Memphis Invitational Circuit Race Report

A.K.A. The race that almost wasn’t.

Participation in this race was in jeopardy following my previous post when the race promoter sent out an email on Wednesday night (I didn’t get it, I heard about it 2ndhand) letting racers know that the 10:00a.m. Women’s race would be combined with the 8:00a.m. Cat4 men’s race.

I was rather irate.

The obvious issue with this is that the promoter sent out an email about my race that I didn’t get. While numbers were bound to be low, it doesn’t help if women who plan on being there at 10 are going to show up an hour after their race is over.
Then, there’s the whole “trying to have your own race around a bunch of men fucking sucks” thing. They’ll chase down your attacks and basically shove their egos into the middle of your race. It used to happen all the time when I first started racing, and all TBRA women’s races were combined with master’s 50+ men.

I’ll admit, it’s a chicken/egg thing- Offer a separate women’s race and only a couple show up, so you decide to combine fields, which further discourages women from showing up. I get it. It’s a big chunk of everyone’s time to sit around an extra 45 minutes to watch a handful of racers. You know what, though?  We train just as hard. We want to race each other just as hard. It’s a slap in the face to have your race put off like it’s an inconvenience. Needless to say, I made my case to the local official, and she convinced the promoter that the women’s race would stay separate at its originally scheduled time.  (THANK YOU, TERESA!)

Anyway- on to the good stuff.

Saturday morning, I packed up and rode the half hour to the race course for a nice warmup. When I arrived at registration, I learned that two other women from the Marx-Bensdorf team would be racing- Marda (uber-fit/strong time-trialer- left) and Lindsay (no idea, but she looked fast- right). Small field? Yes. Challenging field? You bet. I’ve been double teamed on two occasions in the past- and I had a 50% success rate in the situation.


We did decide on the line to shorten our race to 30 minutes. I figured that for a 45 minute race, I’d have to sit in a good 15 minutes prior to trying to get away. Going to 30 would mean less “sit and wait” time. When we started, Lindsay immediately sat on the front. I was happy to sit on her wheel and bide my time. Well, I say I was happy… I was actually antsy enough that Matt told me later that I looked like I was about to turn myself inside out with impatience. I was. Seriously. I wanted to attack so bad. On about the 3rd lap, Lindsay broke from her previous M.O. and pedaled really hard up the hill before the last turn. At the top, she sat up. I wanted to attack, but I looked at the time… only 5 minutes in. Wait, damnit.


Next lap, the promoter calls a prime. I call a compromise with myself. Since we’re “only” racing 30 minutes, I will counter the 1st prime if they go for it. Nine minutes in? Sure, why not?

We approach the final straightaway, still in the above formation. Lindsay was near the curb, so I arranged myself just to her left so that Marda would be forced to attack to my left if she wanted to do so. Gotta eliminate the options.
Suddenly, I hear CLACK CLACK and the dig of carbon wheels behind me. OMG, IT’S ON! I felt an ambushing lion.

I jumped into Marda’s draft as she passed me. She took the prime by a bike length, and I laid into the attack, taking the first corner with my knee nearly on the ground. A good counter-attack feels like this:

I almost ran into the lead car. Marda chased. Hard.

I dove deep into the pain cave. I felt awesome, though. I could tell that I was opening the gap a little more each time I’d go up the long grade before the final turn. Eventually, there was nothing behind me except for a follow car. I got 40-50 second time gaps called out, as well as a “they’re working together now!” after a few laps. I just kept my head down and pedaled harder.


Twenty-one minutes later, I was giving a victory salute. It felt good. Time to cool down and go to the podium.


Ryan and I had a snack and headed back home. I discovered once I was there that not only had I increased my me vs. double team success rate, but I’d also matched my previous PR for 20 minute power. As in, I’m actually starting to get fast. It’s so on.



Roadie Stuff

Sure, I primarily ride mountain bikes, but I cut my teeth in road racing. So, this time of year, I indulge in watching the Tour de France for hours a day. I have a few re-occuring thoughts/predictions about the race so far. If you don’t watch/follow, you’re probably going to be bored with this post.

