGE range of race plans and paces that included everything from all out for 12 hours with no breaks to riding a single speed bike to drinking Guiness every 3 or 4 laps and hanging out and eating burgers every few laps.
Then there were the 'shit' bikes. This was an entirely new race concept for me and one that turned out to play a huge role in team strategy. The deal was: Ride the 'shit' bike and get 2 laps counted for 1. You could only take the bike 1 lap at a time - but there were 2 of them and if you were 'lucky' you could grab the other one for another half hour of extreme fear and torture. Some guys could actually ride those shit bikes pretty hard. I was completely impressed. Most of the time you got to pass guys on shit bikes- but this didn't really provide much satisfaction.
The bikes were 2 old school rigid frame beauties with caliper brakes (well they didn't actually work and fell off the rims when you tried to use them), limited shifters PLUS you got a kick stand and lock included on the bike. Sweet. Unfortunately I never got a 'chance' to ride one of the 'shit' bikes. Maybe next year I will risk my life.
Our plan fell somewhere in the middle and didn't include the shit bikes. We started by riding 2 laps on the XC course which took under 30 minutes per lap then swapping out and repeating. It was a great way to keep a flow going and take advantage of being warm rather than stopping and starting. The weather was dry but cool in the morning and although you were super warm on the ride you got chilled off real quick when it wasn't your turn.
My first lap I had some serious adrenaline going and my heartrate was through the roof! 186! Ahhhckkkkk I am going to blow my heart up! But, it was the adrenaline for sure and by the second lap I was into my groove averaging 29minutes per lap.
Up the road ... 2 and a Juice ... Buggered Pig ... down the road and up a spur ... Soggy Biscuit ... Black Hole ... Space Nugget ... through the swamp and back to the park for a lap. Short and Sweet.
A WORD ON IGNORANCE
Ignorance can be very painful indeed.
Going into the race I was cool and calm as a cucumber. Sweet day I thought : hang out in Cumberland and ride my bike all day around some of the lower trails. No hill climbing, super easy, walk in the park. I can ride my bike for 6 hours - I just did that 2 weeks ago in the FMIJ. And I will get 50% rest - how hard could it be.
What I didn't factor into my romanticized image of the race was the fact that I am WAY too competitive to take it easy on a short bike lap like that. Going all day at a moderate pace is one thing. Going 110% for nearly 6 hours of intervals is another entirely! I couldn't just cruise the lap. I had to go all out and try to beat of maintain my time on each lap. And nearly killed myself in the process:) But it was fun of course:)
I had it down to seconds. 4 minutes into 2 and a Juice ... Less than 17 minutes to the Perseverance Bridge ... Less than 19 into Soggy ... and so on and so on. I should have just ripped that odometer/clock off my handlebars but I am a slave to the numbers.
After my 4th lap I did something I have never done in a race. I ate a burger and chips. Yup. Well, ok, it was a veggie burger and I didn't have a beer with it like most everyone else! But still- a burger in between intervals?
It did something really good and then really bad.
My 5th lap was my fastest lap. 3:30 to 2and a juice! 15 minutes to the bridge! 28 minutes to the finish chute! I had high expectations for my back to back 6th lap - thinking that I had finally figured it all out and I was in some sort of veggie burger zone.
Then I hit the wall. 4:30 to 2anda juice and every fibre in my quads was screaming. I felt every hill in my quads and I nearly cried when I had to use granny gear at the top of 2and a juice. I kept dropping gears and the hills kept getting bigger. It was a long lap and I was spent. I couldn't get my heart rate above 160 but my legs were toast so I knew it was muscle glycogen depletion. The veggie burger ran out and I ran out of gas. 33 minutes and toasted.
I completely stuffed my face full of pasta, home baked cookies, fruit bars etc then lay on my blanket staring at the sky while I waited for the glucose to hit my system.
We went to single laps soon after that and was seemed silly in the morning was a savior in the afternoon. Givin er for 1 lap was a real treat! We could still turn it all on for the lap cause we had a break right around the corner. And we were able to fuel and hydrate much better on this system. The weather warmed up and we didn't have a chance to cool off between laps.
I averaged around 30-32 minutes per lap for the rest of the day and although my hill climbs probably got slower with each lap, my descents definitely got faster. I am no speed racer but in this scenario there was plenty of incentive to keep your fingers off the brakes. The less you brake, the more momentum you have and the less you have to peddle:) I was really lettn er go on soggy biscuit and space nugget by the end of the day! Digging in and trying to go as long as possible without braking:) Fun.
12hours later Team ELM had completed 23 laps , tied for 1st place in a category with only 2 teams:) The other guys were faster in the end and we had fun riding with them on the course all day. I did 11 laps and learned a new level of suffering. I can honestly say that was physically harder than the pain I would have endured at Kusam. My body is not trained to do that type of biking...well ... I guess now it is:). BUT my LEGS FEEL GREAT TODAY! My symptoms are no worse as there was absolutely zero impact on the anterior compartment.
Instead my upper back, chest, abs, low back and of course my bum&bits were a wee fatygay this morning. Good, well deserved sore:)
A HUGE THANK YOU to Jeremy of Riding Fool Hostel and all the AMAZING volunteers for your time and energy putting on this race! CONGRATULATIONS Jeremy on your events huge success. This is a true grass-roots event that builds upon the community and leaves you with a real 'feel good'. Simple but with all the right fixins to make a well organized and special race experience. Having the BBQ running was a perfect fit and made it seem like a family gathering:)
If you like to ride your mountain bike and hang with friends all day bbq style, then you should definitely mark your calendars for this awesome event in 2010!
Team ELM with our Giants from Mountain City Cycle:) Love the ride!