Wednesday, 3 June 2015

24hrs round the clock the hard way

Going back in time to 2014, I was entered into this same event. I raced it totally wrong, I got some stomach discomfort and got sick by the side of the trail.  Looking back now I could see that the culprit was me racing this event using my wattage device and gauging my performance on IF and not RPE like I always do.  At 32 degrees on a fully exposed course (except for 2-3kms at the river), there was no way that I could pace myself on a course that I hadn't ridden more than a couple of times, based on sheer best of metrics.

So at the end of last season, a few factors caused me to change things up and take on my own training. Not an easy thing to do, but better than the "one size fits all" training approach that I had been on previously.

Moving forward and with a bunch of training in the bank for this event a couple of things threatened to derail my plans. One was that I was coming down with a pretty good head cold, great! The second was that Coralee has hit her busy season at work and could not break away for the extra long weekend. Which in other terms would mean I wouldn't have any pit support for this event.

At the end of it all I decided to embrace this challenge... to complete a 24hr completely solo is no small undertaking. No info, no time splits, no average lap times, no smiling faces handing you bottles. No one yelling at you to get after it in the middle of the night when you are wondering what it is you've gotten yourself into. It's not impossible, but it's not ideal.

I drove down early Friday morning arriving in Spokane at around noon, which was perfect. It allowed me to get my pit setup without any pressure. At 3pm I was out on course riding a pre lap and getting settled into what seemed like a fairly easy course, but I wasn't going to take it for granted like last year. I notice that a sandy (2-3k's maybe) has been added to the course and a short section of downhill was removed. The course is longer but I really don't care at this point. It's how choppy and rutted this course is guaranteed to become as the race wears on with 600+ plus riders. The more riders, the more chewed up the course became, the tougher it is on the "touch points" on the bike.

With dinner at Huckleberrys --, and an ice cold beer back at camp, I climbed into my cot I had setup in my trailer for 10 hrs sleep.

I awake in the morning to the sun shining and walk down to grab a coffee on site. It's now that I really feel that I still have this nagging sinus congestion. I'm hoping it gets sorted out so that it doesn't become an issue. I tell myself that if I've done a 24 with a torn rotator cuff, one with a planters wart on my foot, and blisters in places I won't mention, I can handle this one with a sniffle.

11:30: bottles are filled, cooler is setup, kit is on and my bike and spare are ready to go with the number plates. I see by the temp that we are already approaching the 30C mark and I'm betting with the exposure out on course that it will feel much hotter.

12pm: I head off for my ridiculous run, get on my bike and start my race. I chip away at a good clip on course and spend the next few hours keeping my pace pretty constant.  In the late afternoon I start looking forward to the night laps as I feel the heat pretty good and I am starting to see some people on the side of the course looking a bit green (like me last year). I am also noticing how chewed up the course is becoming by the sheer amount of dust being kicked up everywhere.

The night comes and I grab my lights and I am out again. I feel discomfort outside of my feet. Once the darkness hits I am enjoying the cooler temps and am seriously loving my lights from NR. For me it's the color of the light I like the best. They are plenty bright, but I don't run them on high, actually I run them on the lower settings so I get better mileage out of the batteries. The white of these lights are not too white, so they don't reflect the dust particles back into my goggles but, more of a just off white. I don't get the reflection and the beam is able to cut through all but the thickest plume of dust by a passing rider. It's funny I had 2 separate teamers in the middle of the night grab my wheel through the new super dusty section. This one rider came up to me after the race and said he didn't know how I could see my way around that section. IMO it was a game changer.

4:16 am: I am halfway through the money lap in and I am still ticking along quite nicely. Really no issues, outside of having to add a small amount of air to my rear tire, as I was getting a bit worried about it on the "even more" sharp exposed rocks, and I had bottomed out a couple of times.

I was stoked to get my lights off to lighten up a bit, and enjoy some warmer temps. It was quite nice temp wise through the night and it was only around 7am or so that I started to get a bit cold riding down through little Vietnam. It was around this time that I passed Jari Kirkland and she was looking fit and fast and yelled out "go get em tiger" to me when I went by.

This is sort of where I think my race went sideways a bit, I came in 20hrs deep in this race to the start finish area. I thought I had just finished my 16th lap. I spoke to the girl looking after our timing and asked what lap I had just finished. She came back with 14 laps, and I said that I was pretty sure it was wrong. After around the better part of eternity it seemed, it turns out I had just finished my 15th lap. However, it cost me 10 mins to find this info out. Realizing later that she was up all night like myself, that it was to be expected. But, I could not take the chance to stop and check any intel out for the balance of this race. The thought of standing around cooling down to get info didn't really appeal to me. Looking back now, I'm pretty sure it was around this time that I lost my position from 1st to 2nd, but honestly am not sure. My mentality of racing until I was told to stop was all I could focus on. That's why I think the difference between podium and first place is all the little things. Including someone back at my pit telling me my split times.