-As a closet Cavendish fan, I wanted to hate Sagan, but I totally love him. He’s young, crafty, and races incredibly smart (bonus: he rides no-handed wheelies). I predict that he will win a World Championship at some point.
-When you hear Phil repeatedly call a rider/team “unstoppable,” it’s a prophetic indication that there will be a doping charge in the future.
-Stages like Friday’s # 7 are why I watch the Tour. The emotion during the last half hour of racing was fantastic- not just for the winner/his manager, but behind him as the top riders of the race hammered over the final climb. Even if you’re not a road fan, I recommend you watch it.
-This last one should cause a stir in the peanut gallery:
The insane number of crashes during the flat stages are, in large part, caused by the style of racing provoked by heavy use of race radios. The pack rolls along just fast enough to frantically reel in the breakaway during the final 30K of the course. Every. Single. Stage. They are radio puppets to their managers. The reasons why this causes wrecks are A) The initial pace is totally non-selective. No one gets dropped because of crosswinds/small climbs/etc. More people in the pack = more chances of wrecking. B) The pace is initially slow enough that riders are constantly bunched up. Anyone who has ever road raced knows that this is when pile-ups occur. Sure, they can’t be on the rivet and hammering the entire 100+ miles, but the entire pack staying in a “slow” rolling bunch for 100 of 140 miles of racing instead of actually racing is just asking for it. C) The frantic chase at the end. It’s frantic. Suddenly, the pack that’s rolled tempo for the past 100 miles is hammering its ass off.

A while back, the UCI tried to ban radios. Teams raised all sorts of hell because they said it was a safety issue. Well, now the radio puppet-style of racing is becoming a safety issue. If you want riders to know about road hazards ahead, have a general official’s radio that broadcasts such things to all riders. Ditch the radio puppets and bring back real racing.

This Saturday, I’m going to indulge in some road racing of my own. There’s a(nother) training crit… I’m feeling pretty awesome right now because of some kickass interval training. This time, there’s a women’s race on the bill, so I’m hoping the handful of other local ladies show up to throw down. No radios allowed.

Legends of Stanky Creek XC

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve raced a Cross Country race. In fact, this was just my 6th one since I started riding off-road in 2009 and 3rd one since I upgraded to Cat 1 (with my 1st Cat1 race being a DNF because of a broken derailleur). So, with my area of expertise generally swinging between 100 milers and 45 minute CX races, I wasn’t 100% sure on pacing myself (not totally in the dark- more like about 90%).

Stanky creek is rooty as hell. The turns are small and the hills are tight. Err… close enough.

I decided a while back that I’d ride the Crowbar. While anything can be fast out there, the full suspension lets you keep traction over the roots & whatnot, so you can pay less attention to your line and more attention to the next turn. I did a few single laps out there leading up to race day, and had my lap time nailed down to ~50min. I figured that’d be a good starting point on pacing for 3 laps, and I could modify the plan depending on the competitive heat.

Only 2 other women entered the Cat 1 race- Laureen Coffelt, who I race against often in the NUE series, and Jennifer Moorehead, who has been on hiatus for a bit and is just now getting back into it. We lined up behind the Cat 1 men and started 2 minutes after the 40+ age group.

When the race started, I took the holeshot. The way the trail rides is very tight in the first few miles, gradually opening up to the more flowy, power-hungry white trail for the last few miles (with the white trail being briefly interrupted by a tighter, anti-flow loop that was built a few years ago). I aimed to maintain speed in the first section by staying off of the brakes as much as possible then start dropping the hammer in the sections where the trail was more open. Everything went off without a hitch, except for the creek crossing. The race directer did a great job of making it nice and smooth, with a bit of a berm over the exit lip to keep it from becoming eroded again. However, the turn to get onto the trail is sharp and left on the exit, and I found myself launching into the bushes and putting a foot down every time I crossed it. EVERY time. Oops.

My slightly conservative strategy meant that I could hear the other women behind me for a little while. Once I was on the more open trail, I started to lay down the wattage, and they disappeared. After that, I was alone. Well, I passed a few of the men that started ahead of me, but someone that you’ve put 2+ minutes into generally doesn’t put up much of a fight when you want to get around. I found myself getting complacent in the 2nd lap. I got a little mad at myself for not going full-bore and dug in the spurs.

