Sunday, May 15

6 Hours of Stony Creek

This would be my second 6 hour race ever, and based on last year's experience I had mixed emotions about how things would go. A year ago I showed up an hour late, because of work, and had bad leg cramps, bike problems and poor nutrition. These things led to a finish of 5 laps and way off the winning 7 laps. Things needed to be different for this year.

Yesterday I arrived an hour early and settled into my pre-race routine. Cooler and ride bag were at the tent and I was ready to get going. A quick rider's meeting and it was time to start. It was more congested at the start than I expected and that meant I would need to wait for the trail to open up. This didn't happen until the long two track leading out towards Sheldon. Once on it I was able to get around several riders and it was time to settle in and ride my race.

The plan going in was simple enough. Complete 7 laps, drink at least 1 bottle per hour and consume an additional 200 calories per lap. All went to plan except the food. I probably only had 100-150 calories per lap. I tried some different products and they were tough to chew and swallow on their own.

Laps 1 and 2 went well and I made my first stop for new bottles and food. I packed enough for laps 3 and 4 and headed out. I was still feeling good and watching the HR monitor, trying to keep a high Z2-lowZ3 effort, while eating and drinking at set places on the coarse. I continued to catch riders and stay to plan. Coming to the end of the forth lap I was considering my next refueling choices. I decided to grab more traditional foods, a banana, 1/2 P&J and some Sports Beans.

Lap 5 was when I started battling myself menatally and physically. The full rigid setup started giving me soar shoulders, triceps and arm pump. To help relax myself I would drop and shake out each arm on the flat 2 track sections. Mentally I knew this was as far as I completed last year and wasn't sure I could keep going another 20+ miles. I took a different approach halfway through the lap and stopped thinking about the race. Instead I thought about nature, family, friends and music. The oddest songs and thoughts would come to mind and I found myself laughing, wondering why this? Why now? Lap 5 was done and I wanted a Coke. Time for stop 3. While pulling in Keith R says Hi and tells me I'm running 3rd. Sweet! I comment that I'm 4:20:00 in and heading for lap 6. His comment is time for 2 more laps. At the time I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Lap 6 was going to be the toughest lap. I started getting cold and my inner thighs were showing signs of cramping. I had to back off a couple times because they were twitching slightly. I changed my pedaling style and that helped for the remaining of the race. My head also started feeling heavy. It felt like I was wearing a weighted helmet and I thought how those other riders are going for 12 hours. The wind felt like it picked up and it was getting dark. I wasn't sure I wanted to keep going and beat the 7:30 cut off for final lap. Something kept me going and Lap 6 is done. Into the pits for the second half of my Coke and a vest. 7:20 pm and time for the last lap.

Lap 7 was surprisingly easy. I had a sudden peace and sense of accomplishment just having started the final lap. I knew I was going to meet my lap goal and secure my podium finish. The hills hurt bad and I had to stand and grind everyone of them out. It felt like I was the only one out there. No other riders around and quiet. Heading into the 'Snake' for one last time I began to smile and almost cry because I was so tired. Up the final climb and into the finish for a 7 lap, 6:14:59 finish and 3rd place. 46 seconds behind 2nd. Great race for me and glad I didn't quite.

In closing I'd like to say that for all of you who cut the coarse I'm disappointed you think that's OK. You should DQ yourself or double back and ride the set coarse. On a positive note, great race to Jamie for his first solo 6hr. and 3rd place. Thanks to all the support from Paint Creek Team/Shop. I'll see you out there.

Saturday, May 7

I'm a Weekend, Weekend Warrior!

Before I talk about me, I would like to say congratulations to a couple guys/gal for great starts to their seasons. In no particular order- Christian Tanguy, Tim Finkel, Clint Verran, Mike Simonson, Steve Dempsey and Sue Stephens.  It's great to see Michigan racers do well in National and International events.  I know there are others and I have respect for all of you. Keep doing what you love!

Work is back on and that means riding is now one more step lower on the 'priority' list.  Bittersweet, but better than  not working.  So for now my riding looks like Tuesdays for the Paint Creek Dirt Roads and Weekends.  I have to make what time I have count and that means harder miles.  Every time I go out I need to do intervals, tempo blocks or race efforts.  I get plenty of  'recovery' like fitness working 10-12 hour days. Nothing new, just Spring time for Michigan Landscaping.  Work starts settling down after the July 4th holiday and back to normal 40-50 hour weeks. 

Event number 2 next week at the 6/12 of Stony Creek.  I'm planning on a strong event and need to plan this week of work carefully.  With a chance of rain and thunderstorms almost every day who knows how work or the race will go.  I actually would like to see some rain on Saturday.  Not thunderstorms, but showers or rain for about an hour or two. That would make things 'suck' that much more and make you search for your inner strength. Let's see what happens.