In the rearview, I never had one issue with my cold during this event. There was one that cropped up during the event that was starting to irritate me feet were starting to hurt. The day was starting to heat up pretty good this morning and my feet were really starting to cook and the chop of the course, was adding to the discomfort. However, I was able to push through this and cross the line at 24:33hrs after I start.

1st place cat 40-49
18 laps in at somewhere around 440kms complete and 15k of vert gain.  I get it done. Not bad for racing blind, and making my own way, and ending up only 15mins down from 1st overall

One of the hardest parts, believe it or not, was packing up all my gear on my own after this event. It was brutal in the heat. But I can truly say this event was completely unsupported.

A big thanks goes out to the race organizers for putting on this event, I love the the vibe here. The people are so cool, the fellow racers were the best I have seen for passing on the course, lots of heads up notice and polite as could be.

2nd place overall
A big thanks out to Forrest Carver for setting me up with my bikes and equipment. Carver loves bikes and their riders and they show it, by supporting me 3500km away from their home state of Maine.

NiteRider Lighting for the state of the art lighting, heading out on course with a spare all in one unit that I can change trailside in a few seconds from mount to mount without needing to see what I am doing is awesome! ...and unheard of just a couple of years ago.

A big thanks to Nox Composites, I have 3- 24hr events  and a full  year of training on these carbon wheels, and I have never had to true these wheels. They are the best wheels I have ever  ridden. I don't know how these wheels stood up to that mileage and the amount of baby head rocks on this course and they are still running true.

To Dr. Dave Westmacott at AST Sports Therapy, your unwavering support over these last 4 years, has been a blessing to say the least. I am able to fire on all cylinders because of the your treatments to me. I also go into these events with a bunch of confidence because of this.

To the boys at Pedalhead for helping me out with some last minute oddball parts for my brakes.

Of course to my family for letting me have all this fun of exploring new territory....

Next up the Butte 100 on July 25, and maybe if I have time throw down 4 laps at the 7 Summits for fun.

The Kid.... 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Carver 420 TI Review

Last year when I partnered with Carver, we talked about me doing a review of this bike and how it performed in my events and training. After a year of training and testing it out during the races I've completed, I have great experience on it and can give it a solid review.
I received this bike in November 2013 and went about setting up my fit on the bike, which for me always takes a bit of time as I'm always looking for the optimal fit and keep tweaking it as I'm on it 10-15 hours a week.

I've had this bike set up on my trainer, ridden it in the snow and on the trail and roads.  With a great deal of summer riding and races in the bank, I've tweaked it to a good fit and have a solid opinion of my ride and its features, so let's get started!

Out of the box the bike has clean welds and is very well constructed with certain design features that I really like, including:
  1. Tapered head tube
  2. Cable guides that allow the use of full cable housing
  3. Rear sliders that allow the chain stays to be adjusted  down to 420mm, or shorter depending on the tire.
  4. Good rear tire clearance 2.35
  5. 73mm THREADED BB shell, with ample clearance for any size chain ring
  6. Ovalized down tube
  7. Awesome TI goodness
  8. Solid build and clean welds

One of the nicest build qualities that I find it has is how the top tube is welded to the down tube and the head tube (as one), then both are welded to the head tube. I think this really makes the front end of this bike stiff. The other added feature is that the likelihood of a crack at this intersection is much less than other TI frames on the market, that don't make their connection like this. It's definitely a week point (IMO) and takes away relying on the welds alone.

I initially set the Carver up for the trainer and then on the road; 2 very similar setups and the use of my 48T chainring on my 1X10 system. On the road I could really feel the stiffness of the wide BB shell, I am used to the 68MM of my Lynskey, and I truly hated how soft the bottom end of the bike felt on the Lynskey. My SS type riding style has me spend the majority of the time out of the saddle mashing on my peddles, it was a welcome sensation to feel the bike push ahead on every pedal stroke on the Carver vs the slight lag I felt on my old Lynskey. Obviously the shorter stays of the Carver (420mm) over the (445mm) that I was familiar on the Lynskey played a hand in this as well. Handling was harder to evaluate on the road (or trainer for that matter) I can tell you this, the bike went where I pointed it.

I ordered the bike with the Carver Trail carbon fork, as this came with the 15mm TA.  My idea was to race my next 24 with this bike as a fully rigid setup.  Speaking of which, fast forward to race day 2014 24hrs of OP, Tucson Arizona. The 420 did exactly what I wanted, the carbon fork was super compliant throughout the whole event. It was only in the last few hours of the event did my hands feel sore from running the carbon fork and this was only because of how rough some sections of the course had become due to the shear number of riders in the event.