I was satisfyingly tired by the 3rd lap, but was able to continue pushing. I took enough chances that I had some close-call almost wrecks, but managed to remain upright the entire race. There was one cramping incident near the end of the last lap- I swung my right knee out for balance, only to have my inner thigh muscle turn itself into a ball. I talked to it… trying to convince it that I needed it to fully function for just another 10 minutes. I finished in just a hair over 2.5 hours- 7 minutes ahead of Laureen, who was minutes ahead of Jennifer.

It’s weird to race for 2.5 hours. I feel like I could have gone a little faster, but, like in some of the CX races from last winter, once I’m way out front, I tend to take fewer risks and take the pace down to a few clicks below “bleeding out of my eyeballs.” However, it’s going to take racing against people that can kick my ass in every direction to get that sort of effort. It’s good training to get ready for the Breck Epic, so my search for an ass-kicking will continue until I find one.

Don’t call it a comeback…

In case you’re just now joining me, here’s a little rundown of the past few months in training/racing:

Late winter/spring- got a little bit of a late start on my endurance training because of the training leading up to master’s worlds. Didn’t matter. First few races of the spring, I felt great. Killed it at Southern Cross, Spa City 6hr, Ouachita, and Slobberknocker (scroll back through the archives for race reports).
Then, at the end of April, Cohutta rolls around. First 100 of the season. I did well, but I wasn’t 100% ripping the cranks off of my bike, which is kinda how my training/tapering was supposed to set me up. It’s OK, I thought… just a little leftover “tired” from Slobberknocker.

I rested up and tried to get back to normal training a week later… only to fail miserably.

I rested some more and felt better before Syllamo. However, it was a lot like Cohutta- not bad, but definitely not Incredible Hulk-style crank bending, either. Then, at Syllamo, my brain and body shut down. More rest before Mohican.

Up to Mohican, I was better than before Syllamo. Mohican was a good race. Not my best, but not bad.

I rested some more up until last Saturday. My prescribed training was 3.5 hours easy-ish. I decided that instead of subjecting myself to a 3.5 hour road ride that I’d join Fullface Kenny for ~45miles of hauling ass through the Wolf River and Stanky Creek trails on our Jet9s. The “tired” that I felt after that ride wasn’t the oppressive, full mind/body tired… it was a satisfying sort of tired that is mainly concentrated to your legs and appetite for food, beer, and more training.

Then, yesterday, it was back to road training. As a preparation for some more XC-oriented racing, I went out to ride steady with occasional hill attacks. It went really well. I got the “rip your cranks off” feeling back as the ride progressed.

The blood lust is back.

My future plans involve a couple of regional XC races followed by Pierre’s Hole and the Breck Epic. What about the Breck 100? Well, the logistics just weren’t working out. In order to acclimate, etc. I was just going to be gone from home for too long. So, I’m narrowing the focus a little and compacting my trip West into 3 weeks instead of 6. The way I’m feeling now, I don’t think it will disappoint.

Always unsettled, never unnerved

Mid weeks during a recovery period following a race tend to be the most torturous… at least for me. You feel good enough to not be tired, but tired enough that you aren’t going to do anything other than a recovery ride on the bike. As a result, I just feel extra restless. Mentally and physically.

In my head, I’m ready to get back into training. If you haven’t heard, the Breck Epic is the (self -proclaimed) Single Speed Stage Race World Championship (SSSRWC) race. This is, quite possibly, the best chance I’ve ever had to win a WC, and, while it’s somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek designation, I am a junkie for rainbow stripes on my jerseys.

In my race report, I forgot to mention a fun story about a woman named Colleen. Somewhere between aids 2 and 3, we re-entered singletrack from a bit of gravel road. It was one of the slightly techy sections, and, in my haste, I spun a tire on a slick rock at the base of a steep, rocky pitch. I hopped off to push, and, as I did, I realized that there was a group of people in harnesses and helmets just off the trail to my left.
With them was a woman hanging from a short, low, zip line. (I knew there was a tourist-y zipline thing in the area but I didn’t realize that the course cut right through it). This woman was somewhat overweight, dressed one notch too nice to be out in the woods, and her coiffed and curled hair was smashed under her red bowling ball-style helmet. As I was trudging through the rocks, I heard the group leader say, “nice job, Colleen!” as she swung slowly down the line. I could be totally wrong, but she looked absolutely terrified and out of her element. She was hanging in her harness like a side of beef in a butcher’s freezer (ok, yes, I realize that sounds mean, but, at 40something miles into a race, it was the first thing that popped into my head).

