Monday, August 26, 2013

Rattling Creek 50 Recap

This was round 3 of this race and once again it was a much different race course than in the past 2 races. Due to some trail issues they ran a 30 mile first lap and then repeated the outer singletrack loop the second time to make the 50 miles. If you haven't done this one before, this is full on mountain biking at it's finest. These trails are some really rocky tough trails and it's an amazing feat to get to the finish line without going over the bars or having mechanicals. This year I did both thankfully!

After a few rough races, I was really hoping to get a good solid race in. So I did what any normal person does, I rode too much during the week, mounted up a brand new tire that I wouldn't have a chance to ride before hand, and headed out to Lykens PA for a battle with the rocks. Last year I took 4th place in a solid field that ended a bit short as there was some course marking issues. This year I was hoping for a better full 50 mile race and it would prove to be just that. Conditions were perfect, weather was cool and dry and the morning was actually cold. It was refreshing. So anywhere here's how it goes...

I took off hard from the start but tried to stay steady and just ride people down and make time through the really rough stuff. I was probably in 12th or so position after the initial STEEP hike a bike and then just stayed patient and rode at the back of a group of 5 for a while until it opened up and we jockeyed for positions. As the lap went on I was riding steady and I started to get through one by one. As each would bobble I kept on it and passed through. I was going back and forth with one rider for most of the first lap until we chatted around mile 24 or so and found out that he was doing the 25 mile race...wonderful. At least as I found out later he was the 25 mile winner. So he dropped off and I headed out onto the second lap of the bumpy wonderful singletrack.

At mile 20 I filled one bottle and put down a pretty good pace relying on the next aid station about 10 miles later. Well that aid station had closed up and I was now out of water...crap. I kept on knowing that the next aid station was at mile 40 but I already felt thirsty so I knew that was a bad sign. I would find out later that at this point I was actually in 3rd place but the dehydration had taken it's toll. I had to meter the power back a bit and just try and get to the next aid station without cramping. In the next few miles Zach Morey and Jed Prentice found their way through but I had no answer with no water. I knew if I tried to get on their wheel I would end up in the fetal position in the bushes somewhere so I let them go. I found water at aid 40 and a little later I got some strength back and started to put the pedals down hard again.

Once I got some water I was able to really enjoy the rocky goodness that is the Rattling Creek. There are so many cool and rugged features you need to ride through around and over that it's really an accomplishment to ride most of this stuff. I was happy to cross the line in 4:48 in 5th place and have a steady solid ride even having a pretty big water issue. If you get the opportunity, check out these trails. If you like some good techy riding, you won't be disappointed.

Status Update - Bulldog Rump, Wilderness 101, 909, Mountain Creek

Well it's been a while since I've posted, but that's for mostly good reasons. My last update was from the Tatanka 100 in Sturgis SD, and there's been a whole lot going on since then. The weekend following the T100 was my best friend's wedding in SLC which was amazing and I am totally amazed at how well it went and very happy that I was able to take part in a huge event in my friend's lives.

On the racing side of the scene, it was great being part of a huge life event but that left some time off the bike which was probably a godsend. I know I always think otherwise but who knows. So from the wedding I went up to Yellowstone for 3 days to check out the wildlife and scenery as it was incredible. I was so busy checking out everything that I didn't mind being away from the bike. On the way out though I stopped off in Jackson to ride and then hit up one other spot in Nebraska before making my way back to NJ and back to normalcy...somewhat. I returned just in time to help out with registration and setup for my team's race - the H2H Bulldog Rump. It was great to help out but I was exhausted from the trip.

To top it off I worked the race and raced it but with heavy legs from the West road trip I didn't know how they would respond. I did pretty well but I was definitely feeling a bit gassed. Overall I still did well finishing 10th of 21 in a really strong field which gave me hope that some fitness was still lingering.

After that came the Wilderness 101. This has to be one of my favorite races of the season, but with some hindsight this was one of the biggest letdowns of the season. My training was off, my prep was off, and life just got in the way for this one. I'd been working a lot the previous days before the race and with some mental stress of making arrangements for my wedding I pretty much went into this race on auto pilot. That's not what you ever want to do for one of these races. I forgot about my hydration and early on I had some bad cramping which would set the stage for the rest of the day. At 2 hours in I was starting to get solid cramps - which usually show their head after 5 or 6 hours. I knew it was going to be a long day. I had to go into survival mode early. Actually it was so bad I had to talk myself out of quitting pretty much every time the course pointed upwards. I had nothing. No motivation, no energy, and just lots of pain. The only thing that kept me going was this promise of new singletrack. That was the biggest help.

For the remainder of the 101 I suffered and wanted to give it all up but I pressed on. I found a little energy at aid 4 and I rode pretty well for the remainder of the course, but it was too little and waaaaay too late. I crossed the line at 8:27, way off my goal, but at least I was reassured by a few who said the course was 30 mins slower than the previous one. I still feel afterwards if I wasn't on the edge of death the entire time that on that same course and feeling good I could cut off a full hour or so. That's why there's always next year.

As for the 909, it was an exhaustion race for me. I did well for two laps and fell flat on my face the last mile to finish a close DFL. I was 55 seconds from 6th place but landed in 9th for dead last as I just couldn't save the gas for the end. Being an endurance guy I was actually pretty happy with the result given what I had been through the previous weeks.

Then for the Mountain Creek race, 3 flats and some bad luck left me on a nice hike for the 3rd lap. I finished but not happily. I felt like I could have done pretty well this race but the rubber gods were not on my side. One of these more recent races has to go well.

Next recap, Rattling Creek 50.