My next event was the 6 hours of Salty Dog.  I ran my Fox terralogic fork in this event and was happy I did. With 2 days of steady rain prior to the event and then sunny the day of the event, I found the exposed sections of the course in really good condition, but once you got into the trees the wet roots and muddy conditions were pretty sketchy. The Carver performed excellently under these conditions.

I raced next in the 24hrs of Round and Round. I really liked this course, and it was very well suited to my setup. Long climbs with some flow and some tech in between. I got a viral bug during this event so an 8 hour ride at this event was all that I could get done.

Since Spokane I have been able to get some decent long rides in the dirt. This is where I have really been able to evaluate this bike. No pressure while racing but just connecting with this tool while on the trail. Some of the highlights I really appreciate about the Carver has been the ability to ride in some really twisty single track. I can really lean into the corners, and kick myself out of the corner with enough time to setup for the next corner. It is uncanny how quick this endurance rig is.

My idea of an endurance bike is equal amounts of compliancy and stiffness, so as to get the job done and not be too beat up. This machine delivers!  With a few tiny adjustments, you can change this bike into a single track monster that you can throw into berms, or you can change it up for a bit more compliancy for some all day riding.

The next event I raced at was the 24 HOA at Canmore. I love this course and I loved riding this bike on this course. A great result and a fantastic ride left me in great shape after the race. No discomfort at all during the 24 hours of racing.

With my setup, I spend most of my time riding with the chainstay's set at 420mm and run my Carver Carbon fork with a 2.4 ardent up front and a Ikon 2.2 on the back. I really like this setup for training around Calgary and most trails in Bragg and Canmore. It is smooth enough ride that it saves the wear and tear on my suspension forks and makes me better at choosing lines. I find it's a much more compliant rigid bike than my old Giant, with the Niner carbon fork.

In Summary, with 4-24 hour races under my belt this season  and a pile of training hours on this bike, I will definitely be riding and racing it next season as well.  In fact, it's so awesome...that I'll be ordering another 420 TI this winter for some SS action .

A big thanks to Forrest Carver for setting me up with this rig.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

2014-24hrs of Adrenaline

2014 24 hours of Adrenaline

At the beginning of the season I started contemplating racing this event.  I mean what's not to like about this event...  it has a great vibe and being that it is basically in my backyard... I was in!

I was able to talk Julie and Steve Kelly into running my pit for me, which helps a ton. Cor was going to help with Zach, but it was good knowing that they could take a step back. It's big job to have a 7 year old all night and put up with my shenanagins for 24hrs.

With some great training volume and a crappy result at Spokane (due to some stomach issues), I certainly had the motivation as well.

July 19th had us set up at our pit location that evening, a prelap, a chat with friends and then off we head to the Stoney Nakoda Hotel for a quick dip in the pool and some much needed sleep.

Saturday morning we were running a bit late, but we still were able to hookup with Steve and Julie, got the bike prepped with my race number and we were able to chill for the next couple of hours before the gun goes off at noon.

Some chatting with fellow racers in the start lineup, had me next to Ryan Gardiner, Andrew Bovard, and Jesse Mong. Jesse looked fit as always and he looked like he brought his Ä game which I expected. I like Jesse a lot, he is a fierce competitor, and as genuine as they come.

The gun goes off and I run my leman start, make my way back to the start finish and climb on the bike for some 24hr goodness. An hour or so later I ride down solo pit area just in time to see our mechanics tent get blown across the course with Steve ending up on his butt trying to stop it and Cor chasing after the tent as it righted itself across the lane and stood straight up like it was meant to be there.

Julie, was on task running after me to hand me a bottle, and I went out on my 2nd lap with a few thoughts on my mind. When I returned from my second lap I had found out that everyone was ok, and all things were back to normal, and knowing some kind souls had lent my pit crew some tent pegs to make sure that the tent wouldn't blow across the course, again.

The next few laps were uneventful (thank goodness) and I was enjoying riding with Ryan for the most part of them.  I found the temps a bit on the warm side but the descents made up for that as they were a bit cooler.  Around 8pm Ryan and I separated to ride on our own. It was a bit after this that I was riding the Matching Jersey's section of the course and feeling great when I heard a loud, "snap" as my chain disintegated into 2 pieces. I pull off the trail and add 2 quick links, within 5 mins I was on my way to finish this lap.
Ryan leading

When I came in I asked Julie if she could get my spare chain (I kept on hand) installed for me by the mechanics on site. Then I would take out my spare bike and not lose any valuable time. I now had a trust issue with my primary bike and its chain, I figured it best to get it fixed while it was still quite bright out. Then I wouldn't have to worry about repairing this chain again, especially when it would get dark.

Out I go on my spare bike, it's nice and light but not very compliant.  I had installed my rigid fork for training on much smoother terrain, but it wasn't much fun to ride the choppy descents on and I was happy that this was only going to be a one lap affair on this bike.

