Monday, May 28, 2007

8 Hr Race Report

Drove down to Matt's Friday afternoon.Managed to shake off the 'death nods' to stay awake during the five hour drive to Midland. Two consecutive restless nights in Ottawa in the heat made me bagged. Once at Matt's we wasted little time stuffing pizza into our faces, then it was off to sleep for as much rest as I could get.

Woke early to head out for the race. Arrived at Mansfield Outdoor Centre around 8:30am Saturday morning to pick up our race packages and prep for 8 hours in the saddle. As the sun was coming out in the morning, it felt like it might get too hot, but turned out to be the perfect temperature for riding.Brandon, Kari, me and Matt in the pits before the race.

We were surprised to find out that we were starting 5 minutes after the rest of the main field started. This changed my game plan - originally I wanted to bust out of the gates on the heels of the fast guys and get past the slower riders. Turned out to work out not too badly, by the solos caught them, they were pretty much spread out and would just step aside to let the long train pass.

The course was made up of fast and winding single track, with a few short sections of double track mixed in. Only two significant climbs: the first right out of the shoot, was long and steady. Riding the ss, it was tough to stay seated, so I had to stand and climb most of it - while the geared riders spun away. The second climb (called Oxygen Debt)had a l-o-n-g gradual climb, then a very steep section, followed by a down then a series of tight switch backs to the top. I rode the first part, but ran the shorter and switch back part of the climb. I saved more time and energy doing this than trying to mash my way to the top. Sometimes racing isn't about pedaling all the time, it's about making smart decisions and saving energy for later in the race.

Luckily after each significant climb there was lots of single track to recover on. The climbs started to take their tole on me around the 7th or 8th lap. Had some dark moments where I just wanted to stop and give up. I thought about why the hell had I even signed up for another 24 hr solo, when I was suffering a little over half way through an 8 hr race.

I was able to divide the course into two sections, both about 5km apart. The start line was one reward - everyone cheering you on, and the other being the solo pit area where I could refuel, get a new bottle and a pat on the back.
Coming into the pit for a much needed coke from Doug.

I had a moment during the race where I thought that I might not finish due to a mechanical. I had started my 9th lap, climbing the long gradual climb and couldn't get clipped in after coming through the timing tent. I stopped and had a look at my cleat and it was loose and moving around. I managed to get clipped in and hoped that it wouldn't come any more loose until I was able to get back to the solo area (didn't carry a multi tool . . . yeah, bright!). I focused on trying not to move my foot around on the pedal too much for fear of losing the cleat or a screw (I hadn't a spare of either). I had just put locktite and new cleats on two nights before too. Managed to get back to the pit and quickly got them tightened up and back on my way.

The next few laps went by fairly uneventful and I was feeling good that the race was coming to a close. I was coming up to the cut off time of 6pm to get in my last lap. Part of me really wanted to call it a day and pack it in after my 12th. I even had thoughts of hanging out in the woods pretending to have a flat or something, just to kill the time and put me in on my last lap after 6pm so I wouldn't have to go back out.

I put it out of my head quickly. I came to Mansifield to race and train. Mental training is as important. The biggest part of endurance racing is mental toughness. Mind over matter and the body is so huge. I decided to suck it up and keep hammering and push on for a 13th. I came through the timing tent at about 5:50pm. I got a big cheer from the Chico boys, "BIG RING!" That gave me enough UMPA LOOMPA to get moving and feeling good that this was indeed my last lap.

Funny enough, on that climb out of the start, who do I catch up with? Kari spinning up that hill on her 12th lap. Man, what a machine! I decided to ride with Kari at her pace and enjoy the last lap chatting about the race and keeping each other company. It made it go by faster and it was a lot of fun. We both came into the solo pit area together at 6:20pm to find out the cut off time was 6:40pm. SHITE! I panicked and took off. We were only about 5km out, but being fatigued, who knew how long it would take?

Kari yelled to me not to wait . . . I felt a little bad, but I really didn't want to miss the cut off time, so I pushed on as hard as I could. Got over the last climb and found a steady rhythm to keep me moving. Before I knew it I was passing the "1km To Go" sign and was able to relax with about ten minutes left. Finished the last little bit of single track which dumped me out at the timing area, rolled through and finished.

13 laps, 133.9km, 8hrs.26min.8sec. Good enough for 9th out of 44 solo riders.

Was a very dusty course. Man do I looked baked.

Kari took 3rd place in all the solo women riders (17 in total). At the start of the race she said that she wanted to place in the top three. What a great start to your season Kari!
Matt finished 6th place with 13 laps in 8hr 10min 39 sec. Big effort and awesome race for him. If his handlebars hadn't come loose during the race, he'd probably have moved up a spot.

Many thanks to Brandon's folks Irene and Doug who helped out in the pits with Brent (a junior from the Tri club that Matt trains with). Very happy with my results. Training is right on track, still another month before I peak. Whoot!
Arrived back home Sunday afternoon. My biggest fan and supporter had this cake waiting for me. You're the best Chrissie! ("We're" meaning my wife, dog Jacks and cat Pibbs! Too funny!)


matt said...

If you had gears I think it would have been you and I battling it out throughout the race. Amazing results with just one gear

lenny said...

WOW, great race report Craig and congrats on the 9th place finish. Keep up the good work and if you want some company on some of those training rides let me know.

Anonymous said...

Where did you buy that brown "single" bike t-shirt in the photo?

Craig said...

Thanks Lenny & Matt.

Anonymous - I got that T-shirt for X-mas from my wife. She bought it at Phat Moose here in Ottawa. If you're not from around these parts, you can order it through them on-line.

The Vegan Vagabond said...

hey hey great result!! way to push through the pain.
That cake is the best. Christine is a keeper!

Craig said...

8 hrs on a ss, top ten finish amongst geared riders . . . not too shabby!