It’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. I feel like a sloucher (ps- I looked up sloucher and urban dictionary says: A sloucher is a person who sucks the insides of live or uncooked crustation out into their mouth (chewing it) and spits it back into the crustation. A sloucher repeats this motion until the insides of the crustation are somewhat liquified. Finally the person ingests the “Slouche” therefore deeming them a Sloucher). This is more what I was thinking:
The summer has flown by since I returned home from Santa Fe at the beginning of July… weddings, fishing, camping, weddings, hiking, wooding, painting, staining, garage sale’ing, trimming, grilling, cuba libre’ing, insulating, more weddings, and of course – RIDING BIKES! Speaking of bikes, Lucy is now officially riding a bike. 3 1/2 years old. Riding by herself. Never seen a training wheel. What a blast we’ve been having at Shady Rest Park!! Just a couple days ago, she started jumping out of the saddle on “climbs” because she watched her friend Lilja do it… and now she’s attacking the hills… hoot!!
Anyhoo, my legs are starting to feel pretty happy again. 12 weeks of 12 hour work days on my feet with a heavy camera took it’s toll on my fragile mariposa-like frame. I still haven’t decided on my next race – either the Cococino 25o in AZ, 24 Hours of Moab, or California Endurance State Champs in Big Bear. These all fall on the same weekend in October. Bummer. I’ll letcha know when I decide. Whichever one I choose, I figured the High Sierra Fall Century up here in Mammoth would be a great training ride (even if it’s a “road” event). It’s such a majestic course. John Armstrong, Corty, Andrea, and the whole Footloose Sports gang put on a fantastic event. It’s a well-oiled machine. I volunteered again this year, transporting chairs, tables, tents, etc. for the aid stations, and stuffed some goody bags with Angela and Lucy. This event takes a ton of volunteer hours and hard work by lots of people – shouts to everybody that chipped in.
I did the reverse century a few weeks ago with the Eastside Velo Club. That was great fun, and a good reminder of what to expect on the course. I rode 34:15 gearing, with my normal knobby tires at about 35psi. Quite a pain in the arse on the flats, but it was still a pretty tough gear for all the climbs. On the day, I made some important changes to my setup.
First, Glenn at Footloose coaxed me into throwing a 36t chainring on at the last minute, so I wound up with 36:15 gearing. I was a little nervous about it… but figured even if I had to walk a couple steep sections, I’d make up for it on the 30 miles of flats. I put on my trusty Schwalbe Furious Fred tires pumped to 55psi (as high as I’m willing to go on my Stan’s Crest rims). I also found some $5 aerobars at a garage sale, and decided to give those a try. Hey if all the Tour Divide peeps swear by them, there must be something to it. I’m always looking for extra hand positions, and this course is notoriously windy. Plus, nothing looks more suave than getting aero on a mtb.
Cut to “race” day. This is considered a ride, but for me, it was actually a race against myself. I did it in 6:19 last year, and wanted to improve upon that. I also decided a sub 6-hour time would be a good goal. But a lot depends on wind. Also, I always wind up riding the whole thing by my lonesome self… meaning no peloton, no slipstreams, no drafting opportunities for this lowly single-speeder. My only consolation is standing up and hammering past as many mandex kits as a I can on every climb. Nothing beats it!
Nutshell: I finished in 5:58, achieving my goal. I played my mantra in my head. “My race my pace” and executed a great nutrition plan. I stopped for 2 minutes total (a minute to help a rider with a flat tire, and a minute at the Sage Hen aid station to fill two bottles and grab some bananas. I was expecting some heed, or gu brew, etc – but no powder at the aid stations this year, just water. That was the only thing I was slightly bummed about. The aerobars were frickin amazing!! We hit huge headwinds along the back of the 120 all the way until the start of Wildrose climb. I just tucked and ducked. It also was great to switch up my hand positions, really kept my arms from getting fatigued… which allowed me to crank that almost unmanageable gear up all the climbs. I rode the whole course- no walking. I had just enough in the tank to get up Wildrose. About 80 miles in, heading up the last steep punchy “sheep corral” climb to Watterson, I started to cramp but pushed to the top while my quads felt like boa constrictors crumpling my femurs… knowing I could spin the lactic acid out in the upcoming flats. It worked, the endurolytes kicked in, and before I knew it, I crossed the finish and was sippin brew and eating a pulled pork sandwich (the food was catered by The Mill this year, and it was fantastic). The Core Shots took the stage, and the vibe was great. The photos were FREE, and you could grab prints on the spot or digitally download later, also for FREE. CaptivatingSportsPhotos.net did a great job.
Final Thoughts: Overall, stoked with my effort and the result. Somehow, I think I finished in the top 10-20 overall, or at least that’s what the Strava data would lead me to believe. 94 miles, 5,600′ climbing and a steady 16mph avg speed. Stoked with the event. Beautiful views around every turn, at the top of every climb, during every descent. What a blessing it is to be able ride bikes with friends.