I pass check mark 1 and head into the tree's (and roots) for some more climbing and I hear a really loud  "snap"! and my bike stops immediately.  I look down and see a branch jammed into my derraileur, pushing it into my spokes. One of the roots I just rode over has snapped back and hit my derraileur and chain . Seriously?! I take a a few minutes to fix it but it requires me to bend my deraileur by hand out of the spokes and my chain ends up in 2 pieces as a result. I sling the chain onto the side of the course and start pushing and coasting my bike back the way I came.

I get stopped by the marshalls as I ride back to the checkpoint I just pass and am told that I will have to forfeit this lap or run the balance of the 17kms to make it back to the pit to make this lap count. The idea of running the balance of the lap in my carbon soled biking shoes was not appealing at all.

So there it is, I forfeit my lap via the Marshall's radio call. I  start running and coasting my bike back down to the pits. When I arrive at the pits, I hear from Cor that Julie is on her way back with my  Carver... fixed and ready to roll. I can't say thanks enough to Outside Bike and Ski, for bailing me out!

Julie runs back into the pit, and I jump on my Carver 420 Ti, and head back to the timing tent first so that my laps can restart. Now I can get back to the task at hand... trying to make up lost time.

I'm told I lost 54 mins (not counting the ride around to the timing tent). This also put me a lap down from the leaders, and put me somewhere in the 6th placing, from my previous 3rd place standing.

Ugh, anything can happen in a 24hr race and it just did. So I settled into some smart racing, ticking away the miles hoping that I could make up the time and maybe try for an attack in the morning.

After this lap I come back in and get my lights on the bike and helmet, and get out for some night riding.

The night goes pretty much as expected, just chipping away and cautiously planning for the money lap. I get back out on my last night lap and decide to pick up my pace a bit as I seemed to be closing the gap on some of the current podium contenders. I get deep into the climbs on the first part of the course and come up on Ryan. We chat for a few minutes and I get back after it, and start pulling back some riders.

Trying to make up some time and feeling it
Money Lap
I come upon the 4th place rider and he and I chatted for a quick sec and I could see that he was hurting so I just pulled away. Around the last bunch of climbs after "long road to ruin", I recognize a familiar jersey riding ahead of me.  I could see that it was Jesse, and I was looking forward to riding with him.

I pull him back just in time to the last downhill before the only piece of pavement in the event. It's at this point I decide to test our legs a bit.  I ride up next  to Jesse, and he sees me and we both start sprinting, which is funny as we still have quite bit of riding left to go. I look back now and I start laughing, because of how funny it must have looked as we both sprint up the hill and down to the pit lane, especially with some cheering coming from the sidelines kinda going like this "way to go solo's" way to finish a lap". We were both full on racing.

I drop into my pit just ahead of Jesse and he drops into his, ahead of mine. A split second later and he is back out on course riding for all he was worth. I had Cor and Julie take my lights and gear off, I take a sip of coke and start mashing away at the 3-4 min lead that Jesse has just  put into me. I'm feeling good and my legs are feeling awesome, 5kms later I am able to grab Jesse's wheel and pull past him with just a bit of jostling between the two of us. I love racing with and against Jesse he will make you work right to the finish. I had better legs today.

I get out in front and start mashing away to put sometime into him and to pull back the second place contender, who is on this current lap as well. 40 mins later I was able to pull back this rider, .

A lap or so later .....

I am now somewhere around the high 30 mins behind the leader and I am trying to catch him, but I'm running out of time. It was around this time that  it starts raining, and up near the top  on all the exposed rocks it is getting slick. With a couple of close calls I am forced to slow down. The upside of this was that it only rained for around 30 minutes or so. It was then that, I pretty much knew 2nd place would be the best I can do today, there just isn't enough time left....

Goofin around
Heading out for the rain lap

I'm happy with this result, I had to overcome some challenges, not to mention race with and against some of the best endurance racers around.

In summary this is the 4th time I have raced this event solo. 1 top 5 finish and 3 podiums.  The icing on the cake was that this was the 10th 24 hour solo event I have competed in and it all began here.


I want to say a huge thanks to my wife Coralee and my son Zach... they put up with my training schedule....

To Steve and Julie Kelly, (mostly Julie) :) I owe you this one, totally there Julie, top notch support. and friendship

To my coach and friend Shaun Taylor.

To Forrest Carver, (Carver bikes) thanks for the bike, the setup and advice. Carver Bikes are awesome. If you don't believe me ride one. (And no you can't ride mine!)

NiteRider lights, Tommy Bryant, You guys are always  in the trenches with the racers... all night long and it shows. Thank you

NOX composites for the dope wheels.


To Dr Dave and the staff at AST Sports Therapy, for putting up with all my injuries this year and for fixing me up, as always...  I couldn't do this without your continued support

To Pedalhead Bike and ski, thanks to Al for the post race recovery beer, and the rest of the guys at the shop.