At that point, I yelled, “HELL, YEAH, COLLEEN! DO IT!”

…this prompted every other racer within earshot to also encourage Colleen at the top of their lungs.

I’d like to think that Colleen spent the day conquering her fears and came out a better person on the other end of the zipline course. Maybe she decided she’d start taking more risks, and, as I type this, is doing crazy stuff like driving 5 mph over the speed limit or getting the “hot” salsa instead of “mild.” Maybe later on that night, she had the courage to flirt with Darrel… the young, good-looking new hire from down the hallway.

Or maybe she’s still finding chigger bites and hates the woods even more than she did prior to her zipline experience.

I guess the take-away message is that doing something out of your comfort zone is a risk. Taking risks can be both terrifying and life changing (in both good and bad ways). Risk-taking prevents complacency, and, in my mind, complacency is the most vile and evil thing I can think of. Complacency is the brother of “Good Enough,” who is first cousin to both “Lazy” and “Stagnant.” Risk-taking is the daughter of Challenge.

I realized that I’m not necessarily “tired” of 100 mile races, but that I’ve grown slightly complacent. I’m not good enough to battle for placing, I’m merely fit enough to ride at my own pace, which occasionally happens to be faster than a majority of competitors. I have to challenge myself to be better. It’s scary, because if I’m faster, the expectations I have for myself are that much higher, and the competitive challenges I seek out will be larger and harder. It’s what I love, though.

So, while being restless and discontent is not a comfortable acute state, it almost always breeds change for the better.

Mohican 100 Race Report

After polling the viewing audience and doing a lot of riding/thinking, I decided I’d go with the geared bike for the Mohican race. It was a tough choice… I love singlespeed. I realized that repeatedly on course- I’d feel a touch on envy any time I was around someone on a singlespeed. I felt like an outcast.

Saturday morning was chilly. A cold front had moved through the day before, bringing rain and a drop in temperature. Luckily, the trails had been very dry, so most of the singletrack was in great shape. (I did bring the singlespeed with me… just in case). For whatever reason, the 100k racers were started with the 100 mile racers, making for a crowded start line. I warmed up for a little while then crammed myself in to the third or fourth row back. The start is always hectic at these races, and this one is no exception. After a downhill that’s just long enough to get going over 30mph, the road goes straight up- about 300 feet of elevation gain in 3/4 of a mile. My goal for the day was to stay in the big ring and ride it like a singlespeed whenever I could.

I found myself sitting in 2nd as we entered the first trails through the woods. Thankfully, my singletrack mojo was in full effect, and I negotiated the slippery, steep spots where a lot of people were spinning or sliding out. Half an hour in, and I still feel like I’m flying. Flying enough that I almost took a wrong turn at a 3-way intersection that was at the bottom of a hill. I couldn’t see the course markings until it was too late, so I came to a full-on sliding stop about 10 feet down the wrong trail. As I turned to get back onto the correct path, Kathleen Harding, a pro from Team CF, was coming down the same hill. I yelled at her and some other riders to go right. I got back onto the trail and stayed with her group. Eventually she and I were together. I decided to keep pace with her for a while and see what happened.

Not long after that, we made it to the first aid station. I’d decided to go with 3 bottles that morning (I LOVE having a medium frame with two water bottle cages!), and I had 1.5 bottles remaining. She stopped, and I made the split-second decision to push to the next aid before refilling. (Spoiler alert- I made it to aid 2 about 5 minutes after I drank the last of my 3rd bottle).

I was alone for a little while. It was about 2.5 hours in, and I realized that I was really bored. Not acutely… the singletrack was great, and a lot of fun… but kinda bored with the whole “ride 100 miles” thing. I’d had a similar thought at Syllamo, but figured I should wait until I was having a good race before I decided I was tired of 100 mile races. Yeah. Kinda Bored.

