Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Laramie Enduro 111 km race report

Did I say these posts were going to be short? Nevermind–I lied. Grab a cold one and come racing with me!

Now finally, the post you’ve all been waiting for – oh wait, it was me that was waiting, no dreading, August 1 ever I signed up for the 70-mile Laramie Enduro Mountain Bike Race in Wyoming since one cold day last February, after all the pain from last year’s endurance races had faded and I couldn’t wait to get back on the bike again. The fact that my husband and a bunch of friends had signed up for it, and the rumors of top notch aid stations and awesome after party entailing free Fat Tire Beer and delicious food made it easy to click the little ENTER NOW button.

However, with the daily deluges in Utah this spring, then work, vacations, and something akin to swine flu, my training was essentially packed into the past two weekends and I was seriously worried. Since Drew and I have been on nearly opposite work schedules, we didn’t get to train together like we did last year, which is one of the reasons we do these things. I was fairly confident I could finish this race, but felt pretty sure it was going to hurt, and hurt badly.


The caravan of Revolution/Peak Fasteners race team members Rhandy, Bob, Jim, Steve, Alison, Jen & Shannon, Jenelle & Ryan, Dick, Greg, Jeremy and even our long-lost teammate Brad from Calgary descended on Laramie. Cousin Milissa from Loveland, Colorado was there to support her husband, Christian, who had an even bleaker training schedule than mine and Drew’s. We all went out to carbo load on pasta on Friday night, and the mood became increasingly apprehensive as the rain came down in buckets outside and the forecast was for record low temperatures. Drew seems to thrive on cold, muddy racing conditions, but I am exactly the opposite, as proven by our race results at Five Mile Pass this spring. I went to bed in our deluxe king suite at the new Fairfield Inn feeling scared and wishing I could just stay in bed the next morning watching HGTV on one of the two flat screen TVs in the room.


Saturday dawned clear and cold (45 degrees) but we each felt excited that the day had finally arrived. After the moderately crazy surge of 400 riders at the gun, I passed teammate Alison on the first fun singletrack. Alison has been riding strong this year and on our last long training ride the weekend before this race, she was stronger than me. Teammate Dick N. was just ahead of me on this second road section so I got on his wheel. He seemed surprised but glad to see another Revo rider so we hung together until after aid station two. On the second road section the wind, she was a blowin’, and we worked together (me = 10% of the work, Dick = 80% of the work and some other rider = 10%. Yeah, that’s a team player there, Jube.) I also passed the girl that beat me in last year’s American Mountain Classic (AMC) stage race. When I stopped at aid station 1 to get food, Alison pedaled through. I passed her again after aid 1, but never did stop worrying that she was right on my wheel. I lost track of the AMC girl, so I had to keep pushing because I didn’t know if she was ahead of me or behind me.

All my boys were ahead of me:



(Andy [That's one half of Rhandy. Sorry, no pics of Rhonda, but she was there with us.])


After aid 2, I knew I was slowing Dick down and told him to ride on ahead, but I was still riding like a mad woman for about the first 40 miles. I felt great – like I could go all day at just below my lactic acid threshold. I was pushing a heart rate of about 10 beats per minute less than I do in the short races, which I was a little concerned was too high, but darn it felt good to pass boys! The course was a good mix of buff singletrack and Forest Service roads which made the miles tick off quickly. The rain had produced lots of puddles and a fair number of black, mucky, cow pie-scented bogs. Two non-ridable stream crossings, one up to mid-thigh, did nothing to help thaw my feet, but the rest of me was not cold, for which I was extremely happy. My new ESI silicone grips kept the numb-hands demons away, and my awesome mechanic (Drew) had my bike tuned so well, even the mud bogs couldn’t stop my shifting.
However, at mile 40 and about 4 hours into it, I started to lose focus and became fatigued. The heart rate I could sustain dropped 7 or 8 beats per minute. As evidence to how tired I was, I floundered around for my flask of caffeinated energy goo at mile 44. Confused by my jersey pockets, (Really, jersey pockets? They are not that hard to figure out.) I thought to myself, “You can get it in a couple of miles at the next aid station.” There had just been an aid station at 42 and there wasn’t another until 54. Good thinkin’ there, Jube. You are a total mental machine.
I got some food and caffeine at aid 4, where I saw Dick again. I stretched a little and took off at the same time as Dick.

I was still very tired and struggling to keep focus. Dick seemed a little concerned. It was sweet of him to be looking out for me, but I felt I really needed to do this on my own, in my own space, so I sort of got a little short with him and told him to just ride his own race. Sorry again, Dick – you are a gem.

I struggled up the big climbs (At least they seemed big. At one point I remember looking at the only slightly uphill trail ahead and thinking, “Wow, this would be a fun, fast middle chainring cruise if I wasn’t so tired.” I looked down and I was 2 gears from granny! Man, perspective changes after 6 hours on the bike.) The caffeine started to kick in and I found my rhythm again. I passed two women who I thought may have been in my category, but who I later found out were in the Open (faster) category or the 20-29 (younger) category.
I pulled into aid 5 almost in a fog. I was greeted by Jim. Jim? What was Jim doing here? He normally smokes me.

“Jim, is that you? I can hardly see you,” I said. When I do long endurance rides, my right eye has a tendency to get blurred vision. I think it is because I dehydrate? The doc doesn’t know either. Anyway, both eyes were quite blurry at this point, severely affecting my depth perception. (This is why, I tell myself, I must stop this crazy endurance racing business.) Dick was there at aid 5 too. I didn’t care, I just wanted to push on and was afraid if I stopped too long I would lose momentum. I grabbed some food and headed out for the last 7 miles, feeling, remarkably, stronger but more delirious with each mile. As I began to hear the wonderfully noisy cars on the glorious highway and I could see the forest opening up to the finish line, I wept a little – I had done it!

Perhaps it was my low expectations of finishing in the middle of the pack but wanting to prove myself wrong, or maybe it was catching site of the girl that beat me last year at the American Mountain Classic, or the fast new rear tire Drew put on for me the day before the race, or maybe even my new training formula from Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition, but I pushed hard the whole race and felt like I had probably pulled in a respectable time at 7 hours 30 minutes. My goal had been sub-8 hours and I had achieved it. My stats for the race were: average heart rate = 155, max = 173, 69.0 miles, average elevation 7900 feet, calories burned = 4153.
We were all happy to finish!

As Drew and I were feasting on the super yummy post meal buffet and drinking delicious Fat Tire beer...,

(Alison and I like beer. Especially me.)

(Ryan and Jenelle are WAY, WAY, WAY faster than me. Maybe because they don’t drink double fisted.)

Saffell came back from the results board. He informed me I had placed 4th overall in the Sport women group! I went down later and figured out that I was actually 2nd in my 30 to 39 age category - a finish much, much higher than I had expected, and I had beat the AMC girl by 42 minutes.

(I think it is funny that this is the highlight of my summer and that the third place woman, who I only beat by 2 minutes and 22 seconds [in a 7.5 hour race!], is up there with her kid. Maybe I should chill.)

My podium prize was this nifty gear bag with flames on the handles, a limited edition Laramie Enduro pint glass, and a cheesy medal.

We had a good time with Christian and Milissa. We were all so happy to see Milissa at the aid stations cheering us on and giving us updates. She also took most of these great action shots. Thanks, Milissa!

The mud bogs were something else though. After the race I couldn’t get my shoes off for all the mud gooped in the buckles, the Velcro didn’t work anymore, and my poor bike was barely able to hang on and shift for me. It might take a little work to get it ready for the next endurance race.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Lucy, congrats' on 2nd place! Amazing you can ride with blurry vision.