Next race

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

2014 24hrs of Old Pueblo

Let's get to it:

Back in November I decided to sign up for this epic race. 24+hrs of racing in the middle of the desert sounds like a great idea when winter comes a calling in Calgary, especially this winter as it seemed to start earlier this year and man we had some cold cold days to show for it. Now throw in the fact that I didn't finish the race my last attempt, thanks to some eye sight issues.

So for a quickie update, I'm on a new bike, I hooked up with Carver bikes and Bikeman internet sales, to get me a sweet Ti frame (a full review to follow), with  Ti post and carbon fork.

I was planning on racing this setup at OP as I really didn't see the need for suspension on this course. Not extremely bumpy or choppy, long laps (16 miles) and the vert gain is somewhere between 1000' and 1200' per lap. Everybody's GPS was different so pick a number.
Leading up to the race Shaun had me riding outside (when the temps were warmer than -20C) and the balance was spent on the suffer machine in the basement (trainer). I got some great sessions out at Fish Creek on my Giant HT, running SS and Ice spiker tires. Later on I was throwing down some riding with my Carver 420 TI with gears and race setup. A weekend retreat had Julie, I and Shaun getting some great snow riding in at Rossland. Great food and great laughs rounded out the weekend.

Before that, I was able to get a good day of riding in the Tustin, CA  (Sierra mountains) while holidaying in San Diego over Christmas.

Some highlights from this 3 month training block were:
  • A 1" half thickness tear in my right rotater cuff.
  • Full fingertip dislocation 3 weeks prior to race day.
  • An annoying cold like cough that just seemed to hang on.

Gotta throw a big thanks out to AST for sorting my shoulder out, the pain was manageable during waking hours, but as soon as I went to bed the darn thing would wake me 2-3 times a night with a dull aching pain. In the last few weeks leading up to the event my shoulder had normalized quite nicely.

 All thing's aside, Suffice to say, I was in really good form when it was time to load up my gear and head to Oracle, Arizona for this event.

I met up with Julie at the airport, and then we boarded our Alaskan Airlines flight for the roughest flight possible to Seattle. We were supposed to meet up with Shaun in Seattle but that busted out as he was having his own challenges with flights, as we later found out. Off to Phoenix, AZ rent a car and wait for Shaun to arrive from his flight with Delta (ugh) and off we were to Whole Foods and then a drive to Tucson and then over to Oracle, AZ.

Julie booked us in the 3C Ranch and it was perfect. Great accommodations and only 20 minutes or so from the race course at 24hr town.

Here we meet up with 2 more of Shaun's athelete's; Ryan (Jasper, AB) and Tony (Austin, TX) and their wives. We were lucky enough to secure Antonio and Holly for pit support, who were scheduled to arrive Friday evening. They drove 14+ hrs from Austin to helps us out and we were all very thankful they did. It was unfortunate as we were expecting JR, and his girlfriend Laura to head out for the race as well, but their schedules just didn't mesh with the race. Too bad as we all missed them.

Friday early afternoon the 5 of us went out on course for a prelap. It was interesting for me as this would be the very first time I was able to get out on dirt and ride my new bike and setup. It felt great after that first lap, and here's hoping it feels the same after 10+ laps in the middle of the night.

Ok... enough of the prelim, let's get after it.

Race day:

Standing at the lemans start line about 1/2 mile away from my bike in the desert sun was uncomfortable. Hearing the gun go off was a welcoming sound. I start my run and watch Shaun and Julie disappear ahead as I fumble my way through my run. I'm swallowed up by the crowd but that's how these starts go for me.

First lap, it took me almost a full lap to catch up with Julie.  She was riding very, very strong...the strongest I have seen her ride. We literally pull into the pit almost side by side and I notice about half way through that lap my BB is making a grinding noise. A minute on the stand or so with a dab of oil at the crank arm and off I go to start another lap. This doesn't concern me a whole lot as sometimes you can get some noise and it will work itself out or not. It doesn't matter until it matters. What was starting to irritate me was my new jersey. I ordered a medium and normally it fits me quite well. This one, well it fit like a large, and so it was flapping all over the place.  Once I started to sweat it felt like I was wearing a parachute with the zipper bouncing off my nipple. So fun.... I'll be wearing a small before the next event, that's for sure.

2- 4 laps my BB is really starting sound like a squeeze toy my dog has gotten hold of. At this point I really don't care. I am going to keep riding until that damn thing seizes, or whatever sand has gotten itself in there has worked itself free. Around the 5:30 mark I pull into the pit and set about getting my lights on my bike, which was the mandatory time to get your lights on. I was thankful for this as it gave Antonio much needed time to try and get my BB sorted out. Which he did. It turns out it was my left side crank arm that had worked itself loose and was moving around on the crankshaft. Not the BB itself like I had thought.

