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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Race Report: Storm the Trent 2019 (Trek)

The Race

Storm the Trent – we’ve done this every year for the last few, finally got the green “5 year” bibs!

It’s a mix of paddling, mountain biking and running/trekking across marked and unmarked sections.  Some modest navigation, but nothing too serious (although people’s ability to get lost is remarkable).

We stepped up to the Trek distance from Hike.

The Forecast

Rain.  All Day.  Storms.  Yikes.

Our Race

We started off strong with the paddling – although it’s always remarkable just how many people are faster than us!  We have a killer boat but only paddled once this year before the race, and some guys have the strength, it’s amazing.

Water was calm, it was a pretty easy paddle.  My arms were c-o-o-k-e-d by the end, could barely carry the boat back to transition.

Run #1

This was pretty long - from the boats we went upppppp a sharp long climb, then doowwwwwwn back to lake level - and we still weren't at the checkpoint!

Finally reached Glebe Park and did the 3 checkpoints there.  We found them pretty straightforward, which which means people who can run fast passed us pretty easily.
We tend to excel at out-smarting those who can out-run us, so more complicated would have been helpful!

Tough running up and down and up and down.

Bike #1

Finally transitioned to bike - and it was a mess for me.

I have two bikes - a hardtail and a full suspension.  I chose the later - but especially on the road it was the wrong choice.  Even when the trails were tougher I don't think I benefitted that much from the suspension, and it's so much heavier and plush - just hard to really hammer.

Worse, my rear skewer was loose - not sure how the hell that happened!  Realized it about 10km into the bike.

The course started on gravel, then a lonnnnng paved section.  Finally some gravel roads, then horrible horrible horrible gunky mud. I was really hating life at that point - we still had 10km to go, and if it was going to be 10km of that?  Uggggh.

But then we transitioned to a much better ATV road - 7.5km of that.  It was hilly and rough but very rideable, lots of fun at times.  Hills were eating me up though!!!

Then ... disaster.  Near disaster, anyway!

There was supposed to be a checkpoint (unmanned) at the trail junction.  We flew by a trail junction, there were a couple cars there, and my partner heard someone who was stopped on their bike say it wasn't the checkpoint...

Of course, it was.  I looked at the map and our direction and finally convinced myself 100% about 5 minutes later... so that cost us 9 minutes round trip back.

Disaster - except almost everyone missed it!  I couldn't believe how many people we saw circling back - some from far, far further away.  So what cost us about 9 minutes cost other teams 20, 30, etc.

The bike ended on some singletrack at Sir Sam's, which was kind of fun, but so muddy still from the extended spring and rain.  Too bad, it looked like it could have been a hoot.  I think a lot of the plans the organizer had were squashed by conditions, unfortunately.

Run #2

This was at Sir Sam's - 3 checkpoints, up the ski hill to the very top and back down in a big loop.

The only weird part here was when we saw another team of 2 men at the last checkpoint... they came down the hill just like us, and we assumed it was their last checkpoint too, so we were a little disheartened when they got their first!

... except as we sprinted to the finish downhill, they went uphill!  So they had clearly messed up the order of their checkpoints somehow, ended up going up, down, up... whoops!


At the finish they said were the 5th team to cross of over 20, so we were really delighted with that.  Navigation matters, we learn that every year... sometimes the hard way!

(Official results pending)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Race Report: Epic 8 Hour 2019 (Chico Racing)

Another really great event by Chico!  Always a good time, always challenging.

This was a warm-up for the 24h for us again, just like last year.  I was in better shape this year and had a new bike to attack the course with.

The Race

8 hours, go as far as you can.  Each lap is about 30-50 minutes depending on ability (or even shorter/longer for the really talented/not people).

We were in the "Team of 2" category - so one of us on the course at any given time, swapping laps.

Others do it solo (I did the fall 8h solo in 2014, crazytown) or in larger teams... but I think Team of 2 is rather perfect.

The Course

10km of alternating single and double track through beautiful forest at the Mansfield Outdoor Centre.

It's weird there - not matter how wet it is, it's fine.  And it's sandy, but not beach-like (except ONE spot which was annoying, but tolerable).  It holds together surprisingly well with 200 cyclists doing ~10 laps each!

This year was slightly longer by time than last year - mostly on account of the climbs. 

The opening climb is always there, it's long and spinny, not a big deal.

But from 5km on there were 4 really tough ones.

  • Singletrack switchback climb with roots at 5km
  • Straight shot up a hill that I feel could be avoided by adding some switchback to make it less steep, get on it someone!!!
  • Last 2 climbs - 2 climbs in the last ~7minutes up to the last descent - one doubletrack that's just steep, the other singletrack that's rooted and tricky
Apart from the climbs, the course was fast, fun, and rideable!  

My Race - Lap 1 (Team Lap 2)

My buddy took the first lap (he said it was traffic jam hell) but by the time I started my lap things had spread out a bit, and everyone near me was reasonably similar ability.

I had a pretty tough time keeping an even pace on the 1st lap - blew up a few times.  This was especially true at the singletrack switchback climb at 5km mentioned above.  My heart rate flew into the 180bpm+ range - which is like sprinting fast for me.  I had a really tough time nursing it back down... I just hadn't expected the climb so didn't pace well before it, so went from pushing to screwed.

Oops.  Score one for knowing the course ahead of time I guess.

There were rooted sections from the previous year that my new full suspension bike had no trouble at all with - big change from last year on the hardtail!  It was a hoot.

The last 2 climbs killed me again, I didn't even bother trying the first one, just walked it every time.  Going into the red with a hard low cadence effort just isn't worth it for me - it leads to cramping and horribleness.  The second one I managed most of the first lap (and some of the subsequent laps) but always walked at least a little.

Lap 2 (Team Lap 4)

I felt like complete ass during my "recovery".  Fatigued and just not good.  Ate as much food as I could stomach but my body was just not loving it.

The second lap though went much better - I was able to smooth out my effort, knew what was coming so was smarter going into the big climbs, and just mentally came to terms with not riding some of the gnarly climbs.

The singletrack switchback climb still sent my heart rate flying, but at least going into it I eased off and was good and fresh!  And I knew better how to recover on the other end of it.

Lap 3/4/5 (Team Laps 6/8/10)

There really isn't a lot to say - fortunately they were uneventful, and each lap felt a little better than the last!  My recoveries were more useful and I hit the course each lap feeling a little better than the one before it.  

I had a V8.  Is that interesting?  Maybe a little.  650mg of sodium in one can!  And some potassium too - and even some carbs.  I was a bit worried about the fiber but stomach liked it well enough - so I'll use it in the 24h as well.

There was a small chance we'd have enough time for an 11th lap... my teammate said he didn't want to do another, and I was feeling so good I briefly flirted with the idea of doing a double.  I talked myself out of it (and in the end we ran out of time anyway).  But that's how good I felt later vs earlier.

It's weird.  But that's just me.  Bodes well for the 24h!

Overall my laps were 47:37, 47:46, 48:19, 49:00, 48:51... so I was getting a bit slower I guess, but not a precipitous drop-off.  

Next Up

Storm the Trent!  Padding, Biking, Running.  Should be a hoot.