It wasn’t long after that when I heard a commotion behind me- Brenda was coming up the trail with a train of male riders dangling on her wheel as if they thought they could keep up with the half-pint horror for another 70 miles (in case you’re wondering, of course I mean that as a compliment). She and I rode together for a little while until I struck a pedal and wrecked. She and Lee quickly disappeared up the trail. I didn’t chase. However, unlike last time, when I just didn’t care about chasing, this time, I was in such a good groove and pushing just hard enough that I just decided that I’d stick to my plan and see how it unfolded. (spoiler alert #2- she beat me by about 18 minutes)

Once I was out of the initial singletrack, I made it a point to eat and drink plenty. Even though it was going to be a mild day, I didn’t want to get behind on anything. At one point, a couple of guys rode by and told me that there was another woman not far behind me. I kept that thought in my head the remainder of the day.

As with any 100 mile race, there were chunks of the day where I wasn’t having the best time and chunks of the day that I don’t really remember. I kept chipping away at the miles, though. The wind was a little relentless, and it seemed that every time I was on the road, I was usually without a wheel to draft. The best part, though, was turning on to the (often dreaded) 9 miles of flat gravel rail trail section and getting a wicked tailwind for the first couple of miles. One of the other more notable spots was between aid 4 and 5… just before the midpoint water stop, there was a descent that was so steep that I was laying into both brakes, sliding/skidding a little, and when I hit a bump, my saddle bumped up and smacked the underside of a boob. Sure, maybe I was back a little further than I needed to be… but I wasn’t endo-ing or walking, either.

I eventually passed the final aid station and found myself in the final 5 miles of singletrack. I looked over my shoulder the entire way to the finish line. It was a good thing, too- if you watch this video on Cyclingdirt, you’ll see just how close Kathleen was…

So, I had a pretty good race and finished 3rd in 8:44- an hour faster than last year. Yes, this time, I was faster with gears. I still love my singlespeed, though.

I don’t know how bored I am with 100s. Maybe I just need to be faster so I’m doing more “racing” and less “100 mile time trial” style riding. I can’t see myself leaving them totally, because if I did, I’d miss all of the adventures and all of the awesome people that I get to hang out with before/after the race. For now, I’m gonna take a step back and prep for the Breck Epic that starts mid-August. The focus now shifts to building the speed and top-end that I’ll need to race the shorter days at altitude.

Mohican Countdown

The votes from my previous Mohican post have been tallied, and, well, as always, I may or may not take the peanut gallery’s advice. You see, advice is what you ask for when you’ve already made up your mind. Often times, you probably know that the right answer isn’t necessarily the easiest answer or the safest answer, so you’re just waiting for someone to tell you that it’s OK to take the easy/safe route.

That makes it justified, right?

I digress.

I’m leaving for the Mohican 100 early Friday morning. Yeah, I know, driving 10 hours the day before a race kinda sucks, but, until I achieve awesome, baller status, it’s what I’ve got. Yesterday, I took the A9RDO out for my one and only between-race interval workout. Even though it wasn’t the most splendid and awe-inspiring set of intervals ever, I didn’t feel worn out, burned out, tired, or any of the other ways I’ve felt over the past 4 weeks. Barring another full-on brain and body meltdown like Syllamo, I think that Mohican should be good. Maybe very good. I want to be on the tall step next to Amanda.I hope my race goes something like this:


Oh yeah, In case you were wondering, I’m taking Gerry Pflug’s advice.

Mohican 100

With the Mohican 100 one hot week away,  I know the question that’s hot on everyone’s mind right now is “wtf is wrong with you?” I still don’t know- the blood tests seemed pretty normal. I rode a little yesterday, and I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t really feel kickass, either. Tomorrow’s ride will be a little longer, so I’ll see how that goes.

Mohican is a course with short, steep climbs and lots of flat/rolling terrain between. With the distinct possibility that I could (given I feel good) place well, I’m giving some serious thought to riding it geared.