Interesting time of the race for me.... I'm starting to feel off. My legs and body feel good, but I am really starting to feel thirsty and dehydrated. With desert racing even though it's only in the 90's (which I don't mind) it's the never ending exposure to the sun and no shade, (which I do mind). I grab a couple of sips of water and head out on this lap.

I'm loving my setup. I'm quick on the climbs and hitting the flowy sections nice and smooth. Some of the course is showing signs of chop, so I'm having to choose my line a bit more on the tight downhills, the typical drag your back wheel into the turns by some of the team racers was the cause of the rutting.

So getting back to this lap.... I am out on course and about 1/3 of the lap in I start getting a dry mouth, my first real concrete symptoms of dehydration. So I make a big mistake and start hitting my nutrition harder, like gulping it. This was really getting difficult for me as I didn't even have enough moisture in my mouth to swallow my own spit. Between the intense sun and the neverending wind, I was hitting a wall. 

It was around this time that Shaun rode up to me and asks how I'm doing. But I can't even answer... my mouth is that dry.  A few minutes later he passes me with a 3 riders on his wheel and starts pulling all of them up the series of climbs and as I am watching, he is even gapping the dude off the back. It was cool to see but I couldn't do any of that action (which I wanted to) as now I am dehydrated and I have a protein gut from gulping my nutrition.

My race has turned side ways in the matter of a lap, I'm out of nutrition and fluid and I am so dang thirsty it's not even funny.

I make it through this lap and I get back into the pits. I grab an extra bottle of water for the lap, and my regular bottle of nutrition and off I go.

For the next series of laps it goes like this:
Ride until I get super hungry, take a small sip of nutrition, a few seconds later get stomach cramps, sip some water as I am dying of thirst, have another bout of stomach cramps. Repeat until this crap sorts itself out. Absolutely rubbish, my legs are great, I just can't initiate cause I have no power to drive them and my stomach hurts like no other time in recent memory.

Some highlights in this stage of the race for me:
  • Pulling long cactus needles out of my forearm with my teeth as I ride
  • Pulling short cactus needles out of my legs as I ride (no teeth)
  • Dreaming of an ice cold slurpee
On some parts of the course the cactus lined both sides of the trail and were  daring you  to screw up or even brush up against . Not "if "but "when " you did, you paid the price.

3 am I come in on my 10th lap and I'm starting to get cold (as the temps really drop in the desert at night). I'm fighting the cramps and I am still thirsty beyond belief. I get some warm clothes on and chat with Amber and Antonio for a few minutes. I take a few minutes off the bike hoping I can at least burp and feel better but it's not happening. I do something I never do and ask Antonio if I can drink his coke so that maybe I can clear my stomach. The look on Antonio's face was priceless as I drank his Mexican coke. I felt a little bad about it really, but I got over it as soon as my stomach started feeling better :)  Now I have been sitting in the pit for at least 20 mins, the top ten place I was sitting at when I came in, now had me down to 14 or so.

Back out on course and yeah, the caff is working on my brain and the sugar is helping me get some power back. But that feeling is short lived as the cramps come back again because I am drinking my nutrition and water again, I don't have a choice.  I can't race on Cokes, that would be worse. So I'm just pounding out the miles knowing that my dream of a top 5 finish is diminishing.

I can honestly say that it's not about that anymore for me now. It's about digging myself out of this hole and finishing the best I can with no regrets. I know and accept that this is the hardest event I have had to race and now it's all about that.

The witching hour...I roll in and see Shaun, Julie, Ryan and the rest of the crew at the pit. Everyone has had their own challenge and they are all knee deep into it the same as I am. I pull off my helmet and my helmet light and decide it's time to go back out with just my bar light as we all figured that it was maybe 30 mins or so before sunrise. This felt awesome on my head and I decide that I am going to ride a hard lap as my stomach is starting to sort itself out a bit and I am feeling a bit better.

A 1:14 lap and I make up 2 placings in the race and now I am just interested in as many placings I can make up as possible. Next lap I do about the same time, a bit slower maybe and I'm feeling so much better.

So out I go and the sun is sitting higher in the sky. After a sip off my bottle I notice that my drink tastes weird, like... warm water.

It's starting to get really hot by now, (for me anyhow) and I know that I may be in trouble with just water in my bottle with these temps and my current effort. As the miles tick off I start bonking, I mean hard, I am super hungry and now I am seeing stars.

I start thinking about when Shaun went out on a lap without a bottle at this event (by mistake) a couple years past and how he says he scoured the ground for used gels or bottles or anything that can help him get through this lap and start doing the same. My head is all over the map and I am having a hard time focusing on this new task until I come upon a bottle that's lying in the middle of the trail. I stop to pick it up and see if it has anything in it besides water, and dang it's bone dry.  It was bad enough that the bottle was empty it was even worse trying to get back on my bike and try and ride  again.  It was then I decided I wasn't stopping again unless I was interested in walking...

