Monday, June 18, 2012

Stoopid 50 Recap

So the field goes off for the S50 and climbs 3.6 miles on pavement before entering singletrack. I figured it would go hot pretty early to break things up before the singletrack – it didn’t. The pace stayed tempo or a little above and lining up for the almost 180 degree entrance for the singletrack didn’t go well. Guys jumped the inside of the turn and it spread out about 12 wide and someone fell onto the guy next to him setting off the domino effect. Someone was lying on my legs I fell on the guys legs next to me and so on… What a great way to start a hard race.

We all manage to get up and hustle into the singletrack and then the conga line forms. This was fine and I’m used to this early on in the endurance races. We hit this amazing rocky ridgeline singletrack called Tussey Ridge. It was good until it was very evident that the guys in front of me couldn’t ride technically. I could see them falling off the pace of the riders in front of them and the rocks were killing them and slowing me up. I was nice at first but then I just kept telling them to let me by and nothing. So I stayed right on their wheels looking for a spot to pass. Of course when it opened up they hit the gas and just blocked the next section. I had to jump off on a couple of sections and was forced to let people by. I knew those that passed were going nowhere because of the tools that were ahead. I was really frustrated at this point knowing the leaders were getting away and I was stuck in this bottleneck.

On the following climb I got out and then just got into my rhythm. I saw a few up ahead including Butt forming a group and I latched on to see how the pace was. The group was moving along but I needed to lift the pace and just rolled off the front to bridge up to the next guy ahead. Feeling good I rolled through him and kept working my way up the climb eventually catching Kyle Lawrence and riding with him and one other rider for a bit. We rolled into the aid and through into the next singletrack section well. On the rough descent I kept my distance and once I hit the bottom my chain fell off and locked in the front ring. It actually bound up and got stuck on the front ring and stuck in my derailleur. I had to let them go and stop and work on the bike for a minute. I fixed it and kept on cranking again putting a good pace into the next hill. I felt good but saw riders coming up so I put the power down again.

I crested the climb well and got into the singletrack with a good gap. Through the rocky singletrack that I recognized from the W101 I rode clean and focused on riding smoothly. Where the W101 diverted was new trail and I was having a little trouble focusing on the trail. Around one bend I caught a rock and it whipped my bars around and threw me onto the ground. I was not happy. Of course my chain fell off too so I had to asses my wounds and put my chain back on. Of course this rattled my confidence and let those coming up from behind latch back on. Not long after Butt came cruising through. So I tried to get back into my groove and just ride smoothly again. It was hard and I was just off for some unknown reason. Around one corner I hear Butt up ahead yell and figured he’d sailed off the trail or something….nope it was a different issue. The big black root in front of me on the trail happened to be about a 5’ long black snake. I bunny hopped(snake hopped) him the best I could clearing him and yelled to the riders behind me to watch out. That was an obstacle that I wasn’t used to clearing.

The singletrack was nice and rugged as we kept climbing up and the group stayed pretty tight. We hit one turn and the next turn had no markings. Poop… We turned around to look for a missed turn but we were on the right track so after backtracking for a minute we figured out the correct trail and kept on. Of course as we started getting back into a groove I went over my bars again and threw myself in the dirt. A mile or so later I did that again. It was ridiculous how many times I was on the ground. So of course the group ahead was gone and I was really aggravated. To make things worse at that point I was just concerned with getting to the finish in one piece. I started to dial it back and ride conservatively. I crossed a road and kept going and saw no one and no signs and my gps was telling my I was off course. Great. I rode a half mile back up the trail and eventually saw another rider and he said we were on the right trail so I turned it around and kept riding. At this point I was totally demoralized and pissed how things were going. So what happens next. My chain keeps dropping or over shifting off the big ring…repeatedly. I have to stop many times to put it back on the front ring and on the jockey wheels. Now I know why they call this race stoopid because that’s exactly how my effort felt. I only wanted to get to the finish line in one piece. On the next road climb I put down some power but I couldn’t do much with my skipping derailleur. The smallest 3 cogs were useless and it was ghost shifting all over the others. It was so annoying as I felt good. If the bike was working I have no doubt I could have put down much more power and done so much better. At that point it was just about getting to the finish unscathed and not ready to sell every bike I own. Of course on the final climb/downhill I got passed by a few people that I wasn’t happy to see as I am still competitive even if I’m not riding like it.

I crossed the line in 4:43 in 18th place. Meh. It was a rough day and not much went right. The only saving grace was that I did feel good climbing so my legs responded well after the 100 miler 2 weeks ago and the 5k that tried to rip my legs off last week. I rationalize it in the manner that a bad effort will only make my training more disciplined and focused on the next priority race. I’m already jonesing to get out on the W101 course and really give it a go. That’s still 6 weeks away though. Stewart 6 pack and Bulldog Rump lie ahead first though.

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