The prospect of riding a 100 on a geared bike seems really weird to me. My bikes all have their own personalities. The singlespeed is like the “comfortable sweater” boyfriend- we have a great time together, he’s always super reliable, and he doesn’t care that I accidentally farted that one time in the car and it smelled really bad. The Air9 RDO, on the other hand, is like the guy that you only call on the weekends when you’re bored and feeling adventurous. Sexy, fast, but with a crazy streak that screams, “I’ll never, EVER meet your parents.” Riding a 100 miler on that one is like suddenly taking the “weekender” out for a week-long road trip. What will we talk about after the first hour? Do I actually want to find out that he’s got a weird affinity for McDonald’s Happy Meals? What’s he gonna think when he’s subjected to my morning “sit down” in the confines of a hotel room?

It’s up to the viewing audience at this point. Go to the Facebook page and vote in the poll: In the meantime, here are the Air9 RDO photos that I never posted before:



P.S. Yeah, that headset’s looking a little rusty. Ignore that and admire the swirls of carbon goodness.

WTF my mom smells like a horse

Ok, not really. My mom always smells like nice perfume. But, according to my wordpress stats, someone found my blog by Google-ing that phrase. Now that’s out of the way, on to less random ramblings.

I haven’t ridden since Saturday. Normally, I’d do some easy recovery rides, but Coach put me on a 4 day vacation that ends after today. Leading in to Mohican, I’m basically recovering. It’s not ideal. In my head (and, probably to a lesser degree ,in my legs), I’m losing fitness every day. That, coupled with the uncertainty of WHY DON’T I FEEL LIKE RACING?!? has basically turned me into an emotional basketcase.

There are theories… not many ways to figure out which is correct-
A) I’m just burnt out. I don’t feel like racing because I’m tired of racing these long-ass races. The mental malaise has carried over into physical malaise.
I don’t necessarily think that’s true… I don’t feel like I’ve met my goal of “kick lots of 100 mile ass,” so it’s still very interesting to me. Where do I go after this season? I don’t know. It may not be the NUE series. It may be XC or Marathon distance racing. It may be racing geared in the NUE. I don’t know, but right now, I am 99% sure I’m not burnt out on 100s.
B) Overtraining/lack of recovery
Plausible. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. My training program seems solid. If anything, since ramping back into training in February, I’ve felt like I’ve wanted more. Up until Slobberknocker, I’ve felt like a sponge for training intensity- absorbing everything the bike throws at me and still feeling thirsty for more.
C)Physiological problem
Maybe I’m anemic. I started eating more high-iron foods, but maybe there’s a problem with absorption. I do experience some pretty interesting beeturia when I consume beets. This is the one thing that’s easier to figure out- I went to the Shot Nurse clinic yesterday and had blood drawn for a complete blood count. I should have preliminary results back later this morning, though, even if everything looks normal now, I wouldn’t totally drop all suspicions… blood is not a static thing. While it always consists of the same basic elements, fluctuations in hormones, electrolytes, hydration, etc. can occur and throw off the numbers.

Whatever it is, it’s frustrating. I identify as a bike racer. You take away my ability and desire to do so, and you take away a part of my being. Everything has gone so well up to this point… looking so promising… I just want this bad patch to be over so I can get back to honeybadger status…


Syllamo 125k

Syllamo is a wild, brutal trail. It’s hard on your equipment, your body, and your mind.

Since Wednesday this week, I’ve been out at the cabin riding a little and relaxing a lot. I spent a lot of time hanging with Amanda Carey and hoping that some of her pro fast-ness would rub off on me. She makes a mean bowl of food…


Aside from short pre-rides (during which, we discovered the trail was viciously overgrown in some areas), we spent most of our time watching hummingbirds


Petting Turbo


Or, just generally kicking back and enjoying the sunset


The last few weeks have been tough… for reasons still under speculation, I didn’t experience my usual speedy recovery following the Cohutta 100. I was feeling somewhat better last weekend, and I figured that I’d be 100% back on point with a few days at the cabin participating in the aforementioned activities.

However, yesterday morning, I felt as if I had a subconscious aversion to the race. First,  I forgot stuff at the cabin… extra water bottle, extra sports bra, and, oh yeah… MY SHOES. Luckily, Ryan (racing the 50 miler, which started an hour later), was able to bring them to me. It was as if a ghost didn’t want me to get on my bike, and could only barely grasp at me like that transparent ghost hand in the movies.