I make it back in to the pit. I don't know how long it took to finish this lap, and to be honest I haven't even looked at my lap times since the race. But I do know this, I threw my bike down and almost fell on my head. Shaun, Ryan and everyone else got me cooled down with ice and water as I was seriously overheated and dehydrated again. I was glad they were there to help me. Holly ran and got me an RC Cola and with a couple of handfuls of ice in my jersey pockets I'm going back out.

This lap went much better.

16 laps at 16 miles a lap and a whole lotta stuff in between means I get it done, with an 8th place finish. 

As for nutrition, I usually get 20-23 bottles of nutrition down in a typical 24hr event. I would think that with the temps I should've been up around 25 bottles.  All toll I was told it was more like 10 bottles, and 2-3 bottles of water, with 2 cokes.....  messed up. 

Next year... 3 times a charm!

A big shout out to those who support me:
Pedalhead ski works, AST, Nite Rider, Forrest Carver/Carver bikes, Shaun Taylor.

 Shaun, Julie, Antonio, Holly, Amber and Ryan, Tony and Patty. All people I consider my friends, thanks for your help.

 a special thanks to  my wife Coralee and Zachary, my son.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A little snowriding 2014

I got out the other morning (early) just in time for the snow to hit.  Almost whiteout conditions on the way to and from the trailhead thanks to the 40-50 km winds. This was a couple days  earlier than our current cold snap. I was glad  temps were only in the low single digit - temps.

 The conditions and trail were giving me a great session. As you can see the trail was hard packed under the 100mm of fresh Powder, and riding SS I was having to really engage some body action, just  to stay on course  It was a fun ride.

 Thanks to Nite Rider lights there wasn't much I couldn't see on the trail. I was operating the Pro 1800 (bar )  on low and the 750 (helmet) on medium. 


Saturday, 7 September 2013

24hrs of Flathead




After some deliberating (post 24 hours of adrenaline, drunkenness ) I figured what a great way to end the summer by doing another 24...

Fast forward to our 2 week vacation in Idaho, a fantastic holiday with the family, and some really great training rides and experiences. I think I'm ready for Montana.

A 5 hour drive got us into Kalispell,  MT early Friday evening, the plan was to arrive early enough to be able to put a prelap in on the  course. (Herron park). Here we meet the race organiser, her family and some very nice volunteers. I knew after meeting this bunch of people I was going to have a great time, and after putting a lap in on the course I felt even better about the event. The course itself was 8miles , and 1400'of gain per lap. Using Canmore's Nordic centre as a bench mark of 1700'vert gain in 12miles, it showed that this no nonsense course was a bit steeper per hour.

I like the course plain and simple, really not much tech, 2 full climbs, and 3 downhill sections and a tiny bit of flat after the start finish line. The soil was hard packed from rain and then dried to a cake  from the sun.  28C for Saturday with a 32C finish on Sunday makes for a hot dry dusty race.

With the preride behind me, I was ready for some dinner (pasta) and a good sleep. We had dinner at Mckenzie River  Restaurant and it was perfect, then off to Rosauer's for water and snacks for Zachary, Zoey, and Coralee.

We finally got to bed around 10pm Friday evening at the Motel 6 in Kalispell.  I consider myself a pretty sound sleeper, so when I was awaken at 2am in the morning to someone trying to come into our room, I was ready for battle. After the gentleman identified himself as the night manager and that he had thought the room was empty I got it  that he had made a mistake.  It makes sense, mistakes happen, try knocking first.

An hour goes by and I am  able to get back to sleep. Up at 7am my wonderful wife got up a few minutes earlier and made me a great cup of Rossland Mountain roasting coffee, freshly hand ground that morning.

Breakfast down and off to the race course to get our tent and gear setup for the event. Cor as usual would run my pit, and Zach was there with Zoey for bottle handups. 

With the pit setup, All I had left to do was get into my AST/Pedalhead/Marda loop Vet clinic race kit on and try and get some relax time in before the race.
With around 10 mins to go to the start of the race I head on down to the Leman start area , and wait for the gun to go off.

12pm the gun goes off and we start our run to our bikes, the good thing for me is that it's only about a 100' lemans run to the bike, perfect for a guy like me. As I head out on the first lap with the other racer's I start to notice how hot it has become, I would surmise that it was hotter than the 28C forecast, or at least it felt that way. I had my Jersey zipper wide open within the first few minutes of the race.

