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