The race start was as it always is- a drag race up the 3/4 mile Blanchard Road  climb to the entrance of one of the more technical sections of singletrack. By not being on a granny gear up the climb, I was able to be with some slightly more technically-abled riders once we hit the yellow trail

The riders I was around were generally alright… however, I felt a strange malaise about my placing in the pack. A few miles in, Brenda passed me on a rare doubletrack climb. I felt indifferent. I sort of picked up my pace to follow, only to realize that I just didn’t feel like a battle. At that point, I figured I’d just go for a long ride and, based on my general good fitness and riding ability, it’d all turn out pretty good.

That worked alright until about 3 hours in when I reached the long climb from up the blue trail from the highway to Green Mountain road. Even though I was doing everything “right” as far as pacing and nutrition, I started to feel overly-fatigued as I hiked & ground my way up the hill. I ended up walking a good part of the climb that I’d normally ride. Not really sure what was wrong with me, or why I was feeling much more exhausted than what I’d normally expect at that point in a race, the urge to drop out started to creep into the back of my mind.

The hardest racing condition in the world is not a physical condition-  If your mind doesn’t want you to race, you’re dealing with something much worse than any bad weather, injury, or difficult terrain.

I crept my way up to the 3rd aid station to grab some fresh bottles and get onto the red trail. Up there, I was greeted by Steven from Texas (a.k.a. Dude Brah) who had broken his chainring early in the race and forced to drop out. He asked me how I was doing, and I just told him it wasn’t a good day. He gave me several cups of ice cold coconut water and a quick philosophical talk about how I could appreciate a bad day because it brings about self awareness. He was probably a little stoned, but it gave me something to think about for the first few minutes of red trail. It was getting hot- probably around 90 degrees.

Then, my brain started to go. I was spacing out and losing awareness of time and space- other than “red trail,” I didn’t really know where I was or how long I’d been riding. I recognized the feeling, and, coupled with how I’d felt up the blue trail, it all made sense- I was bonking my ass off. How? No idea… I was eating and drinking how I have successfully in the past. I wasn’t necessarily riding any harder than usual. My legs began to complain and feel pre-cramp-ish.

Somewhere along the trail, I made a deal with myself: if I started to get full-blown leg cramps before I started the 2nd lap, I’d drop out.

That didn’t happen. I passed the “drop out” point and started back onto the Yellow trail. I was the tiniest bit happy to see that my “50 mile” lap time was right at 5 hours and 30 minutes… not that bad, actually. I was bonkish and overheated, but I decided at that point that the only way I was leaving the trail before crossing the finish line was by paramedics and a stretcher.

There’s something really creepy about the second lap on the yellow trail during the 125k. You see lots of evidence of lots of riders, but hardly ever an actual, live person. The couple of guys I did see were in pretty rough shape (how someone could be worse off than I was and still out there, I have no idea, but they were). Every time I’d get a little anaerobic, I’d feel like puking, so I walked up a lot of the steep/rocky stuff. I tried to go back into the bonk cave in my head so that I would be less aware of how slow I was moving, but instead just hung in a limbo of altered overheated consciousness.

It took forever, but I finally made it to the last rock garden and climb out to the “easy” part of the yellow that looped back to the final lap of the red trail. I knew I was going to make it. At the aid station, I put fresh water in my bottles. The Roctane I’d been drinking wasn’t sitting well, and I was afraid that it could be turning sour in the afternoon heat and sun. A half mile into the trail, I found a pocket-sized bottle of Elete drops. I stopped and put it into my water. Later on in the trail, I shared it with some 50 mile guys who were sitting at a road crossing, trying to get the energy to continue on.

There’s a point about a mile from the end of the red trail where you pass through two pine trees. It’s a narrow spot- the only one like it on the trail. From there, you climb a tiny bit and you’re done. I wanted to stop and hug the trees when I saw them.

So, I finished. 8:50something on the clock- more than 30 minutes slower than last year. I still finished 5th.


I’m mentally and physically wrecked right now. Coach and I are trying to figure things out, starting with 4 days off. It’s not really clear if I’m suffering from a simple lack of recovery, a lack of recovery due to something physiologically wrong, or a simple need to HTFU and ride harder. It’s never immediately clear. I hate being here at this point in the season, but it’s where I am, and, when I eventually rise up and overcome, I’ll chock it up to a learning experience, and it won’t happen again.