As we ride into the single track I end up riding alongside with a couple of Cat1/pro riders, (Craig, Chance,) as well as Jessie Mong, (Carmichael TS)and John Cadman (Deadgoat racing), 2 other open solo riders like myself. It was cool chatting and catching the cool vibe of the race for the first lap. It was funny because all 4 of us rode into the start finish at the same time causing the USAC referee, to ask if we were on a group ride, So fun.

All of us started to head out for the 2nd lap and as expected the pro guys with Jessie leading pulled out ahead at a decent riding pace. John C and myself kind of hung out riding for the best part of this lap, and probably around the start of the 3rd lap we got separated, and then the race became a true solo event for me.

The heat, it was hot, ( hot for me anyways) well into the low 30's with a ton of exposure on the some of the longer climbs, and especially at the start finish area. I was glad that Coralee took the extra time and installed sides on our custom AST event tent otherwise they would have been in trouble.
I like racing in the heat, I have an innate ability to change my pace and effort to suit this I was able to tolerate this condition, even though I wasn't a fan of it.

Somewhere around the 5th lap I was able to catch up to Jessie, he was starting on the last climb before the last downhill of the course. We shared a couple of words, then I was able to get ahead of him going into a tight single track and maintain my lead to the end of the lap.

At 6-10laps I was riding my race and feeling very good, my bike was working well except for the normal dry chain ( thanks to the dust) that I would re lube every 6 laps for the balance of the event. otherwise I was really setting my pace.

The night lap, at 6:30pm I was told to get my lights on by the USAC official, which I happily did.
You see I was fortunate enough to meet Tommy from Nite rider lighting systems, and he was able to set me up with a sweet system. He installed the LUMINA 700 cordless on my helmet, and the PRO 1800 RACE on my bars. I can tell you. this I have never used a lighting system as nice or as bright  as this. The 2 lights integrated themselves so well, it was like having one single beam, until you came to a corner and then you would get the full advantage of the twin beams. I won't be able to go back to my Majicshine/light and motion combination now.

Back to the race, the night laps are normally my favourite and this event was no different for me, however around the 3 am mark I was noticing some discomfort in my stomach and experiencing some chills while I was riding. I came in on one of my laps and sat down for 15 mins hoping to clear my stomach and get rid of my chills. The next lap when I came in I actually stopped for 30 min or so and had to go to my truck to warm up. 

What  I was finding challenging was, the actual temp difference between the lower open section of the course were cold,  low single digit temps cold. ( through the start finish line and then around a kilometre into the course),  after that it  was into the woods and the climbs which were holding the heat from the day and siting around the low 20's ( in my estimation). I was consuming a good amount of fluids, and perspiring pretty good in the tree's but when I would pop out into the clearing I would catch a chill and the cold drinks I was drinking were playing havoc with my stomach.

I was able to figure this out while sitting in the truck with the engine running and my teeth chattering  I came up with the idea  of wearing my light wind vest, and consuming my drinks that I hadn't put in the cooler.

When I went back out after this break I was able to execute my plan, and I didn't have any physical issue's for the rest of the race. Coach Shaun  always told me that anything can happen in a 24hr race and usually does. I was fortunate enough to solve this before it became worse.

It was around this time I found out that I was leading my category, and challenging 1st place overall. At 7am I was sitting in first overall with a 2 lap buffer, on my closest competitor. The sun was just starting to come up and I was totally enjoying the money lap, it gave me chance to think about my good friends and family, and feeling pretty good about making it through the  night and my trials of the event so far. With 5hours left in the race I felt I had a pretty good chance at maintaining my lead.
It felt good to be here and I was feeling good overall, just ticking off the miles and enjoying the vibe and encouragement from the volunteers, and fellow racers.


At 10:30 am and with 21 laps securely in the bank I pulled the pin. It was starting to get  hot  and dry again.

Thankfully with the help from Jessie and Heather we were able to pack up fairly quickly. In fact just in time for some leisure time, free hot dogs and drinks prior to the award ceremony.

Some highlights from this experience:
  • Swimming with Zach post race.
  • sharing a beer with Cor on the tailgate of my truck at 2am Monday morning.
  • Meeting some great fun people.
  • Chatting with the fellow racers during the event.

My wife and son, I don't do this without them.
My Coach Shaun Taylor, we need to go riding soon, we need to clink some beer glasses soon.
Nite Rider Lights, for hooking me up, and letting me enjoy the goodness of your system, Thank you Tommy.
AST  I am grateful for your continued support. 2 years behind me. Thank you.
Pedalhead Bicycle works, you make my bike flawless, one less thing to worry about.
Heather Mong, for supporting Coralee with a winter jacket and hot coffee in that cold night.
Jessie Mong, for towing the line  a pure racer, much respect bro.

To all my friends and family checking in with Coralee via mobile electronic devices, it was awesome to hear about that afterwards.

To the organisers/volunteers of this great grassroots event, supporting  the cause for people with life altering disabilities I was glad to be a part of this.

See you next year